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Why These 7-3 Overachievers Are Postseason Longshots

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Will the New York Giants make the playoffs this season? The Giants’ playoff odds still favor “yes,” as would be the case for most 7-3 teams. As of November 23, FanDuel Sportsbook is giving them -144 odds to reach the postseason and +126 odds to miss it. But a strong case could be made that they’re postseason longshots, with a nine-win season serving more as a realistic ceiling than a floor.

Soft Schedule Turns Difficult for New York Giants

Since losing to the Cowboys (who started Cooper Rush for the injured Dak Prescott) in Week 3, New York has one signature win (the Ravens) and four victories against teams with 4-7, 3-7, 3-8, and 1-8-1 records. They also defeated the now 3-8 Panthers in Week 2.

Sure, most teams have their fair share of favorable matchups. But each of those five wins was by eight points or less. The Giants are 21st in points scored. They’re threading the needle between W’s and L’s, winding up on the plus side more often than not, and often late in games. In fact, they’ve scored the eighth most fourth-quarter points in the league.

MORE: NFL Super Bowl Odds Week 12

Their remaining schedule is perhaps the toughest in the NFL, with two games against Philly, two against Washington, and tough matchups against Minnesota and Indy. Home tilts against the Commanders and Colts offer their best hope at nine wins. Beyond that, they’ll need to play their best to hit 10 — a key number for teams vying for a playoff berth.

Key Losses: Kadarius Toney and Wan’Dale Robinson

In the past few weeks, the Giants sent the disgruntled Kadarius Toney packing and then lost Wan’Dale Robinson to a torn ACL. Simply put, today’s Giants are a far cry from the September version, when Saquon Barkley and Sterling Shepard helped propel them to a surprising 2-0 start.

But with Shepard and now Robinson out for the season, Toney gone, and Kenny Golladay seemingly finished in New York, Daniel Jones has to lean more on Darius Slayton. As well as Slayton has played in a depleted receiving corps, he entered camp this summer as the likely No. 5 or even No. 6 wideout.

Aside from Slayton, their top healthy pass catchers consist of Richie James, Isaiah Hodgins, and Lawrence Cager. Yeah, exactly.

And back to Golladay: he’s dropped four passes on 10 targets (40%). In his first five seasons, he dropped only 13 balls on 391 targets (3.3%). Do you think he’s having fun playing this season?

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It All Rests on Saquon Barkley

As I’ve written for some time, this is perhaps the league’s most one-dimensional offense. The Titans, Texans, and perhaps one or two other teams could vie for this coveted prize. But with apologies to Derrick Henry, I would argue no team needs their RB more than the Giants need Barkley.

The problem is that Barkley is also one of the more injury-prone starting RBs. He missed most of 2020 and appeared to show lingering effects in an underwhelming, injury-shortened 2021 campaign.

Remarkably, he’s been durable this season. But how long can he keep this up?

Because he’s still on pace for 415 touches, which could balloon to 500 if the Giants somehow make a deep postseason run. The all-time record is 531 (Terrell Davis in 1997). Only three other RBs in NFL history have hit 500+ touches.

Since 2015, no RB has matched Barkley’s pace across a full season — and for good reasons. As I shared with PFN Pass subscribers this summer, teams have learned the hard way that overworking their starting running backs increases injury and regression risks.

Barkley averaged a blistering 5.5 yards per carry in 97 attempts in his first five games. In his five games since, his usage has jumped (116 attempts), while efficiency has plummeted (3.6 yards per carry).

He’s also been far less effective in the passing game, catching 13 passes for only 67 yards in this recent five-game stretch. When compared to his 18-143 receiving line in his first five outings, we can see how defenses (such as the Lions) have focused more on stopping Barkley and daring Daniel Jones to beat them.

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Final Record Prediction

Heading into Week 12, the Giants’ playoff odds suggest that bookmakers still believe the 7-3 Giants will make the playoffs. The New York Times puts their odds at 67%. As referenced above, FanDuel Sportsbook and other sites are offering lines with considerably bigger payouts if you bet against New York.

