Thursday Night Football best bets: 49ers big favorites over Giants
Last week's Thursday nighter showcased the importance of getting the best of the number. Early Vikings bettors cashed with +7.5 to +6.5, while anyone backing the Eagles on Thursday pushed at the very least.
This week, the betting line should reflect that the Giants will be without their biggest star, Saquon Barkley. Not to disparage New York's come-from-behind win Sunday, but the market thinks the team has a similar win probability against the 49ers as its namesake in the 1994 youth football story "Little Giants."
'You always run the ball! Why can't I run the ball?!'
Look for the line to go back up to +10.5 or higher with Barkley officially out. While the 49ers are highly likely to win, there's a scenario where they play this game more conservatively. Kyle Shanahan has mentioned that Christian McCaffrey's usage has been too high through two weeks, with him receiving 85% and 100% of the snaps, respectively. On a short week against a defense that's struggled to start the year, look for Elijah Mitchell to spell McCaffrey and the offense to be less explosive but still sustain possessions.
Fewer possessions overall should keep the Giants in touch even if they never threaten to win, and Sunday's game showed us they have the capability and will to make adjustments even when all hope looks lost. So, a backdoor cover is in play as well.
Pick: Giants (+10.5)
'Not fun anymore. All the fun is gone now. See now, it's war!'
Speaking of adjustments, 60-0 will make you try something different. The Giants went into YOLO mode down 20-0 at halftime in Arizona a week after losing 40-0. They didn't really have any choice.
New York put the ball in Daniel Jones' hands. He excelled in the Giants' comeback, completing 17 of 21 passes for 259 yards and accounting for three touchdowns.
Without Barkley, the Giants should go into a pass-heavy mode early and often. Also, the 49ers' defense can be beaten deep. Jalin Hyatt caught passes of 58 and 31 yards against the Cardinals, providing the deep target that could provide a chunk of yardage for Jones.
Pick: Daniel Jones over 215.5 passing yards (-115)
'When you mess with Spike, you mess with death'
Deebo Samuel is the 49ers' version of Spike: everyone knows he's getting the ball, and he can beat you with a combination of speed and power. Unlike the "Little Giants," the big Giants don't have Rick Moranis there to know what play the opponent will run near the goal line, nor do they have the "Icebox" there to stare him down.
Much has been said about Samuel being in even better shape than last year. That should be reflected in his ability to bully his way in for a score once the Niners reach the red zone. The Giants were vulnerable over the middle to the Cardinals, who used their tight ends to move the ball down the field. Look for San Francisco to use Samuel in the soft middle of New York's defense, where it'll be up to its secondary to try to mess with him in the open field.
Pick: Deebo Samuel anytime touchdown (+115)
Matt Russell is the lead betting analyst for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on social media @mrussauthentic.
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