Eagles-Giants Betting Preview & Pick: Does the Total Offer Value?
A week ago in my write-up for the Patriots-Colts Thursday Night Football matchup, I discussed how sometimes the perfect play is staring you right in the face. Heading into that game, the Colts were extremely banged-up on both sides of the ball and even though Vegas was laying 10 points to Andrew Luck, the suddenly healthy Patriots looked like the obvious play. New England won easily, covering the spread in the process.
Fast-forward to Monday night, when I foolishly picked against Drew Brees and the Saints. In my breakdown of why the Redskins would cover as a 6-point underdog (they didn’t come close), this is what I wrote in the final paragraph:
“Finally, while the Saints are coming home off back-to-back road games, the Redskins had their bye last week. That means they had two full weeks to prepare for this game, which means 14 full days to put together a game plan to slow down Sean Payton’s offense. Give me the points in what I envision to be a 31-27 game.”
Does anything stand out? Yes, I was wrong about Washington, which had the time off to prepare, but clearly didn’t use it to their advantage. But look at the final sentence again:
“Give me the points in what I envision to be a 31-27 game.”
The total that night was 52 points, a full six points – so one touchdown – lower than my score projection. The Saints scored 43 points by themselves in route to a 43-19 win, which cleared the betting total by 18.5 points.
Too bad I didn’t follow my own advice and went with the option that was staring me right in the face. This isn’t hindsight: I projected the combined score to be 58 points. Why not just take the over?
Nevertheless, I went down in flames with the Redskins on Brees’ historic night and my season record now stands at 18-6-1 ATS following a 3-2 ATS record in Week 5. Week 6 kicks off Thursday night in East Rutherford where the Giants will host the Eagles in a matchup of NFC East rivals. With the point spread dancing all over the place, let’s break this one down and see if we can’t get back into the win column…
103 Philadelphia Eagles at 104 New York Giants
- Point Spread: Eagles -1
- Over/Under: 44
- Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
The line movement for this game has been insane. The Eagles opened as 3-point road favorites on Sunday night but the line ping-ponged between 3 and 2.5 on Monday before settling in at 3. The number stayed at 3 until this morning, when it dropped back down to 2.5. Then it dropped to 2, then 1.5, and now 1.
What does this line movement mean? With most of the betting tickets on the Eagles, it means that oddsmakers have had to react to heavy money coming in on the Giants. Remember, oddsmakers set lines based heavily on historical data, current statistics, injuries and weather. Then they move the line one way or another based on how the market reacts to the number. Clearly, they’ve been forced to react quickly to sharp bettors hammering the home underdog.
As for the total, it opened at 45 but has been bet down to 44.
As of Thursday morning, 58 percent of the betting tickets for this game are on Philadelphia and so is 61 percent of the money. It’s surprising to see that 61 percent of the money is on the Eagles with the line dropping from 3 down to 1 but these figures are from online sportsbooks, not Vegas sportsbooks. Thus, most of the money could be on the Eagles online but in Vegas, there’s no question books are getting hit hard by money on the Giants.
Evan Engram (knee) is out for the Giants, who could also be without backup tight end Rhett Ellison (foot, questionable). The good news for New York is that pass-rusher Olivier Vernon (ankle) was removed from the team’s injury report and will make his season debut after missing the first five games with a high-ankle sprain. Kicker Aldrick Rosas was also removed from the Giants’ Week 6 injury report.
The Eagles, meanwhile, are extremely banged-up. Running back Jay Ajayi was placed on injured reserve with a torn ACL, effectively ending his season. Corey Clement is expected to be the team’s lead back tonight, although Wendell Smallwood will also factor in as well with Darren Sproles (hamstring) out. Right tackle Lane Johnson is questionable with an ankle injury and could miss tonight’s game. If he does, Halapoulivaati Vaitai will draw the start. (More on Philly’s defensive injuries in the “Prediction” section.)
The Eagles are 8-3 against the spread in their last 11 road games versus the Giants, who are 6-13-1 against the number in their last 20 games versus Philadelphia overall. The over is also 6-0 in the last six meetings between these two teams and is 5-0 in the last five meetings overall.
I wouldn’t touch this point spread. Public bettors keep waiting for the Eagles to round back into Super Bowl shape, but they’ve looked anything but the past five weeks. Even their two victories (Falcons Week 1 and Colts Week 4) were struggles. On the other side, the Giants were a nice value play at +3 but with the line down to 1, again, I wouldn’t touch the spread.
There is value in the total, however. The Eagles are the only NFL team yet to score at least 24 points in a game this season and the Giants just scored 30 points for the first time since Week 17 of 2015 in their loss last Sunday to the Panthers.
So, take the under, right?
I think it would be a mistake to try and predict the final score tonight based on what we saw from these two teams the first five weeks of the season. Carson Wentz came back in Week 3 and it’s taken some time to shake off the rust. He did throw for 311 yards and two touchdowns last week against the Vikings, however. It was the second straight game he threw for over 300 yards with two scores and his 8.89 yards-per-pass average was the highest mark of the season. In other words, we’re slowly starting to see the Wentz that emerged as an MVP candidate a year ago.
For the Giants, their offense was a mess heading into Week 5, but they impressed in Carolina. Had Graham Gano not hit a 63-yard field goal as time expired, the Giants would have won their second game of the season.
Regardless, Eli Manning was finally more than just a warm body under center for New York. He completed 22-of-36 passes for 326 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. I thought the Giants should have drafted their quarterback of the future with the No. 2 overall pick in April’s draft but those feelings aside, perhaps Manning is improving now that he has a full five weeks in Pat Shurmur’s offense.
Philly has problems defensively. They’ve allowed just 14.6 points in three home games this year (the Vikings scored a touchdown last week on a fumble, so those points don’t count against the Eagles’ defense), but they’ve surrendered 26.5 points per game in road losses to Tampa Bay and Tennessee. In fact, under defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, the Eagles are allowing 10 more points per game on the road than at home.
Last week versus Minnesota, Philadelphia also surrendered seven passes that went for 10 yards or more. Without defensive tackles Timmy Jernigan and Haloti Ngata, safety Rodney McLeod, and defensive end Derek Barnett, the Eagles have been bitten hard by the injury bug. The Eagles won the Super Bowl last year thanks to a red-hot Nick Foles and a stout defensive front seven. The defense has had moments this season, highlighted by the game-winning stop against Atlanta in Week 1, but too often the Eagles have allowed big plays defensively the past three weeks.
To recap, Eli might be settling into his new offense, Wentz might be settling into a rhythm, and this isn’t the same Philly defense that led the Eagles to a Super Bowl victory earlier this year. With the total sitting at only 44 points, I like the over.
Pick: Over 44
ATS Season Records
- Week 1: 5-0
- Week 2: 3-2
- Week 3: 4-1
- Week 4: 3-1-1
- Week 5: 3-2
- Overall: 18-6-1
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.