Monday Night Football Predictions: New York Giants at Detroit Lions Odds & Picks
by Alan Matthews - 9/5/2014
I'm sure New York Giants fans already have booked airfare and hotel rooms to the greater Phoenix area for the first weekend of February. That, of course, is where Super Bowl XLIX will be played. Fans of Big Blue are giddy because the Giants were 5-0 this preseason, the team's first unbeaten preseason since 2006. I can't tell you how little that means. Last year, for example, the Redskins were unbeaten when it didn't count and won three when it did.
Shoot, the G-Men can look at Monday's opponent for why the preseason is worthless. The 2008 Lions were a preseason juggernaut that year, outscoring foes 80-32 in going 4-0. They were the only team in the NFL without a loss. That regular season, they became the only team in the NFL without a win, getting outscored by a whopping 249 points.
It's hard to get a read on either of these teams as I could see a finish of first, last or anywhere in between. The Giants finished 7-9 last year, their worst record since Tom Coughlin's first season in 2004, and missed the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons. On Sportsbook.ag's first coach to be fired prop, Coughlin was listed at +2000. Doubt he gets fired, but I can see him retiring should New York miss the playoffs again. The Giants had a wins total of 7.5 at the site.
The Lions were also 7-9 a season ago, really gagging away their chance at their first NFC North title with Chicago's Jay Cutler and Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers each missing half the season, and, as it turned out, it taking only eight wins to claim the North. That got Jim Schwartz fired, and this will be Jim Caldwell's debut. He was far from Detroit's first choice, but a recommendation from Tony Dungy, under whom Caldwell worked with the Colts, apparently carried plenty of weight. Caldwell was 26-22 in three years as the Colts coach after Dungy, reaching the Super Bowl in the first year. The Lions had a posted wins total of 8.5.
Giants at Lions Betting Story Lines
New York QB Eli Manning was pretty awful last season, completing just 57.5 percent of his passes for 3,818 yards, 18 touchdowns and an NFL-high 27 picks. Manning never has had a great completion percentage because the Giants threw downfield a lot. That apparently will not be the case in 2014 as new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo has installed a West Coast offense (what decade is this?). McAdoo had never been a coordinator before, spending the past eight years as Green Bay's tight ends coach. That scheme means more short passing, which should boost Manning's accuracy and lower his interceptions. The team stated a goal of 70 percent completions, which is stupid. I'd take a prop that Manning doesn't complete 70 percent in a single game.
Manning didn't look great in the preseason, completing just 20 of 41 passes for 188 yards and a touchdown, although he didn't get picked off. He was sacked five times. The offensive line was a mess last year and doesn't look better. The team's top free-agent addition, guard Geoff Schwartz, is out until midseason with a dislocated right toe. The first-team offense had only two touchdowns in the preseason. New York has a new lead running back in former Raider Rashad Jennings. He did look good in the preseason, averaging 6.1 yards per carry. That's a great sign because New York was No. 29 in rushing last year. The Giants drafted LSU receiver Odell Beckham Jr. with its first-round pick, and he was projected to start but hurt his hamstring early in camp and will not play for at least a few weeks into the season.
Don't laugh, but I actually believe the Lions could lead the NFL in scoring this year. Look at the talent: quarterback Matthew Stafford, running backs Reggie Bush and Joique Bell, receivers Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate, and tight ends Brandon Pettigrew and first-round pick Eric Ebron. That's strong. It's all a matter of Stafford making good decisions -- he had 19 picks last season. BetOnline has a total points prop for every team in 2014. I lean the Lions at "over" 414.5 at +175. That averages out to almost 26 points per game.
The question is whether the defense will allow 27 per game. According to the Detroit Free Press, the Lions will still operate primarily out of an even-man front under new coordinator Teryl Austin but bring more pressure from zone blitzes and move their pass rushers all over the line. That should help free up Ndamukong Suh, whom I think is going to be a beast this year because he's playing for a huge new extension. The front seven of the Lions is fine; the secondary is another story.
These teams played Week 16 last year at Ford Field, and the Lions lost 23-20 in overtime as 9.5-point favorites. That was loss No. 3 of a season-ending four-game skid where Detroit controlled its own destiny to win the division. The defeat eliminated the Lions from the playoffs. Stafford was 25-of-42 for 222 yards but no TDs and two picks, one of which was returned 38 yards for a score to tie the game with five minutes left. Manning was 23-of-42 for 256 yards with a TD and a pick. The total was set at 47 in that one.
Giants at Lions NFL Betting Odds and Trends
At WagerWeb , Detroit is a 5.5-point favorite with a total of 47. New York was 7-9 against the spread last season (4-4 on road) and 7-9 "over/under." Detroit was one of the worst ATS teams at 6-10 (3-5 at home) and 8-8 O/U. The Lions covered just one of their final seven in 2013.
The Giants are 4-1 ATS in their past five on the road. They are 5-2 ATS in their past seven Monday night games. New York hasn't covered its past five in September. The Lions are 1-5 ATS in their past six at home. The under is 14-4 in New York's past 18 on the road. The under is 7-0 in the Lions' past seven Monday games. The over has hit in seven of the Lions' past 11 in September.
Monday Night Football Predictions: Giants at Lions Betting Picks
This line opened as short as 3.5 and is moving heavily in the Lions' direction, so I would jump on it before it gets to 7 as I do like Detroit. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if this is the highest-scoring game of Week 1, so go over.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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