Last week, I said to take the Over and the Eagles +11. The over hit, but the Eagles didn’t cover. I should have made it more clear, but the Over/Under was clearly the bet in which I had more confidence. This week, it’s the reverse, I like the spread a lot more than the Over/Under.
For reference, here’s the SBNation odds page.
Note there is some discrepancy between sources. The spread ranges from Eagles +3 to Eagles +1. Note the +1 spreads have better payoffs.
Meanwhile, there’s a consensus Over/Under of 53.5 (one site has 53).
Let’s start with the spread. Should the Eagles even be underdogs?
According to Football Outsiders, no.
They’ve got the Eagles at 26th overall, with a DVOA of -14.9%
The Giants, meanwhile, rank 31st overall, with a DVOA of -48.7%.
While both teams rank poorly, that’s a big difference. For example, the distance between the Eagles’ and Giants’ DVOA is roughly the same as the difference between the Eagles and the Patriots. The DVOA stats aren’t meant to be used this way, but it’s illustrative of the fact that, while both teams have looked bad, the Giants have looked much worse.
It should also be noted that the Giants, using FO’s metrics, have played the HARDEST schedule in the league to date. However, the Eagles have played the 2nd hardest. While this doesn’t do much for our comparison, it’s important in that it indicates both teams might actually be better than they currently seem to be.
Here’s the relevant info:
– The Giants have scored 61 points, and rank 31st in DVOA (FO).
– The Eagles have allowed 138 points, and rank 30th.
– The Eagles have scored 99 points, and rank 5th.
– The Giants have allowed 146 points, and rank 22nd.
From those stats, it’s pretty clear that the bigger advantage lies with the Eagles Offense (5th) against the Giants defense (22nd). Conversely, the Eagles defense gets a break. While the Giants have weapons (namely Victor Cruz), they don’t represent anything close to what the team had to deal with last week.
If we look at Special Teams, we get even more support for the Eagles. While STs have been terrible the past two weeks, and predictably rank very low by DVOA (31st), they have the good fortune of playing against the only team ranked worse. That’s right, the Giants rank 32nd, negating what could have been a substantial advantage.
We’re not done yet though.
Let’s look at the Sacks numbers. As I explained last week, Sack Differential is an excellent indicator of team success.
The Eagles are – 4.
The Giants are -10.
Both teams have actually taken the same number of sacks (14), but the Giants have just 4 sacks on defense. As we’ve all seen, Vick, without pressure, is a much different player than Vick with pressure. The data thus far suggests we’ll see the good version on Sunday.
All told, I think it’s crazy that the Eagles aren’t slight favorites in this game. I realize the “home premium” accounts for that difference, but in this case I think it’s unwarranted. In fact, if you’re betting the game, take the alternative line (pick’em) for a better payout.
The Over/Under, on the other hand, is murkier.
The line is 53.5.
Given that two of the worst defenses in league are involved, we should expect a lot of points. So far, the games these teams have been involved in have averaged 55.5 total points, and just 3 of the 8 games have failed to record more than 53.5.
If you’re taking a side here, I’d go with the over. The Eagles are primed for a big performance, and it’d surprise me if the team didn’t score 30 (remember they scored 30+ against both the Redskins and the Chargers).
The question is what can we expect from the Giants. Honestly, I have no idea. To date the New York offense has been terrible. However, given the Eagles’ defensive play, I find it hard to believe the Giants won’t move the football.
Therefore, I think the Over is the SLIGHTLY better side, but be cautious with this one.
The risk, as I see it, is for a sloppy, turnover/penalty filled game in which both teams move the ball easily but fail to score TDs consistently. We’ve already seen the Eagles blow great scoring chances and settle for FGs. If that happens, I still like the Eagles to cover (and win), but hitting 53.5 is out of the question. It’s up to you to decide how likely this scenario is to play out.