Eli Manning and the Giants escaped the Buccaneers by the skin of their teeth in week 2. Tonight they travel to Charlotte, NC, to engage Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. Key injuries have turned the G-Men into dogs. Find out how we're playing this with our NFL picks.
If you did your NFL line shopping early enough in the week, you just might have a chance to middle the big Thursday night game between the New York Giants and Carolina Panthers. Most NFL odds makers opened Sunday night or Monday morning with the Giants (1-1 SU, 0-2 ATS) favored by a single point. However, select establishments like Bodog had the G-Men at –1.5, and there was even a –2.5 or two floating around out there.
Nicks and Bruises
Well, those prices sure didn’t
last. New York was a uniform –1 by Tuesday, and on Wednesday, the line swung
toward the Panthers (1-1 SU and ATS) after the surprise announcement that WR
Hakeem Nicks (14 catches for 237 yards and a TD this year) would not even make
the trip to Carolina. Our NFL betting lines show Carolina favored by 2.5 points
at several books.
This gives many of you
early-bird shoppers a chance to middle Thursday night’s matchup. Did you
already buy the Panthers at +2.5? Now you can also buy the Giants at +2.5. If
the game ends with either team winning by one or two points, you get paid
twice. Otherwise, it’s practically a wash. You can’t lose anything but the
juice because you’re playing both sides.
The risk with the making that
second purchase is that, if Carolina prevails by a field goal or more, it would
negate the payout from your first purchase. In fact, you’re very likely to end
up losing a total of $10 by splitting your pair of $110 bets (assuming the
standard vigorish of betting $110 to win $100) if you go for the middle.
But you also have a shot at
winning $200. Would you take 20-1 odds that Thursday night’s game will end up
closer than a field goal?
The hard numbers say you
should. If you look at the past 10 NFL regular seasons, the margin of victory
was a single point in 3.47 percent of the games (down from 4.27 percent a few
years ago, by the way) and two points in 3.55 percent of the games (down from
3.74 percent). That adds up to, let’s see… 7.02 percent, or a little more than
Thursday night’s matchup
certainly looks close on paper. Last year, the Giants finished the regular
season ranked No. 12 on the Football Outsiders efficiency charts, with Carolina
improving from No. 31 to No. 20. The Panthers have made the jump to No. 12
after two games this year, while Big Blue are down to No. 22, so they’re still
both in the middle of the pack despite the small sample size.
There’s obviously room for the
G-Men to improve. Eli Manning (91.6 QB rating) is coming off a furious 41-34
comeback victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+9 away) where he threw a pair
of TDs in the final seven minutes. It won’t be easy for Eli on the road with
Nicks (foot) and WR Domenik Hixon (concussion) both out, but Carolina’s defense
isn’t stellar by any stretch.
My esteemed colleague Patrick
Garry has already picked Carolina +1, and quite frankly, I even like Carolina
–2.5 given the current situation. I do loves me some of that Cam Newton (100.8
QB rating, 4.2 yards per carry). But I would go against my own pick and take
the middle opportunity if I could.
pick: Carolina –2.5