Lumber is a major industry in the Northwest.
There is an expression in wagering on National Football League games that if you back a big point spread favorite, you are “laying the lumber.”
On Sunday, the Seattle Seahawks host the New York Giants who may have to go without their second-year quarterback, Daniel Jones, who was dinged last week in Cincinnati while the Giants were beating the Bengals. Even if Jones does start, he will not be at full strength.
If Jones was at full strength, is he capable of leading the Giants to a west coast win over the Seahawks?
Well, first of all, the Giants are a lot better than most people know. They come to Seattle riding a three game winning streak and have beaten the point spread seven times in eleven decisions this season. First-year head coach Joe Judge has both earned the respect of his players for his discipline in doing what it takes to win, but they also like the guy for the humanity he has shown his team.
He is not someone who is going to throw one of his players under the bus, but rather step in front of a bus to protect his men.
Now, from where I come, being liked is of little consequence. One of my heroes, Bill Parcells, had many NFL head coaching stops and was a consistent winner, which included guiding the New York Giants to a pair of Super Bowl wins. He was never focused on the need for anyone to like him. One of Parcells’ coaching stops was Dallas, where he built a playoff team after the Cowboys had mostly floundered in the seasons following the departure of Jimmy Johnson.
Before Parcells arrived to take over Jerry Jones’ team, the Cowboys had a likable guy running their team on the field, Dave Campo. He ended his three year tenure as Dallas head coach with 15 wins and 33 losses. When Parcells showed up for the 2003 season, it was like the parents just arrived after the kids were allowed to run wild.
In his first three seasons at the helm, Parcells had reestablished Jerry Jones’ team as a playoff participant, but conflict arose when the team owner wanted to sign Terrell Owens and the coach didn’t. A year after Jones chose a receiver against the coach he had brought in to restore order, Parcells left. In the first training camp after Parcells was gone, more than one Dallas player mentioned how much more fun playing for the Cowboys was now that Parcells was gone.
Fun, yes, but while they were having fun they also failed to win consistently.
Now, in Judge, the Giants may have struck that perfect balance with a head coach that is rock solid on his hardline principals in order to lead his team to wins, and an eye on the well-being of both his players and their families. The combination has had early success. A team that lost their star running back, Saquon Barkley, at the start of the campaign to a season ending injury, is still playing competitively into December.
The future for the Giants is bright, but the present, well that may not be what New York fans are hoping for this week.
They visit Seattle, a team that has another man that has balanced discipline with a relationship with his players that is most effective, head coach Pete Carroll.
This year, the Seahawks are in an NFC West battle that they appear destined to win against three other quality football teams; the Los Angeles Rams, Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers.
The Seahawks have beaten two of those division opponents in big games this year, and before they close out the season with a revenge contest against the Rams and a second meeting with the 49ers, they have three games that appear on paper to be very winnable against the Giants, New York Jets and Washington Redskins.
Now, from a handicapping perspective, playing in Washington before their games against two of their NFC West rivals might be dicey. And taking for granted that a game against the Jets this year is little more than a fly over, could be a trap.
But here, on Sunday, playing a Giants team that they know is better than most people assume, is not a spot for a soft performance or letdown, but rather a likely home team romp.
In other words, in Seattle, lay the lumber.
Qoxhi Picks: Seattle Seahawks (-10½) over New York Giants