Here is the third installment of our assessment of the upcoming Monday Night Football Game between The New York Giants and the Washington Redskins.


Giants vs. Redskins: Betting the Spread

Jason’s record on NFL picks for 2012, up to December 1:

37-21-2 ATS

9-4 ML (+637)

9-14-1 Totals

The NFL odds for Monday Night Football are brought to you by the number three. Are Eli Manning and the New York Giants still worth taking as 3-point favorites against Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins?

GIANTI did say earlier this week that I’d reconsider the Giants as my MNF pick this week if the football lines moved in their direction. Well, here we are: New York –3 is the standard offering at most of the 29 books on our NFL odds board, up from –2.5 when I made Big Blue my original selection.

Figgie Duff

That’s as big as half a point can get. For those of you who are new to betting on football, we talk about the number three as a “magic” number, because that’s the winning point margin for more NFL games than any other – roughly one in six games is decided by a field goal 

People start acting funny when there’s magic in the air. Bookmakers tread carefully when the pointspread approaches three; they’ll usually adjust the vigorish first, since the move from 2.5 to three points (or from three to 3.5) is worth about the same as moving the vig all the way from –110 to +110. We’re talking around 20 percent here. The bad guys in Die Hard cooked up that whole hostage scenario so they could earn 20 percent. Per year. 

Mr. Juicy

As I wrote this early Saturday evening, handicappers had a wide range of betting lines from which to choose, even with most of the books hanging around New York –3. Here were the best prices available within that range as we went to press:

William Hill: New York –2.5 (–120)

Pinnacle: New York –3 (+101)

Again, we see about 20 cents difference between the two lines. They’re virtually equal in value; for all the times you took the Pinnacle line and ended up with a push instead of a win, you’d expect to make back that money in vigorish by betting $100 to win $101, instead of betting $120 to win $100.

This is why sharp handicappers are so picky about where they shop. I don’t add up these differences in juice when I compile my ATS record for my picks here at SBR, but you’d better believe they add up in the bottom line.

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The Man with Three First Names

Aside from the movement in the NFL betting lines, there are two football-related reasons for Giants supporters to worry this week. Safety Kenny Phillips is doubtful for Monday’s contest (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) after re-injuring his MCL against the Green Bay Packers. And DE Jason Pierre-Paul is officially listed as questionable after sitting out practice on Friday and Saturday with back spasms.

This might not be that much of a difference-maker for Big Blue. Phillips had already missed six games with his knee injury, during which the Giants went 4-2 SU and 3-3 ATS. New York started the season 2-2 SU and 1-2-1 ATS with Phillips in the lineup. As for Pierre-Paul, he’s arguably the best player on the Giants defense (46 tackles, 6.5 sacks, one INT) if not the entire team. But head coach Tom Coughlin expressed confidence that Pierre-Paul would play Monday.

Good enough for me. This isn’t a five-star pick by any means; as I’ve already said, Washington QB Robert Griffin III (104.6 passer rating, 6.4 yards per carry) is the best quarterback in this game and one of the best anywhere. The Giants need their defense to step up Monday. I’m at least 53-percent confident that they will.

NFL Pick: Take the Giants –2.5 (–120) at William Hill