Oakland Raiders (3-5) at New York Giants (2-6)
One of the most powerful trends in betting is known as the six and six trend, meaning teams who finish with 6 wins or fewer are 25-69 ATS as favorites of 6 or more since 2002. There are two issues with this trend. One, it’s very rare (it only happened 7 times all last season, going 2-5 ATS). Two, it’s even rarer that a situation will come up in which you can confidently use the trend. The Eagles were 8.5 point favorites in Cleveland last year week 1 (they didn’t cover), but there was at the time there was no way to know that the Eagles would finish 6-10 or worse.
The Giants, however, sit at 2-6 and would need to go 5-3 or better in order to avoid finishing 6-10 or worse. I think we can safely put them in the six and six trend. The Giants have been playing better football of late, winning their last 2, as a result of a predictably improved turnover margin. However, turnovers aren’t their only problem. They have 145 first downs to 46 punts (3.15 to 1), while their opponents have 175 first downs to 40 punts (4.375). Besides, beating the Vikings and Eagles isn’t exactly impressive. I’m not sold they’re back.
In terms of rate of moving the chains, which factors in turnovers and fourth down failures in addition to first downs and punts, the Giants are moving the chains at a 66% rate, as opposed to 75% for their opponents. That’s a differential that ranks 30th. The Raiders, meanwhile, rank 28th, moving the chains at a 68% rate, as opposed to 74% for their opponents. That suggests that the Giants should only be favored by a point instead of 7.5. I don’t know if that’s 100% accurate, but we’re definitely getting line value with the Raiders, before we even take into account the six and six trend.
The Raiders, meanwhile, are in a good spot as non-divisional road underdogs before being non-divisional road underdogs. Teams are 89-66 ATS since 2002 in that spot and the Raiders go to Houston next week. This line has shifted from -5.5 to -7.5 in the past week after the Raiders big loss last week, shifting over the key numbers of 6 and 7. That’s significant and I think an overreaction. The Giants, meanwhile, usually don’t do well as big home favorites and don’t usually do well in the 2nd half of seasons. Since Tom Coughlin took over in 2004, they are 7-15 ATS as home favorites of 3.5 or more in week 9 or later. There’s no guarantee that will continue with the Giants off to their worst 8 game start of that time period, but it’s worth noting.
There are two reasons why this isn’t my Pick of the Week. One is that the Raiders are a West Coast team on the East Coast at 1 PM. The second is just the possibility that the Giants are about to rip off a long winning streak, as they are one to do, and prove they are not the same team they were earlier this season. However, I don’t think they will. For various reasons, including injury, they just don’t have a lot of talent. Injuries have thinned their secondary, running game, and offensive line. Their defensive line is still fine, but injuries have limited Jason Pierre-Paul to the point where he is no longer the impact player they need him to be. They are way too reliant on Eli Manning and the passing game, which is hurt by the lack of supporting cast, struggles by Hakeem Nicks, and just a general disconnect between Eli Manning and his receivers. It’s a high confidence play on the Raiders.
New York Giants 17 Oakland Raiders 16
Pick against spread: Oakland +7.5