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Giants’ Manning worth backing against Vikings

Often ripped for his uninspired play and wobbly passes, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning is representative of his team’s inconsistency. Sometimes the Giants come on strong, and sometimes they are the sleeping Giants.

Betting on the Giants, and hoping Manning plays well, can be maddening.

There are few reliable teams in the NFL, and fewer elite quarterbacks. The Giants are unreliable, and Manning is a middle-tier quarterback.

But propped up next to the Minnesota Vikings, especially when star rookie running back Adrian Peterson is questionable with a right knee injury, the Giants should stand tall as 7-point home favorites Sunday.

Compared to the Vikings’ ridiculous quarterback rotation of Tarvaris Jackson and Brooks Bollinger — neither of whom should even be in the league — Manning is a star.

Minnesota can move the ball on the ground. Chester Taylor, filling in for Peterson, rushed for 164 yards last week in a victory over Oakland. But that was against the Raiders, and this week the Vikings are on the road.

New York’s defense, with a pass rush that has produced 34 sacks, should have few problems with Minnesota’s one-dimensional offense.

The Vikings defense, which ranks last in the league against the pass, will give Manning opportunities to quiet his critics for a week.

The Giants, 7-1 straight up and 6-2 against the spread in their past eight games, appear to be worthy of a bet.

But, of course, strange things are happening in the NFL this season. If Pittsburgh can lose to the New York Jets, anything is possible.

And there is a 24-point underdog this week that nobody wants to back.

Four more prayers for Week 12 (home team in CAPS):

• Broncos (+21/2) over BEARS: Three weeks ago, Denver was embarrassed 44-7 by Detroit. But the Broncos are bouncing back, and quarterback Jay Cutler is growing up. Chicago (4-6) is out of playoff contention, and Rex Grossman is still tiny and lacking talent. The Bears are 0-6 as favorites and 0-4 against the spread at home.

• Titans (-1) over BENGALS: It’s tough to have any confidence in Cincinnati, which is on a 6-14-1 tailspin against the spread at home and has dropped five in a row as a home ‘dog. Tennessee is 9-3 against the spread in its past 12 on the road. Titans quarterback Vince Young played well in Monday’s loss at Denver, passing for 301 yards and rushing for 74, and he should repeat that feat against the Bengals’ 30th-ranked defense.

• Saints (-21/2) over PANTHERS: No team is tougher to figure out than New Orleans, which is about to drop out of the playoff picture. But Drew Brees gives the Saints a big edge at quarterback. This is also a good spot for New Orleans. The visitor has covered 11 of 12 in the series, and the Saints are 19-4-1 against the spread in division games on the road.

• Redskins (+31/2) over BUCCANEERS: Washington has dropped two in a row, and coach Joe Gibbs is on the verge of returning to NASCAR, but quarterback Jason Campbell is showing progress. These teams met last year and the Bucs won, 20-17. A field goal could decide this one, too.

Last week: 1-4 against the spread

Season: 23-28-4

Review-Journal sportswriter Matt Youmans can be reached at 387-2907 or myoumans@reviewjournal.com.

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