Rodney Dangerfield has been dead more than 18 years, and we as a society still haven’t come up with an updated reference for someone or something getting no respect. But I have to take a stand, as an alleged professional sportswriter. I refuse, in 2022, to be so lazy and cliched as to call the New York Giants the Rodney Dangerfield of the NFL.
But seriously, bookmakers: What do the Giants have to do to start getting some respect from you people?
Here’s what I wrote in the bottom section of this column last week, as the G-Men prepared to host the Houston Texans:
“The sportsbooks sure don’t believe in the Giants, huh? They’re 6-2 and they’re at home coming off their bye, and they’re only giving 7 points against a 1-6-1 team? Granted, Daniel Jones and company are one of the worst 6-2 teams we’ve ever seen, but this line against the Texans is stunningly disrespectful.”
How naïve I was last Monday, thinking a 7-point spread was disrespectful. The line kept closing all week, and at some sportsbooks, it got as low as Giants -4.5 at kickoff.
Really?! That many people were hammering the hapless Texans on the road?
Nope. They weren’t. At PointsBet, where the spread opened at 6.5, it closed at 5, but the book reported that 77% of all spread bets and 60% of all spread dollars were on the Giants. At DraftKings, the Giants drew 75% of the bets and 79% of the money. At Caesars, where the line moved over the course of the week from 6.5 to 4.5, 80% of the tickets were on New York (though, interestingly, 59% of the money was on Houston).
I can’t explain the line movement. I can tell you that at any of the possible lines, the Giants proved the winning side. They prevailed by 8 points, 24-16, and that was after an inconsequential field goal by the Texans with seven seconds remaining backdoored the Giants out of a double-digit victory.
With that win and cover, the Giants are now 7-2 and have covered in every single game they’ve won. Their only two ATS losses came in the two games they actually lost on the scoreboard. But whenever they win, they cover — in part because these point spreads keep selling them inexplicably short.
As for this week … well, speaking of Giants, I’ll let the character known only as “The Giant” from the second season of Twin Peaks tell you what’s going on:
The 7-2 Giants are the home team against the 3-6 Detroit Lions, a team that reached deep into the recesses of its collective rectum against the Bears on Sunday to avoid falling to 2-7, and the Giants are favored by 3.5 measly points. The sportsbooks are declaring that, if they were on a neutral field, we’d have this 7-2 team and this 3-6 team and we’d barely be able to tell the difference between them.
(There’s another pattern of note with the Giants, on top of the “when they win, they cover” correlation. Win or lose, they’re a damned good bet to go under. Their games are 7-1-1 to the under this season, having stayed 1 point below the line of 41 against Houston on Sunday. With the Lions known to get into a shootout from time to time, the total for the Week 11 game at MetLife stadium is 46 or 46.5, depending on the book.)
Look, the 2022 New York Giants are nobody’s idea of a great team. ESPN’s Seth Walder broke all the teams into tiers based on their chances of making the playoffs, and the Giants landed in the third tier, labeled, “Likely, but no promises.” That’s fair. Even at 7-2, they haven’t proven they’re a Super Bowl contender. Tier 3 is where they belong. It just happens to be four tiers above the Lions and the Texans, their near-equals according to the folks who set the lines.
Grab a handful of your necktie, stretch it out, wiggle it from side to side, and say it with me: The Giants can’t get no respect. Apparently there’s no such thing as home-field advantage when you’ve been slapped with the Dangerfield disadvantage.
Let’s take a look at the rest of the opening lines and assorted betting odds and ends for Week 11.
The consensus lines
Most lines vary by half a point in either direction, with slightly different vigs from book to book, so it’s always advisable to price-shop at all the available mobile sportsbooks in your state. But here are the consensus (most commonly found) spreads for each of the 14 games in Week 11 (the Seahawks and the three Florida teams — Dolphins, Buccaneers, and Jaguars — all have byes):
Titans at Packers (-2.5)
Bears at Falcons (-3)
Browns at Bills (-9)
Eagles (-9) at Colts
Jets at Patriots (-3.5)
Rams at Saints (-3)
Lions at Giants (-3.5)
Panthers at Ravens (-12.5)
Commanders (-2.5) at Texans
Raiders at Broncos (-3)
Cowboys (-2) at Vikings
Bengals (-5) at Steelers
Chiefs (-7) at Chargers
49ers (-7.5) vs. Cardinals in Mexico City
Line move to watch
If there’s a line on the board even more head-scratching than Giants-Lions, it’s the 8-1 Vikings being underdogs at home against the Cowboys. But we don’t imagine that line will move much, if at all. Dallas is a perpetual public team, and the sportsbooks know the bettors are just waiting for the moment the Minnesota magic begins to peter out.
The line that has the greatest chance of moving multiple points is that Monday night Mexico City line between the NFC West rivals — the Niners and Cards. Arizona’s QB may be Kyler Murray. Or it may be Colt McCoy. Or it may even be Trace McSorley. Have a peek at the point spread next Monday afternoon, and you’ll probably be able to guess which QB it is.
