Underdog Value for NFL Picks in Giants vs. Lions

Nikki Adams

Thursday, September 4, 2014 10:33 PM UTC

Thursday, Sep. 4, 2014 10:33 PM UTC

The Giants look to take preseason-winning form into the regular season when they descend on the Lions all while the NFL odds are stacked against them. Do the markets have it right or are the Giants the value NFL pick? 

Giants Preview
The New York Giants enjoyed a forgettable 2013 for the most part, despite riding to a 7-9 record in the second half of the season. The reality was they opened on a 0-6 record before closing the season on a 7-3 record, which took the shine of their finish (third in the NFC East).

While the Giants total defense was a respectable 8th in the league, offense hovered near bottom of the league – overall 28th with 18.4 points per game. The offseason ushered in a whole slew of changes as the organization dug deep into their pockets. At face value, with a 5-0 record in preseason, one could argue those changes are successful, and, in turn, things could be looking up for the Giants in the coming season. Preseason sceptics however aren’t convinced, earnestly arguing those results matter naught. The real deal is when it counts.


Lions Preview
Detroit Lions finished 2013 behind a 7-9 season, which included a 4-4 record at home and 3-5 record on the road. The Lions raced to a 5-3 start before a bye in week 9. After the break, they reeled off a 2-6 finish.

That the pair’s records were identical could lead many to the wrong conclusion: they are well matched. The reality is the Lions aren’t a good matchup for the Giants. Last season, the Lions ranked 16th in defense with an average of 23.5 points surrendered and offense was sixth in the league with an average of 24.7 points per game. Preseason results were promising to a certain extent with three wins in four games. However, they did lose the most important game, week 3’s dress rehearsal with Oakland Raiders 27-26; most concerning, the defeat came in a poor fourth quarter account, which harks back to their inexplicable fourth quarter collapses last season that eventually cost them a playoff berth.


Giants at Lions Betting Analysis
One take on this matchup with the Giants has been that it’s a bit of a grudge match for the Lions, as the Giants eliminated them from the playoffs 23-20 in overtime in week 16. That is the simplistic view. Reality is the Lions imploded down the stretch, losing six of their last eight games. Late fourth quarter collapses were symptomatic of their self-destruction; the Giants only hammered the last nail into their season’s coffin. The Giants meanwhile rallied valiantly to salvage whatever remnants were left of their season, not considering the postseason at all since they’d taken themselves out of the picture following a poor start.


NFL Betting Odds and Relevant Trends
New York Giants enter this clash as the significant underdogs to win straight up at +210 and the +5.5 underdogs on the spread. The Detroit Lions are the whopping -250 favourites and the -5.5 favourites on the spread.

Detroit went 4-4 SU as the home favourite with the average margin of victory at 4.8 points while New York Giants went 3-4 SU as the away underdog for a 42.9% winning ratio. Despite a largely forgettable season, the Giants went 4-3-0 against the spread as the away underdogs last season for an above 50% winning ratio. The Lions meanwhile went 3-5-0 against the spread as the home favourites for a 37.5% winning ratio with an average margin of victory at 4.8 points.


NFL Betting Verdict
Given the above NFL trends in 2013, it’s no surprise the NFL betting public is leaning towards a Lions straight up win but the Giants to cover.

Lions have home advantage, and they appear balanced on both sides of the ball. By that same token, many uncertainties prevail about the Giants’ offense and a rushing game that left much to be desired with just 83.3 yards. Those finger pointing are also pointing towards Eli Manning, claiming the quarterback is conspicuously on a decline – passer rating is down from 92.9 (2012) to 69.4 last season. Then there were the interceptions, 27 of them in all their ugliness.

Still, a 5-0 record in preseason is nothing to scoff off, regardless of how preseason rates in the minds of NFL bettors. Winning breeds confidence and that’s an intangible that can’t be quantified easily. It would be premature to dismiss the Giants out of hand in straight up betting therefore in our opinion. In fact, if Manning can keep the turnovers in check, connect with his receivers well, he could defy the odds and take the win in Detroit at their tempting +210 NFL odds.

The Giants have brought in a new west coast offense, which we’ll see in full flight against the Lions finally. We’re not entirely sold on the defensive-side of the ball as far as the Lions are concerned. They self-imploded with increasing regularity down the stretch last season. Then in the dress rehearsal game they collapsed late again, albeit with the backers in the fourth quarter. It’s the first game of the season, and defense could be shaky. Giants are 4-1 ATS in their last five road games and the road team is 6-0 ATS in the last six meetings between these two teams. Giants to cover is our free NFL pick.

Free NFL Picks: Giants to win straight up at +210; cover +5.5; Over 47

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