Monday Night Football Picks: New York Giants at Atlanta Falcons
I don't take vacations during football season, but if I had this would have been the week to do it because Doc's wouldn't have much missed me in regards to previewing the two weeknight games in the NFL. Thursday gave us the 2-4 Denver Broncos at 1-5 Arizona Cardinals. Uh, no thanks.
Monday night isn't much better as the 1-5 New York Giants visit the 2-4 Atlanta Falcons - playing in Mercedes-Benz Stadium is as close as these two teams will get to this season's Super Bowl.
Every season at least once I wish the NFL could "flex" the Monday night schedule as it can Sunday nights, but I realize that's never going to happen because there's a lot involved to change a full day for a team's schedule compared to just moving a game from 1 p.m. ET to 8:20 ET on a Sunday. Things aren't going to get much better on MNF until the mega-showdown between the Chiefs and Rams on Nov. 19. Here are your next three Monday games: Patriots at Bills (Buffalo is unwatchable offensively), Titans at Cowboys (Tennessee is unwatchable offensively) and Giants at 49ers (hmm, maybe that's the vacation week; it might be the worst-rated MNF game in years).
That said, sometimes you can really profit off the worst matchups on paper, and, sometimes, they turn out to be wildly entertaining games.
Giants at Falcons Betting Story Lines
While these teams aren't going anywhere in 2018, that doesn't mean they aren't fun to watch at times. The Falcons aren't quite at their 2016 record-setting offensive level, but they are pretty high-flying behind Matt Ryan, who is having a huge season. The 2016 NFL MVP is among league leaders in yards (1,955), touchdowns (14), completion percentage (69.6) and rating (113.6).
Ryan has one of the best receiving groups in the NFL in Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu and Calvin Ridley, who could finish second in the NFL Rookie of the Year race to the Giants' Saquon Barkley. The reason the Falcons stink is because their defense allows 417.5 yards and 32.0 points per game, both only better than Tampa Bay.
Injuries have wrecked that side of the ball for Atlanta, and the offensive line isn't 100 percent. In a surprise move, starting running back Devonta Freeman (groin) was placed on IR this week, so his season might be over (theoretically can return after eight games, but if Falcons are cooked by then, what's the point?). Some believe the team might cut Freeman loose after the season because he's high-priced and starting to break down. Plus, the Falcons have the very good Tevin Coleman and a solid rookie in Ito Smith. Both Ridley and Sanu left last Sunday's win over the Bucs with injuries, and it's not clear yet if they play. Shoot, even kicker Matt Bryant, one of the NFL's best, got hurt in that one. Giorgio Tavecchio has been signed to take his place for however long.
The Giants are really fun to watch whenever Barkley or Odell Beckham Jr. get the ball … but that's it. Barkley had a career-high 229 scrimmage yards (130 rushing, 99 receiving) in last Thursday's home blowout loss to the Eagles. With 100 more scrimmage yards on Monday, Barkley would join the Chiefs' Kareem Hunt (2017) as the only players in league history with at least 100 scrimmage yards in seven consecutive games to begin their career. The rookie record for most consecutive games with at least 100 yards overall is Eric Dickerson with 10 with the 1983 Rams. Hunt's streak end at seven last year.
New York's offensive struggles (19.5 ppg) all come down to Eli Manning and what is truly a terrible O-Line. I'm not sure it would matter if Manning had five All-Pros ahead of him at this point. He might get back tight end Evan Engram this week, a good receiver. He was hurt in Week 3 vs. the Texans. Engram showed what he can do in Week 2 loss at Dallas with seven catches for 67 yards and a TD. No. 3 WR Cody Latimer was placed on IR this week.
It's the first meeting between the teams since 2015.
Giants at Falcons Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , Atlanta is a 5.5-point favorite (-110) with a total of 54.5. On the moneyline, the Falcons are -250 and Giants +210. On the alternate line, the Dirty Birds are -5 (-115) and -6 (-102). New York is 2-4 against the spread (2-1 on road) and 3-3 "over/under" (2-1 on road). Atlanta is 2-4 ATS (2-2 at home) and 5-1 O/U (4-0 at home).
The Giants are 3-7 ATS in their past 10 vs. teams with losing records. They are 2-5 ATS in their past seven on Monday. The Falcons have covered five of their past six on MNF. They are 1-7 ATS in their past eight in October. The under is 9-4 in the Giants' past 13. The over is 11-1-1 in Atlanta's previous 13 vs. teams with a losing record. The under is 9-1-1 in the past 11 meetings.
Giants at Falcons Betting Prediction
I was very sold on the Falcons, but now I'm a tad concerned with Freeman out and Ridley and Sanu iffy. And their defense is truly awful. However, Ryan is 10 times better than Manning, and New York's defense isn't very good, either.
Go Falcons at -5 and over the total.
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