Hard to believe we already are on the final Thursday night game of the year. I've always said these games tend to favor the home teams with the quick turnaround and the home clubs are 9-4 in the 13 TNF games in 2016 (technically the Week 1 season opener and Thanksgiving night game aren't part of the official TNF package).
That the Philadelphia Eagles (5-9) are part of this week's game is perfect timing in a way because it should teach fans and NFL bettors one big lesson about any season: don't get carried away with what happens in September. I mean, the Los Angeles Rams won three of their first four games this season and now look like the NFL's worst team not named Browns or 49ers. The Minnesota Vikings were perfect in the first month, now they are .500 and likely to miss the playoffs.
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Of course the Eagles traded starting QB Sam Bradford to Minnesota less than two weeks before the season began and threw rookie No. 2 overall pick Carson Wentz right into the fire. He looked like some sort of Dan Marino/Andrew Luck combination the first three weeks as the Eagles dominated the Browns, Bears and Steelers by a combined score of 92-27. Wentz had a 103.8 rating through three games. Alas, the Eagles have just two wins since and Wentz has really struggled. He has thrown eight TDs to 13 picks with a rating of 72.6 since that's 31st in the NFL (hey, at least it's better than No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff's number). Still, I think the Eagles would make that big trade with the Browns for the No. 2 overall spot in the 2016 draft again. I'm sure the Cleveland brass is thrilled that Philly has fallen off a cliff, though, as the Browns get the Eagles' 2017 first-round pick and thus should have two in the Top 10.
So while this game means nothing whatsoever for the Eagles other than a chance to play spoiler, New York (10-4) would officially clinch a playoff berth with a victory or tie. The Giants are most likely going to be the NFC's top wild-card team and, if the playoffs started today, would travel to NFC North-leading Detroit in that round. But if the Giants win here and next week in Washington, and Dallas loses Monday night at home to the Lions and then Week 17 in Philly, then New York is your NFC East champion and No. 1 overall seed thanks to the season sweep of the Cowboys (still their only two losses). Big Blue hasn't made the playoffs since 2011.
Giants at Eagles Betting Story Lines
I previewed the Giants' home finale vs. Detroit in Week 15 here at Doc's and recommended New York -4.5 and the under 41.5. That worked out nicely as the Giants won 17-6, yet another terrific defensive effort for coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's massively improved unit. He deserves a few interviews for head coaching gigs this offseason. The Giants kept the Lions out of the end zone in three red-zone possessions and forced two turnovers. Thanks to a huge free-agent spending spree on that side of the ball, the Giants are allowing an average of only 17.9 points per game compared to 27.6 last when the Giants allowed a league-worst 442 points, the second-worst mark in franchise history.
Landon Collins continues to make a case for Defensive Player of the Year. He is the first NFL safety since Rodney Harrison in 2000 to record at least 100 tackles (108), five interceptions and three sacks in a single season. Defensive end Olivier Vernon (8.5 sacks) and cornerback Janoris Jenkins were two of those high-priced free agents and both have lived up to their contracts. Jenkins had to leave the Lions game with what the Giants feared were serious internal injuries, but he apparently avoided anything like that. Jenkins might not be able to go here.
The Eagles nearly upset the playoff-hopeful Ravens in Baltimore on Sunday. That game looked over with the Ravens leading 27-17 with just over six minutes left and deep in Eagles territory. But Joe Flacco threw a terrible pick to change momentum. Philly got within a TD on a Caleb Sturgis 29-yard field goal with 2:22 to go and then stopped the Ravens. Wentz led a good-looking two-minute offense down the field, culminating in his 4-yard TD run with four seconds to go. First-year coach Doug Pederson made the interesting decision to try for 2 and the win. It failed. He is catching a lot of heat for that, but I love it. Not like the Eagles are playing for anything. Pederson said his team was an underdog as it was and had less than a 50 percent chance of winning, also referencing how good Ravens kicker Justin Tucker is. "I think you ask anybody in this locker room, everybody's going to tell you they loved it," added linebacker Jordan Hicks of Pederson's aggressiveness.
Philadelphia will get back two key guys here in excellent pass-catching running back Darren Sproles and Pro Bowl right tackle Lane Johnson. The former was out last week with a concussion and the latter comes off a 10-game suspension for PED use. On Sunday against the Ravens, the Eagles were playing with their fifth different right tackle this season so Johnson is a big addition.
Giants at Eagles Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , New York is a 2.5-point favorite (-110) with a total of 41.5. On the moneyline, the Giants are -135 and Eagles +115. On the alternate lines the Giants are -4.5 (+155), -4 (+148), -3.5 (+140), -3 (+115), -2 (-115), -1.5 (-120) and -1 (-128). New York is 8-5-1 against the spread (3-2-1 on the road) and 3-11 "over/under" (0-6 on road). Philadelphia is 6-8 ATS (4-2 at home) and 8-6 O.U (1-5 at home).
The Giants are 4-0 ATS in their past four on Thursday. They are 9-4 ATS in their past 13 December games. The Eagles are 1-4 ATS in their past five on Thursday. They are 0-4 ATS in their past four vs. the NFC East. The under is 6-0 in New York's past six games. The over is 7-0 in the Eagles' past seven vs. the NFC East. The favorite is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The under is 6-0 in the past six in Philly.
Giants at Eagles Betting Prediction
Philadelphia lost at the Giants 28-23 in Week 9. Manning threw for four scores. Wentz had 364 yards, but it took him 47 attempts and he was picked off twice without a TD. The Eagles had first-and-10 at the Giants 17 in the final minute but then Wentz had four straight incompletions.
I definitely need a reason to take a road club to win outright in a Thursday game, but simple motivation is reason enough here. The Eagles generally have been much better at home, and I don't trust that New York offense to do much here, however. The weather will be low 30s but no precipitation. Give the 2.5 points (I wouldn't give any more than that) and go under the total.
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