Intriguing moneyline underdogs to consider
The gold medal underdog pick finally lost last week, to drop to 7-2 on the season. I’d like to think I subconsciously wanted it to lose, wanted to get out of the pressure cooker, and that’s why I tossed a dart on the +385 Jags in Kansas City rather than playing it safe with a short ‘dog. Or maybe, as an Eagles fan, I was just too emotionally involved to bet that game prudently. Wagering on a game between Andy Reid’s team and Doug Pederson’s team was like trying to pick between my first ex-stepfather and my second ex-stepfather. Or something like that. (I never had any stepfathers, I’m probably out of my element with this attempted analogy.)
Bottom line, I took an “L.” But I still did go 1-for-3 thanks to Lions beating Bears, so, I’m moving the goal posts and bragging that I haven’t had an 0-for-3 column yet this season picking ‘dogs. Now let’s put that streak at risk:
Bronze medal: Titans +130 (DraftKings) at Packers. Yeah, Green Bay showed signs of life against Dallas on Sunday, and maybe Aaron Rodgers and Christian Watson have found a connection. But Tennessee has just kept getting it done all season, with minimal drama. Just like they did all last season. They’re consistent. They’re extremely well coached. They’re the kind of team that rolls into Lambeau on a Thursday night and quietly, professionally slams the door on this Packers squad.
Silver medal: Lions +165 (PointsBet) at Giants. Remember those 700 words or so at the top of the column about the Giants getting no respect? Well, I can both identify the problem and contribute to it. Remember, either they cover the spread or they lose outright. And this young Lions team is just unpredictable enough to put the latter outcome in play.
Gold medal: Steelers +185 (multiple sportsbooks) vs. Bengals. T.J. Watt is back, he’s a difference-maker on this defense, and at 3-6, Pittsburgh still has something to play for — including Mike Tomlin’s 15-year streak of never coaching the Steelers to a losing record. They’re home, the Bengals are still missing Ja’Marr Chase, and Cincy is 0-3 this year in AFC North games, including a Week 1 loss to the Steelers. At +185, there’s a little too much meat on this moneyline bone not to take a shot.
Textbook teaser candidates
Fans of the three-team (or more) teaser know what to look for: favorites of 6 or more who become very safe bets if you reduce the spread by about a touchdown. Here are this week’s options that fit the bill:
Bills: Can tease down to -3 or -2 at home against the Browns.
Eagles: Can tease down to -3 or -2 on the road against the Colts.
Ravens: Can tease down to -6.5 or -5.5 at home against the Panthers.
Chiefs: Can tease down to -1 or pick’em on the road against the no-home-field-advantage Chargers.
49ers: Can tease down to -1.5 or -0.5 as the alleged road team in Mexico against the Cardinals.
Pick three (or more), pick 6 points or 7 (or 6.5), and let the sweating of a +140 or so return begin. But here’s the thing: The football gods have been trying all season to tell us not to tease. My new co-host on the Gamble On podcast, Jeff Edelstein, thought he was playing it safe with a couple of simple two-team teasers he recommended on last week’s episode, and they each went 1-for-2, which means his bets went 0-for-2. The football gods are speaking. They’re yelling, in fact. Let’s listen to them.
Just kidding. What fun would that be? One unit on Eagles/Ravens/Niners, please.
One major impact of the Bills’ shocking collapse against the Vikings in Sunday’s chaotic classic: Josh Allen, who can’t seem to stop turning the ball over in assorted end zones in critical late-game situations, saw his MVP odds spike. The clear favorite for the award two weeks ago, Allen is now as high as +600 at Kambi sportsbooks such as Barstool and BetRivers, trailing Patrick Mahomes (+150 at the Kambi books) and Jalen Hurts (+375 at BetMGM). On the one hand, if Allen’s injured elbow is indeed hampering him, his slide down the odds board could continue. On the other hand, there’s still nearly half a season to play, and it’s how you finish that matters most. There’s a decent chance Hurts and Mahomes each hit a little rough patch somewhere along the way. If Allen’s health isn’t a serious concern, maybe now is the perfect time to buy low on him.
Offensive Player of the Year is another awards odds market that got tipped sideways by the insanity in Orchard Park. Justin Jefferson, he of the two-handed catch that only involved one of his hands, is now the favorite at FanDuel at +250, leading Miami’s Tyreek Hill (+400). Through 10 games, Hill has 81 catches for 1,148 yards and 4 TDs. Through nine games, Jefferson has 69-1060-4. If the numbers finish close, the oddsmakers seem to expect that the memorable moment to top all memorable moments will factor heavily in voters’ minds.
The Dolphins now hold a half-game lead over the Bills in the AFC East, plus they’re 1-0 against Buffalo head-to-head, but Miami is +250 to win the division at DraftKings and FOX Bet. Again, if you’re not so sure Josh Allen is going to be Josh Allen the rest of the way, and you’re reminding yourself that the Fish have yet to lose a game this season that was started and finished by Tua Tagovailoa, it’s a juicy proposition.
Photo: Brad Penner/USA TODAY