Thursday Night Football Preview (Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants)
Opening line: Eagles, -2.5
Thursday Night Football finds itself in alien territory in 2018. For the first time since its inception, TNF finally offers enticing matchups nearly every single week, no longer relegating the week’s least interesting games to the league’s newest night of football. The kickoff game for Week 6 fixes to continue this trend - an enticing battle between heated division rivals as the defending World Champion Eagles from Philadelphia visit the New York Football Giants. Both teams come in with the ghosts of heartbreaking two-point losses last week to the Panthers and Vikings, respectively.
The Eagles have dominated the last half decade, going 8-2 straight-up versus the Giants in that span, including 6-4 against the spread. However, they just lost their RB1 Jay Ajayi for the season with no real replacement, and last year’s championship defense is middle of the pack this year. Third year QB1 Carson Wentz, back from an ACL tear, has been slow to regain his pre-injury form of 2017 when he was a heavy MVP favorite for much of the season.
The year hasn’t started off any better for Eli Manning and his Giants, whose offense is off to a disappointing start after drafting running back/Combine phenom Saquon Barkley second overall in this year’s draft. Not to mention the return of Odell Beckham Jr, who missed all but four games in 2017 but is still one of the most dynamic wide receivers in all of football. They’ve been so hit and miss this year that the team’s longest pass of the season, caught by Barkley, was thrown by… Odell Beckham Jr. Yikes.
So, what happens when two underperforming teams, who just happen to be decades-long rivals and neighbors, square off on a Thursday night at the Meadowlands? You get a hard fought battle between two teams who don’t like each other, and a final score that promises to make the -2.5 point spread in favor of the visiting World Champs as close as you expect it to be.
Moneyline Pick - Philadelphia Eagles
ATS Pick - New York Giants
Underdog of the Week Preview (Indianapolis Colts at New York Jets)
Opening line: Jets, -2.5
There’s a certain beauty about being an underdog in football. Many teams ride the “disrespect” train all the way to a Championship (see: 2017 Eagles), while others live up to the negative hype by being absolutely dreadful at playing the sport (see: 1999-2017 Browns). Other teams are just riding a streak of bad luck, bad coaching, injuries, or some combination of all three.
Enter the 2018 Colts. A first-time head coach still finding his legs, a quarterback who until recently hadn’t thrown a standard football in nearly two years, and a defense that hasn’t played all that well in, well, a long time. All said, the Colts are ever so slightly better than their 1-4 record suggests. Despite a few rookie mistakes Frank Reich is still a rising star in the head coaching ranks. Andrew Luck’s mysterious shoulder has getting stronger every week and he continues to take his shots downfield (with or without TY Hilton). And that defense, if you remove Tom Brady’s manhandling from last week, is sneaky strong against the pass.
Sounds like a recipe for success against rookie QB Sam Darnold who, like Indy’s rookie coach, will be juuust fine. His first five games have been great, dud, dud, dud, and really good. It’s still too early in his career to expect any kind of consistency. Good thing he has some help on the offensive side of the ball. Wide receiver Robby Anderson went off for 123 yards on only three catches last week, and Isaiah Crowell transformed himself into 2012 Adrian Peterson by rushing for a Jets franchise record 219 yards (!!!).
Despite the strong showing by Darnold and company, you can typically count on rookie quarterbacks to play like rookie quarterbacks. Expect the Colts D to rebound and make life miserable for the league’s youngest quarterback. And for Andrew Luck to continue improving against the Jets on the road and easily cover.
Moneyline Pick - Indianapolis Colts
ATS Pick - Indianapolis Colts
Uninformed Pick of the Week (Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans)
Disclaimer: The Uninformed Pick of the Week is a for-fun take on one matchup from the NFL schedule where a winner is chosen based on illogical reasoning. Bet wisely!
Opening line: Ravens, -2
Ahh, what a game this should be. Two of the NFL’s best defenses going up against two of the NFL’s worst offenses. Football fans, prepare yourselves for a real barnburner. That is, a burning barn would be far more exciting than a game that has all the makings of a 9-6 final score. Does it really matter who wins?!
If you’re reading a betting preview, then yes, it probably does matter who wins what should go down as the least watched and most boring game of the year (Editor’s note: the writer is clearly not a fan of old school defensive battles and opinions expressed here do not necessarily mirror those of BookiePro. However, in this case, opinions do happen to mirror those of BookiePro.)
Football purists - AKA the old guard, AKA your grandparents’ slightly older friends - will liken this matchup, from start to finish, as “the way football used to be,” which loosely translates to “the way football should still be.” The quarterbacks will throw for under 350 yards combined on a day when no fewer than eight other QBs will match that total on their own. What a time to be alive.
When neither team can push the ball down the field it becomes a matchup between the kickers. On one side of the ball you have Justin Tucker, the most accurate kicker in NFL history and somehow the best and most entertaining player on his own team. When your kicker is your best offensive player, you have problems. On the other side you have former Mr. Irrelevant, Mr. Ryan Succop. A decent kicker in his own right, but one that was barely even drafted back in 2009. For those of you who don’t know, the Mr. Irrelevant “honor” is bestowed upon the final pick of any given draft class.
Expect Tucker’s Ravens to be one field goal better than Succop’s Titans. And since we don’t expect anyone else to actually watch the game, we’ll check the boxscore together when the clock hits 00:00 on Sunday.
Moneyline Pick - Baltimore Ravens
ATS Pick - Baltimore Ravens