A simple Google search provides ample results on why first impressions are nearly impossible to change. Sunday’s NFL card highlights this concept with the 5-1 New York Giants as three-point underdogs to the 2-4 Jacksonville Jaguars.
Power ratings of oddsmakers and respected bettors dictate the betting market. They calculate those ratings based on this year’s in-season results and last year’s statistics to provide an evergreen baseline.
My personal pushback is that New York has a staff that certainly seems much more competent under head coach Brian Daboll. After all, we have yet to witness a QB sneak on third-and-9 from their own 4-yard line — a play that will forever embody the Joe Judge era. I personally think we need to disregard our preconceived notions and consider the Giants only through the lens of this year’s results. I would characterize myself as a believer but doubters certainly remain.
“They have been lucky,” SuperBook head NFL oddsmaker Ed Salmons told ESPN, speaking to the Giants’ league-high five comeback wins, including three from double-digit deficits. “The Giants are what they are. Jacksonville is a better team. Look at point differential.”
The numbers you need to know
New York Giants at Jacksonville Jaguars (-3)
Sunday, 1:05 p.m. ET, TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville, Fla.
A team simply needs to outscore its opponent to win a game. The one-loss Giants only have a total point differential of plus-14, which is more consistent with a .500 team. However, is that a fair critic in a league known for parity? Isn’t winning hard enough and shouldn’t narrow wins mean execution and poise?
The 2-4 Jaguars have a point differential of plus-24. One could argue their numbers are skewed from manhandling the inept Indianapolis Colts and beating up the Chargers with a hobbled Justin Herbert. After all, Jacksonville still lost to Houston and Washington.
“I made [the spread] four myself but the [team of traders] talked me down,” Caesars Sportsbook vice president of trading Craig Mucklow told ESPN. “They got a last-second touchdown and 2-point conversion against Tennessee, beat Carolina and Chicago and then beat a first-half Ravens team.”
A main key to New York’s success is its red zone defensive efficiency. The Giants have the fifth-best red zone defense this season, only allowing a touchdown on 40% of red zone opportunities. About half of the teams that ranked in the top 10 in that category over the past few seasons have reached the playoffs.
Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells famously said, “You are what your record says you are.” That is true for the standings, but the betting numbers matter so much more in this world.
Line move of the week
New York Jets (-1.5) at Denver Broncos
Sunday, 1:05 p.m. ET, Empower Field at Mile High, Denver
Doug Kezirian considers the Jets performance so far this season, and doesn’t think the Broncos have what it takes to win.
Oddsmakers posted a point spread all week, even though Russell Wilson’s status remained unclear. Often bookmakers will hang a line in between the odds for each scenario and just let the betting take shape. They prefer that approach to waiting until a final decision is announced. Since they take action on both sides and everyone has the same uncertainty, there is no reason for them to shy away from taking action.
If Wilson were perfectly healthy, Denver would have been a three-point home favorite. Yes, like the Giants, the 4-2 Jets have yet to command respect from the betting market. Instead, Denver was about a one-point favorite throughout the week and when the Broncos announced Brett Rypien would start, the Jets became the betting favorite.
Game of the Week
Kansas City Chiefs (-1) at San Francisco 49ers
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, Calif.
The Chiefs find themselves in another high-profile game after losing at home last Sunday to the Buffalo Bills. Kansas City has carried a bull’s-eye on its back since Patrick Mahomes burst on to the scene and earned MVP honors in 2018. The Chiefs get everyone’s best shot and that is why I am backing San Francisco.
The 49ers can be tricky to handicap but they typically respond well to adversity. Kyle Shanahan has covered five straight games following a loss. Also, the team acquired Christian McCaffrey in a trade this week and get Joey Bosa back from injury. They’re tied for first place in the division and I expect a big effort at home. It’s always difficult to fade Mahomes when he’s such a short favorite but the situational spot favors the Niners. I question how much the Chiefs have left in the tank and definitely have questions about their defense.
Pick: 49ers (+1)
As is always the case, the professional bettors influence the market. If they bet a game, the line will move. So, the numbers they grab are usually long gone. However, sometimes the market returns. There are just so many factors that come into play. But even if their numbers are still available, there could be opportunity to bet during the game or just file it away in the back of your mind.
From a consensus standpoint, sharps have bet Lions +7, Broncos PK, Browns +6.5, 49ers +2, Steelers-Dolphins under 45 and Bears-Patriots over 39.