The NFL’s preseason schedule ends around the league on Thursday night. Usually, head coaches don’t play their starters much if at all in the exhibition finale. But New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick has an interesting dilemma on his hands regarding his quarterbacks. The Patriots are underdogs on Sports Interaction’s NFL odds at the New York Giants.
New England Patriots vs. New York Giants
Point Spread: Giants -3 Over/under: 38 Date: Thursday, Sept. 1, 7 p.m. ET Location:MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
New England Patriots
The Patriots’ star quarterback Tom Brady is suspended the first four games of the regular season for his role in Deflategate. Normally, I don’t believe you would see Brady play in the preseason finale. He hasn’t played in one at QB since 2011, but perhaps Belichick wants to keep Brady as sharp as possible because he can’t practice with the team during his suspension. Brady cannot be around the team or have any contact with coaches or players during the suspension, which starts Saturday.
Jimmy Garoppolo will start in the regular season with Brady out, so perhaps Belichick wants to get Garoppolo as many preseason snaps as possible in his final dress rehearsal. But on the flip side, if Garoppolo were to get hurt then New England is in big trouble because the only other QB on the roster is third-round rookie Jacoby Brissett.
Brissett has been so impressive thus far that the Patriots might not feel the need to sign a veteran backup to Garoppolo for the first month of the season. Belichick has hinted that Brissett might start this game. Through three preseason games, Garoppolo has played 113 snaps, Brissett 77 and Brady 16.
The Patriots are one of six unbeaten teams this preseason. The franchise has finished the preseason schedule without a loss just three times previously. The last was in 2003. For what it’s worth, the Patriots won the Super Bowl that year.
New York Giants
If the Giants (1-2) are thinking about winning the Super Bowl, they might want to win this game. The last Super Bowl champion to finish with a losing preseason record was … the Giants in 2007. That year, New York upset unbeaten New England in the title game.
The first-string New York offense has left much to be desired in the preseason and hasn’t scored in the past two games. Last week in a 21-20 win against the Jets, Eli Manning and company played into the third quarter and totaled just 56 yards in eight possessions that included seven Brad Wing punts and a Manning interception.
The lone bright spot vs. the Jets was the return of receiver Victor Cruz, who saw his first game in action in almost 700 days due to injuries. He caught his first pass in a game since hurting knee in 2014. Three Giants defenders were hurt against the Jets and are not going to play in this game. The offensive line has been a major weakness thus far in the preseason.
First-year Giants coach Ben McAdoo says playing time in against New England will depend on a “case-by-case” basis.
Patriots vs. Giants Prediction
It’s the 26th time these teams will meet in a game that doesn’t count and 12th in a row to close the preseason. New York won the preseason game last year 12-9 and leads 16-9 in the exhibition series. They also met last November in the regular season and New England rallied for a 27-26 win on a Stephen Gostkowski 54-yard field goal with one second to play. Lean the Patriots here on NFL odds as I believe most Giants starters will sit but that Brady and Garoppolo will play a fair amount. Go under the total.