I promise i’ll get back to the “Not All Points Are Created Equal” post soon, hopefully tomorrow, and incorporate some of the very good comments/feedback I’ve received (both here and at BGN). For now though, here’s a breakdown of this week’s betting lines for the Eagles/Giants. I’m doing a weekly breakdown for BGN, so obviously I’ll share it here as well (though I think I forgot to post it here last week). I’ve had a pretty good season thus far, hopefully that continues (straight up, I’m challenging Jaworski for the top spot in the Sports Media Monitor’s rankings, seen here.)
After a few very successful weeks, I got tripped up by last week’s Eagles/Cowboys game. I did say that I’d take the Cowboys, so I was on point there, but I was also confident in the Over, especially if it was teased down by 6 points. Obviously, the teams came nowhere near hitting the over.
I’m not going to rehash why the over didn’t it, because I think it’s instructive without explanation. Basically, games don’t have to proceed as all reason and logic suggest they should. I doubt anybody doesn’t already know that, but it helps to be reminded from time to time.
With that, let’s try to do a bit better this time. The Eagles visit the Giants on Sunday, and as I’m writing this, the lines are as follows:
Spread – There is some disagreement among the online bookmakers, though all of them have the Eagles as favorites. The lines range from -4.5 (BetOnline) to -6 (Bovada). As I’ve previously explained, I’m going to use Bovada as the default, so for today’s breakdown, we’ll be assuming Eagles -6.
Over/Under – A little more agreement here. It’s set at 51 or 52, depending on the source. We’ll go with 52.
Here are the major stats:
– The Eagles have a point differential of -27. The Giants have a differential of -90, which is worse than every other team in the league outside of Jacksonville.
– The Eagles have scored 169 points, and rank 8th overall in Offensive DVOA (14.2%, Football Outsiders). The Giants have allowed 216 points, and have the 23rd ranked defense by DVOA (5.2%).
– The Eagles have allowed 196 points, and rank 29th overall in Defensive DVOA (12.1%). The Giants have scored just 126 points, and rank 29th overall by Offensive DVOA (-18.2%).
– The Eagles Special Teams rank 28th by DVOA. Fortunately, the Giants are worse (31st).
– Overall, the Eagles Team DVOA is -4.6%, good (bad?) for 20th overall. The Giants rank 31st in the league, at -34.9%.
As I just showed, there’s no question that the Eagles are the better team. In both traditional measures and “advanced” ones like DVOA, the Eagles maintain a significant advantage over the Giants. The question, of course, is how much better?
Normally, I’d be happy with the -6 line, on the Eagles side. After all, the teams played each other just 3 weeks ago, at which time the Eagles won by 15 points. However, there’s the extremely significant issue of Michael Vick’s health to account for. Put simply, we have no idea how healthy Vick is or if he’ll be at all inhibited on Sunday. He is going to play, but if he’s a shell of his normal self, it obviously affects the outcome of the game somewhat dramatically.
With Nick Foles likely out of commission, if Vick re-aggravates his injury (or suffers a new one), the Eagles will be relying on Matt Barkley, in which case I’d be avoiding the Eagles -6 line like the plague.
In a sense, this is a pretty simple analysis, and the outcome just depends on your personal view of Vick’s health. If Vick plays and is anywhere close to 100%, then take the Eagles with confidence. If you think Vick is more injured than the team is letting on, then stay away from the game.
Me? I’m inclined to go for it. As I said, the team’s just played each other 3 weeks ago and the Eagles won by 15 points. Even if Vick is not quite 100%, the team shouldn’t have trouble winning by a touchdown. The only player on the Giants that worries me is Victor Cruz, and he has registered more than 5 catches just twice this season, with the last time coming back in week 4 against the Chiefs.
6 points is a fairly large line, especially considering the Eagles schizophrenic performance this year (and the terrible defense), but, as anybody who watched the Giants-Vikings knows, the Giants are REALLY bad. Barring a complete “shit the bed” performance from the Eagles or a serious injury to Vick, I say the Eagles cover fairly easily.
The Pick: Eagles -6
The Over/Under is a bit trickier, largely as a result of the Eagles inexplicably bad performance on Sunday (well Nick Foles’ inexplicably bad performance). With the line at 52 points, these teams need to score fairly often to hit the over. That’s a little under 7.5 touchdowns. Can these teams do it?
Eagles games, thus far, have averaged 52.14 points, just above this game’s line.
Giants games have averaged 48.86 points.
So that doesn’t help much. Against the Over/Under, the teams are a combined 9-5, meaning the “market” has generally underestimated the amount of points these two teams will score/allow. Point for the over.
In the team’s last meeting, the final score was 36-21, or a combined 57 points. So another point for the over.
We also have last week’s results to account for. Here, I’m talking about the Recency Effect, or people’s general habit of overweighting the most recent information. Against the Cowboys, the Eagles offense looked terrible. The team scored just 3 points. So a 51 point line is crazy, right?
That’s what I’m hoping “the public” thinks, because I’m taking the over. As some of the All-22 breakdowns have noted, the Eagles poor offensive performance was largely the result of a very bad game from Nick Foles. As you may have noticed, Nick Foles is not the Eagles QB this week. In other words, last week was likely an anomaly, and we should expect the team’s offensive output to come much closer to the 30 point level it’s hit 4 times this year.
Last game, the Eagles scored 36. If the team repeats that performance, the Giants need to score just 16 points to push the O/U line. The Eagles defense has been playing a bit better recently, but let’s not lose sight of the big picture, it’s still quite bad. Conveniently enough, the team has yet to hold a team below 17 points.
All together, I’m taking the Over, though I’m less confident on this side of the game than I am on the Spread. Note that this too is predicated on Vick playing, and not missing a significant part of the game with injury. That’s your risk here, adjust your personal thoughts accordingly.
I feel best about the Spread, taking the Eagles at -6 (though obviously go get the -4.5 or -5 if you’re not agnostic regarding the bookmaker).
If I take the Over/Under, I’m going Over the posted 52 points. This one’s a bigger risk, but I think it’s a better bet than the Under, though not by a large margin.
I’m staying away from a teaser option this week, though if I was doing it I’d push the game to a Pick’em and take the Eagles while moving the O/U down to 46 and take the over. The reason I’m not going for this option is because you’re not getting enough risk reduction in the lines to account for the payout difference (slightly worse with the teaser). If the Eagles win, it’s very likely to be by at least 6 points. If they lose, it probably involves a Vick injury, in which case the Eagles wins of 1-5 points become much more unlikely.