Running backs star in best bets for rare 2-game MNF slate
We could spend the next few minutes trying to figure out why two games are scheduled - with kickoffs at the exact same time - on Monday Night Football, or we could keep our questions to ourselves and dig into the best bets for our two-screen experience of Packers-Giants and Titans-Dolphins.
It remains to be seen what heights the Packers can reach now that things seem to have finally clicked for Jordan Love. A very manageable schedule means the Cheeseheads are -215 favorites (68.3% implied probability) to make the playoffs, but the immediate concern is about their rating in the betting markets getting a little too high.
Even with preseason optimism about what the Packers could be, a regular-season win total of 7.5 suggested that their median result would be just shy of league average. Back-to-back upsets of the Lions and Chiefs on national television have Green Bay's rating as high as its been all season.
Going on the road to the Giants puts the Packers in a different role - they're required to win and cover a decent-sized point spread against a team that's been underrated in the market. After a rough debut in Dallas, Tommy DeVito and the Giants haven't just covered as underdogs - they've won outright and have had two weeks to prepare for their final prime-time home game of the season.
Christian Watson and Jaire Alexander have already been ruled out, and a handful of defenders' availability is up in the air. We're bullish on the Packers' overall future, but this line is too high.
Pick: Giants (+6)
Saquon Barkley: Longest rush over 16.5 yards
Against a Packers defense allowing 4.5 yards per carry, Barkley can be a factor on the ground; his yardage total has been bet up from 67.5 to 71.5 over the weekend. He recorded 19-plus yards in five straight games but didn't top this total in two of those. We'll thus bet that Barkley gets a sizable chunk of those 71.5 yards on one carry.
Dontayvion Wicks: Anytime TD (+325, 0.8 units)
Malik Heath: Anytime TD (+1000, 0.2 units)
We already know that Love spreads it around to his numerous young receivers, so with Watson sidelined, we'll split a unit across two pass-catchers whose snaps should rise.
Wicks' three highest snap percentages came when Watson was out, while rookie Heath went from no catches on four targets in the first 10 weeks to six catches on seven targets in his last three games.
A team with a veteran coach is rated in the bottom quarter of the league before the season. It starts 3-4, with a young quarterback showing flashes of brilliance. As hope builds for a surprise playoff appearance, the ownership rubber-stamps a deal that removes a defensive presence on a unit struggling to stop teams through the air. Losses start to pile up, and the season's low point comes in a blowout to the Dolphins.
Up until that last point, the previous paragraph could be describing the Commanders or the Titans.
Tennessee allows the sixth-most yards per pass attempt. The Titans now face the Dolphins' quick-strike offense a week after having their season effectively ended thanks to numerous special teams gaffes and coverage breakdowns on defense. To make matters worse, their best player, Jeffery Simmons, and top corner, Kristian Fulton, are out. If Miami scores 38 points at home, are you convinced Tennessee can do better than 24 of their own?
Pick: Dolphins (-13.5)
De'Von Achane: Over 2.5 receptions (+120)
Including his Week 3 explosion onto the scene in the Dolphins' blowout win over the Broncos, Achane has caught at least three passes in all three games he hasn't been hurt in, including a trio in a healthy return last week.
Raheem Mostert: Anytime TD (+110)
Quick: Who leads the NFL in rushing touchdowns? Christian McCaffrey is most football fans' answer, but it's actually Mostert - who also has a pair of receiving touchdowns on his ledger. Achane's return and all of Miami's options might be what's giving us a plus-money price on Mostert to score, but there should be plenty to go around Monday night.
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.