I’m firmly in the latter camp. The Giants need a lot of things to break right to win nine games, and 10 would require a level of play I don’t think they can sustain.



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Early Colts vs. Cowboys Prediction, Odds, and Picks for Week 13

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Our Indianapolis Colts vs. Dallas Cowboys prediction takes a look at the Week 13 matchup that features one team set on making a deep playoff run and another that will be looking for a new head coach in just a few short months.

Let’s take a look at the current sports betting odds, key storylines to watch, and make a prediction for the game. Note that all odds are from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Tuesday, Nov. 29.

Colts vs. Cowboys Odds | Week 13

  • Spread
    Cowboys -10
  • Moneyline
    Cowboys -520, Colts +410
  • Over/Under
    44 points

Colts vs. Cowboys Prediction

The Colts made a change at QB just a few short weeks ago, and it seemed – for a brief moment – that they may have found something with new interim head coach Jeff Saturday. The Colts were able to beat the Las Vegas Raiders 25-20 back on Nov. 13, but since then, they have lost two straight and most likely seem destined for a third loss based on who their opponent is.

The Colts are in line for a tough outing this next week against a Cowboys defense that has suffocated opposing offenses so far this season. The Cowboys are allowing the fewest points per game this year at just 17.0, and their pass defense is a big reason for that mark. Dallas’ secondary is allowing just 177.7 passing yards per contest, which is also the best in the NFL, and the Colts are going to need to turn more to the ground game here this week.

The key for the Colts to keeping this game close will be their offensive line owning the line of scrimmage. If they can consistently move the Dallas interior defenders back in the run game and create holes for Jonathan Taylor, the Colts have a chance of controlling the momentum of this game.

Additionally, they’ll need to be sound in pass protection when they do throw the ball with Matt Ryan due to Dallas’ ability to get after the QB. If they can get solid play from their line, they have a shot of making this a close contest.

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On the other side of the ball, Dallas is getting hot at just the right time. They’ve now won four out of their last five games and have averaged an astonishing 33.8 points per game over that time frame. On top of that, they remain heavily linked to Odell Beckham Jr. as he makes visits before deciding where to sign, and he could help take the offense to even greater heights if he does choose to land in Dallas.

The driving force for the Cowboys’ offensive explosion has been their tandem of running backs. Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard have accounted for five of the team’s touchdowns on offense in just the past two games alone.

Indianapolis has allowed just 96 rushing yards per game over their last three contests, but Dallas has gotten Pollard heavily involved as a receiver in recent weeks, and this is where the Colts have struggled. They’re allowing 40.8 receiving yards per game to opposing RBs, and that mark is near the top of the league. Dallas could easily attack this weakness with a dynamic receiving threat like Pollard.

Dallas will also be able to make Ryan uncomfortable behind the Colts’ offensive line. Indianapolis is currently allowing the most sacks per game at 3.6, and now face Micah Parsons and the Cowboys’ pass rush. If the Colts have to pass it and Dallas can get to Ryan, this game could get ugly.

Colts vs. Cowboys Prediction
Cowboys 27, Colts 17

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Xavier Hutchinson, WR, Iowa State

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Iowa State WR Xavier Hutchinson, despite his production and his scouting report, remains one of the more underrated receivers in the 2023 NFL Draft. It’s a deep class that can work to Hutchinson’s detriment. But looking at the tape, he has the tools to secure a role early in the NFL.

Xavier Hutchinson NFL Draft Profile

  • Position: Wide Receiver
  • School: Iowa State
  • Current Year: Redshirt Senior
  • Height/Weight: 6’3″, 205 pounds

Quietly, Xavier Hutchinson has been one of the most productive receivers in college football since 2020. He has almost 3,000 receiving yards over that span and has been a target funnel for an Iowa State passing attack that’s relied almost entirely on his presence.

Seeing his production, you’d almost be surprised that Hutchinson wasn’t a highly-coveted recruit out of high school. As a matter of fact, Hutchinson had to take the JUCO route to the FBS level.

