Since the Dallas Cowboys lost last Thursday to the Chicago Bears, the Philadelphia Eagles have known they can move into a first place tie in the NFC East Division with a win tonight over the New York Giants.
Do you think that improves their chances for a Monday Night Football victory at Lincoln Financial Field?
Logic would suggest it does; history shows it doesn’t.
In fact, the motivation for the Eagles tonight would be better if the Cowboys had won in Chicago and Philadelphia was simply in the chase. But, when the pendulum swings to a team with a losing record afforded the opportunity of gaining a share of first place, the motivation shifts to their opponent.
Tonight, that opponent, the Giants, also come in with a losing mark, buried in the NFC East cellar with a 2-10 won/loss record. That record is only marginally improved when the point spread is factored into the equation, the Giants are 4-8 versus the line this season. The Eagles come into play tonight with a straight-up mark of 5-7 and a point spread record equal to the Giants, 4-8.
In other words, based on the spread, the Giants have benefited from their underdog roles and the Eagles have been overrated.
Still, one would expect the public would be backing the Eagles tonight given they have a higher regard in public opinion and most would think their opportunity to gain a share of first place would add a spike in their performance. In fact, that is how the betting started this week, with the Eagles attracting nearly 55% of the wagers while opening as an 8½ point home favorite.
Today, the Eagles are favored by nine points, but the majority of wagers on this game have shifted to the Giants, with New York collecting 57% of the bettors to their side.
Does this match up? They are betting on the Giants and the line is going up. Nope, that doesn’t match up. Why?
The move to the Giants was prompted when it was announced that rookie quarterback Daniel Jones is sidelined with an injury and veteran Eli Manning will get the start behind center. Seems the public anticipates the move to Manning enhancing the Giants chances for success … while at the same time the books have moved the line to make Manning’s team an underdog with more points on the spread.
Which leaves us to decide whether we want to go with the public action and take nine points in a spot where the Giants should be better motivated to win based on the Eagles needing the game and the Giants having nothing left to play for this season except messing up Philadelphia’s postseason plans. Or, follow the books lead, and lay the nine points expecting the superior team, at home, able to down their NFC East opponents in the first of two games they will have against each other this month.
It is a question I don’t have an answer for. I am leaning towards the underdog for all the right reasons, but am not inspired to bite at a point spread the books are dangling like candy on a stick.