While many fans, bettors and media pundits are focused on rusty Eli Manning getting an emergency start for the New York Giants on Monday night in Philadelphia against the Eagles (8:15 p.m., ESPN), smart investors will spend some time trying to figure out what’s happening in the City of Brotherly Love.
How could a projected power that won at playoff-bound Green Bay and Buffalo in double-digit road covers sit 5-7 in the standings, 4-8 against the spread?
Philadelphia entered the season not long removed from a Super Bowl win over New England in February 2018. Last season’s hangover lasted longer than expected. But 2019 was supposed to be the bounce-back.
Betting markets posted 10.5 for the Eagles’ 2019 Regular Season Win Total. Same as Kansas City. Better than New Orleans and anyone else in the NFC. Second in the NFL only to New England.
They’re not going to get there.
Those preseason priors as a league elite loomed too large over in-season expectations. Sure, September started sluggishly, but that win at Green Bay must have meant Philly had figured everything out. A 31-13 bash at Buffalo? On that same field, then-Super Bowl favorite New England won only 16-10.
Exceptions to a new rule. Philadelphia is now a generic NFL team. It entered Week 14 ranked 20th in total offense, 14th in total defense and 25th in turnover differential while facing the 20th-ranked schedule in Jeff Sagarin’s respected computer rankings (USA Today).
There are 12 playoff spots in the NFL brackets. Philadelphia isn’t top 12 in anything relevant while playing a slightly subpar schedule.
And the Eagles just suffered a humiliating 37-31 loss in Miami as 10-point favorites. Their defense played worse than ranked, allowing touchdown drives of 61, 75, 75, 84 and 96 yards.
Yes, it’s debatable that the Giants even measure up to Miami right now. The G-men haven’t won a game straight up since late September. They’re 2-6 ATS their last eight games, with both covers coming in five-point losses as six-point underdogs. But if you were thinking of placing a sentimental bet on Manning anyway, at least you’ll be getting a lot of points.
Sharps will likely take the Giants for value if the key number of 10 or more is in play on game day. Old-school bettors in particular like fading favored mediocrities. And Eli Manning is an old-school quarterback!
The public may be swayed by Philadelphia’s need to win in the NFC East race and New York’s need to lose for a shot at the No. 1 draft pick. But there is room for both of those needs to be met in an underdog cover.
Tough to truly love either side. Both have been overrated by betting markets all season, both have turnover-prone offenses and both are dealing with teamwide disappointment and despair in December. And the game will be in the city that famously threw snowballs at Santa Claus 49 years ago this month. You don’t have to bet when it’s bleak!