Two years at Blinn JC helped get Hutchinson onto the map. After a sophomore season that saw him catch 47 passes for 652 yards and five touchdowns, he started to field offers from Power Five teams as a JUCO transfer. Oklahoma, Utah, TCU, and Nebraska all offered Hutchinson, but he chose to stay in Iowa and signed with the Cyclones.

Since then, Hutchinson has known nothing but production. He caught 64 passes for 771 yards and four scores in 2020. 83 catches for 987 yards and five scores in 2021. And in 2022, he’s amassed career-highs in all categories, with 105 catches for 1,160 yards and six touchdowns.

A 2022 Biletnikoff semifinalist with massive numbers to his name, it’s a foregone conclusion that Hutchinson will see the field on Sundays. But how does he project, and where might he come off the board in April?

Xavier Hutchinson Scouting Report

Production, size, experience — Hutchinson passes a lot of the surface-level eye tests. But does his profile hold up when we put it under the microscope? Let’s dive in.

Hutchinson’s Positives

Whether you use film or analytics as your primary mode of evaluation, you’ll find that Hutchinson checks a lot of boxes. We’ve already noted his production, and as one might expect, he’s a very well-rounded receiver on the field.

First and foremost, Hutchinson brings solid size and athletic ability. He’s a well-built receiver with great height and weight and has great accelerative capacity off the line.

He can gear up quickly with urgent steps and shows off good burst upfield when attacking space or surging inside on mesh and drag routes. And while he’s not a burner downfield, he does have enough speed to stack DBs with long-strider acceleration.

Expanding on Hutchinson’s athletic skill set, the Iowa State WR possesses good lateral twitch and loose hips in space. He’s shown he can sink to a degree and levy quick cuts to create space and disrupt tackling angles. He’s also able to press upfield at sharp angles out of cuts after starting horizontally.

To a degree, Hutchinson’s athleticism translates to good natural route running potential. He flashes smooth lateral athleticism at stems and can square up defenders with split releases, then roll his hips and stack upfield.

The Cyclones star has the loose hips and lateral agility to cut stems quickly and attack sharp angles, and he can also press upfield, tempo his advance into stems, and explode laterally on out routes.

Overall, Hutchinson has above-average timing and zone awareness as a route runner. He can sneak into blind spots and attack open windows. Additionally, he’s shown he can manipulate DBs with lateral twitch and stride variations on double-moves.

Plus, he can use a dead-leg move to freeze DBs at the stem. In a similar vein, Hutchinson can manipulate DBs with initial attack angles before displacing laterally and exploding upfield.

Hutchinson’s lateral agility, for his size, allows him to gain separation with relative ease, as well as line up in the slot or on the boundary. But what truly accentuates his profile as one with early-round upside is his elite catching instincts. Hutchinson is extremely natural at the catch point and impressively consistent across different situations.

MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Big Board

Hutchinson can naturally corral short passes over the middle of the field in-stride, cradling with his hands. He’s also shown he can elevate and extend beyond his frame to bring in high passes, and he actively clamps down with his hands to secure throws.

The Iowa State WR has excellent ball-tracking ability downfield as well. He can roam under passes and guide with his hands while extending beyond his frame, and he very naturally adjusts to passes high or behind him with smooth body control.

Hutchinson can make high-difficulty adjustments with little response time as a catcher. He flashes especially absurd focus and coordination on deflected passes, as he can instantly recalibrate and reposition himself.

Hutchinson’s hands also enable him to convert in these situations. His hand/eye coordination is exceptional in high-difficulty situations, and he consistently uses diamond technique to get his hands in the right spot.

Hutchinson’s proven he can secure passes with his hands while diving or making catches from other points of imbalance. In these instances, he showcases exceptional hand strength when working amidst contact and can maintain possession through the catch process.

His hands are authoritative in 50-50 situations, and he seeks out the ball with zeal. But he also makes an effort to keep the ball away from his frame, minimizing body-catching before securing and protecting the ball with his frame.

