New York Giants (3-8) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-10)
At first glance, as bad as the Jaguars are, this line does make sense. The Jaguars rank 30th, moving the chains at a 65.53% rate, as opposed to 73.01% for their opponents, a differential of -7.48%. However, the Giants aren’t exactly great, moving the chains at a 73.08% rate, as opposed to 74.79% for their opponents, a differential of 1.71% that ranks 21st in the NFL. That suggests that this line (2.5 or 3 depending on where you go it) is right around where it should be.
However, that doesn’t take into account that the Giants are typically cover the spread on the road in the Tom Coughlin/Eli Manning era. Since 2004, the Giants are 51-41 on the road, getting outscored by an average of 0.51 points per game, as opposed to 50-40 at home, outscoring opponents by an average of 2.64 points per game. The Giants seem to only be marginally better at home (about 3 points), but the odds makers have never really caught on to that. As a result, they are 55-37 ATS on the road over that time period, including 14-7 ATS as non-divisional road underdogs, as they are here.
The Jaguars, meanwhile, are in a bad spot with the Texans coming to town next. Non-divisional home underdogs are 33-53 ATS since 1989 before being divisional home underdogs. On top of that, teams are 57-89 ATS before being 3+ point home underdogs since 2012. That’s because when you have a game coming up like that it generally means one of two things. One, you have a very tough, important game coming up. Two, you really aren’t that good of a football team. Here, I think it’s both. The Jaguars are a bad team and could easily be distracted by a divisional opponent coming to town next week and overlook this random non-conference opponent.
The only reason this isn’t a higher confidence pick is that the public is all over the Giants at an alarming rate. I hate siding with heavy publicly backed sides because the odds makers always make money in the long run. The public doesn’t see how the Giants could not win by 3 or more and this could very well be a trap game because it’s too good to be true. There are enough reasons for me to side with the public with this one, but I’m worried I’m missing something. This is a medium confidence pick at 2.5 and a low confidence pick at 3.
New York Giants 24 Jacksonville Jaguars 17
Pick against spread: NY Giants -2.5