The National Football League will present a pair of Monday Night Football games this evening on opposite sides of the eastern seaboard. The New York Giants are hosting the Green Bay Packers and the Miami Dolphins are at home to battle the Tennessee Titans.
The wagering public has no trouble picking both these two games, they like the favorites. If there are eight bettors at the window getting down on the Giants home game, seven of them are taking the Packers and laying the points. If the crowd reaches 19 people wagering on the game at Hard Rock Stadium tonight, 17 of them are there to get down on the Dolphins.
That is too much public action on the favorites to have me jump on their side with any confidence, leaving me much more interested in taking a longer look at the underdogs to see if there is viability for a play on the Giants or Titans.
The wise guys think so.
They are taking the Giants tonight.
I suspect the smart money move to the Giants is driven by a key injury, it usually is, and we have it tonight with the Packers. The Packers had won only two games through October but have been on a playoff drive in recent weeks. Before their victory last Sunday night over the Kansas City Chiefs, the NBC graphic department developed an uncanny comparison between Jordan Love and Aaron Rodgers. Seems the two quarterbacks began their careers with the Packers, brace yourself, with identical statistics.
Now, whether Love can develop a career that earns a Hall of Fame first ballot honor, as Rodgers no doubt will, is yet to be seen. But in recent weeks, the Packers have won four of five games to elevate their season into playoff contention. Love is a big reason, and his primary receiver, Christian Watson, is a major factor in their success.
Last Sunday night, in the waning moments of their win over the Chiefs, Watson gained a key first down and then, as a smart player would, looked to get down in bounds to keep the clock running. The move turned disastrous, as his sudden stop reinjured the hamstring that had sidelined him early in the season during a time Green Bay was struggling.
Tonight, Green Bay is favored on the road off that emotional win last week and without the services of Watson due to his injured hamstring. That is perhaps why the wise guys like the homesteading Giants with the six points on the spread.
The loss of Watson cools me on the Pack, but doesn’t send me over to the Giants side.
The second Monday night game starts at the same time as the first, 8:15 p.m. local time. While the Packers success has been keyed more by their defense, the Dolphins first place standing in the AFC East Division is mostly attributable to an offense that seemingly starts scoring before the last notes of the National Anthem are sung.
Tua Tagovailoa’s quarterbacking and a receiving corps led by Most Valuable Player candidate Tyreek Hill, has tallied the most points in the AFC while entering this week with 384 and trailing only the 388 points scored by the Dallas Cowboys in the entire league. They do it with speed, and a coach, Mike McDaniel, that seems a step ahead of his rivals and does it with a sly smile and unassuming manner.
He isn’t Bobby Knight in demeanor, but more like your favorite history teacher in high school. While his team put up 70 points early in the season in a win over the Denver Broncos, McDaniel didn’t spend a moment celebrating the one-sided triumph but was more intense on what to do next to get better.
What the Dolphins need to do better is elevate their game against the best competition. While Miami matches the fewest losses in football this season, all their defeats have come against teams with winning records. Namely, the Buffalo Bills, Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs. All nine of their victories have come against teams with losing records when they played.
Tonight, the Dolphins host the Tennessee Titans, who are buried in the cellar in the AFC South Division with four wins against eight losses. Only once did the Dolphins get tripped up on the point spread while beating a subpar team, that was three weeks ago when as 14 point favorites against the Las Vegas Raiders they escaped with a 20-13 victory.
They are 14 point favorites tonight, and while I wouldn’t be surprised if they won and covered this game, I’m not betting on it.