With his size, Hutchinson has proven he can get an edge on defenders with targeted physicality, play strength, and frame usage. Over the middle of the field, he’s able to secure passes amidst contact. But he can also use proactive, targeted physicality to pry past defenders at stems.

He’ll utilize double swipes to compound separation before breaking inside, and he can sync his swipes with lateral moves to maximize space.

This physicality and play strength shows up after the catch as well. While Hutchinson doesn’t often bounce off first contact, he can fight and step through arm tackles and recollect his feet to carry acceleration forward. Moreover, he can reset his feet quickly after catches to align himself for contact, and he has the size and leg drive to churn through solo tackles for decent yardage.

Lastly, Hutchinson is, at the very least, a willing blocker who can square up defenders and use his frame to box out opponents on running plays.

Hutchinson’s Areas for Improvement

While Hutchinson is a solid overall athlete for his size, he might not be elite in any one physical area.

Hutchinson doesn’t have elite explosiveness upfield or out of breaks, and he lacks elite deep speed, showing a visible cap in downfield range. Moreover, Hutchinson lacks the elite agility, foot speed, and twitch to immediately sink, decelerate, and evade tackles after securing throws in stride. When aiding direction changes, he can’t always uncoil quickly after gaining momentum.

Hutchinson’s non-elite athletic traits don’t tank his upside in the NFL, but they do necessitate further growth as a route runner because the margin for error may be a bit smaller for him.

At times, Hutchinson can be more disciplined pressing upfield ahead of stems on quick hitches and comebacks. He sometimes drifts back a bit after breaking, and he’ll also rotate around on quick breaks, failing to freeze DBs.

MORE: PFN Mock Draft Simulator

Overall, Hutchinson is a bit tall and upright as a route runner and lacks elite hip sink. Naturally, he can be a bit sharper and more efficient with transitions at times. He occasionally unhinges his hips too early at stems, keying in DBs on breaks. On a related note, he can be more consistent squaring up at stems to hold DBs, and he sometimes drifts a bit on vertical paths.

Hutchinson can seek more efficiency with his usage of physicality as well. Although he’s fairly proficient at using targeted physicality, he occasionally gets too grabby in contact situations, risking offensive pass interference.

Among other things, Hutchinson doesn’t have the elite hand strength to consistently convert on acrobatic one-handed opportunities, and he sometimes lets the ball bounce free at contact with the ground.

While he has decent length, his proportional length is middling and slightly limits his catch radius. And as a blocker, he sometimes only seeks to obstruct and doesn’t sustain blocks or engage with hands.

Current Draft Projection for Iowa State WR Xavier Hutchinson

Hutchinson grades as a solid Day 2 prospect at the wide receiver position. Within that range, there may be some variance based on team preferences and individual evaluations. But Hutchinson is undoubtedly deserving of consideration in the top 100, and a strong offseason — with Senior Bowl and NFL Combine showings on deck — could move him up.

Hutchinson has good size, decent length, and a solid overall athletic skill set. Although he plays a bit tall at times as a route runner, he has the necessary lateral agility, twitch, hip fluidity, and burst to create separation. He has enough juice as a long-strider to stack DBs. And few WRs in the 2023 NFL Draft are better than Hutchinson at the catch point.

Since he’s not a quantifiably elite athlete, Hutchinson should work to keep refining his route running efficiency at the next level. There’s still some wasted motion at times, and he can work to expand his route tree and release package a bit more.

But there’s enough there already — he has enough foot speed and sink to work with. And Hutchinson can also be a RAC threat in space with his play strength, leg churn, and lateral agility.

As a movement Z who can man both the slot and the boundary, Hutchinson presents a lot of projected appeal. He can win in one-on-one situations or use space to his advantage. On Day 1, he can be a valuable addition to a WR rotation, and he has enough physical upside to develop into an above-average NFL starter with safety blanket value.



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Reese’s Senior Bowl Invites 2023

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Stay up to date with the entire list of athletes that have accepted their 2023 Reese’s Senior Bowl invites and their lead-up to the 2023 NFL Draft.



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