Oct 082013
 

New York Giants (0-5) at Chicago Bears (3-2)

Ordinarily, Chicago would be the easy choice in this situation. The home team also usually covers on Thursday Night Football, because, on a short week, you need all the time you can get to prepare and having to travel puts you at a disadvantage. The home team is especially advantaged when they are favored and in a non-divisional matchup.

It makes sense that a better team would be more prepared for a short week and the Bears are definitely the better team here. The fact that these are non-divisional opponents is relevant because that means they are relatively unfamiliar with each other. If they were divisional opponents, it would nullify Chicago’s advantage at home, but that’s not the case. Non-divisional home favorites are 29-12 ATS on Thursday Night since 1989, including 12-1 ATS as favorites of a touchdown or more.

However, the Giants are playing with nothing to lose here and have more talent than most 0-5 teams do. They have been killed by takeaways, with a -13 turnover margin. At this pace, they will be -42 in turnovers this season, which would destroy the modern day record of -30. Basically, the Giants can cut their turnover margin in half going forward (from -2.6 per game to -1.3 per game) and still approach being all-time bad in turnovers (that would put them at -27). Things will get better in this aspect going forward. Eli Manning won’t continue throwing interceptions at a rate nearly twice his career rate (5.9% on the season, 3.3% on his career). They also won’t continue recovering just 28.6% of fumbles.

The Giants have also historically been a better road team than home team, going 50-32 ATS on the road since 2004, the start of the Tom Coughlin/Eli Manning era. They are especially good as road dogs, going 32-19 ATS in that situation in the aforementioned time frame. This team has always thrived when overlooked and when nobody believes in them and I think that’s definitely the case this week. They’re especially good as road dogs early in the season, going 17-8 ATS as road dogs before week 10 since 2004. They are generally a better first half of the second team than second half of the season team (53-24 first 8 games, 30-42 second 8 games since 2004). Clearly that’s not the case this season, but it’s still worth noting.

The Giants also have a strong trend in their favor. Since 2008, teams are 57-26 as underdogs off of a loss as favorites before being favorites. The Giants lost to home to the Eagles as favorites last week and will host the lowly Vikings. Still, I can’t take the Giants here. I’ve been burned plenty of times with them this season and things are going to be worse on a short week on the road against a superior team. Turnovers aren’t the only problem with this team. They can’t block, run the football, or stop anyone (opponents are moving the chains against them 79% of the time). They’ll get better as the season goes on, but I like the Bears here. It’s not a strong play though.

Chicago Bears 27 New York Giants 17

Pick against spread: Chicago -8

Confidence: Low

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