Week 2 of the NFL season kicks off Thursday night with a battle of NFC East teams. The New York Giants travel to Washington to take on the Football Team. It has been a very wild ride even in such a short period of time for these teams. Let’s take a deeper look into this matchup and see if we can find some value.
The first thing we need to talk about here is that Washington QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is not going to play. This line opened at Washington -4.5 and has slowly dropped down to a field goal in less than 48 hours. With Fitzpatrick under center, I would have lined this game at -3 or -3.5. Without him, I think at best you drop that to Washington -1 or -0.5 and most likely this game should be a pick ’em. That means we have value on the Giants side. The moneyline was just shy of +200 earlier in the week, but now the best number I see in the NJ betting market is +150. I am not touching the moneyline here unless the spread drops below 3. For now, I think the best way to play this is to take the field goal with the giants on the spread.
As for the total, that too is on the way down. Washington played what is considered a high-octane Chargers offense last week and held it to 20 points. The Giants’ offense is not the Chargers’. They have a weak offensive line, a banged-up running back and a young quarterback that has not proven he can lead a team at this level. The Giants struggled to score against a solid Denver defense, but the Washington defense is ranked higher in most metrics, thus making this an even tougher matchup for them. Without Fitzpatrick, Taylor Heinicke grabs the start for Washington, and you have to think they are going to go run-heavy in this one and not ask the inexperienced QB to do too much. I absolutely agree the total deserves to be low and should have gone down after the Fitzpatrick news. Would I bet on or against it here? Probably not. I would rather go with Giants +3 than touch anything with this total.
Taylor Heinicke came in for Fitzpatrick in the second quarter of their Week 1 game. Washington was trailing in the second half and for much of the fourth quarter, yet Heinicke threw just 15 passes in that game. The good news is he was accurate, completing 11 of those passes for 122 yards. The bad news is, it was only for 122 yards, including a few late game drives where they needed to throw and score. Washington is going to try to control the game here, which means we should expect a heavy dose of running and defensive field position football. Early in the game, I wouldn’t expect many passes, outside of third-down situations where they are forced to throw. It’s a short week too, so they will not have a lot of time to put in anything new or different before the Thursday game. The defense is going to be a major key to victory for them today and the offense has the job of not putting that vaunted defense in bad spots. If they can chew clock on the ground and keep that defense rested, it is probably the best path to victory. That means Heinicke is not going to be asked to sling it 35-plus times. The Football Team is likely to be playing with a lead here also, which only means even more run heavy formations. 242.5 is not a small number to ask a QB to pick up, especially given the number of things that are not positive for the passing game here.
Antonio Gibson has a really nice number on BetMGM at only 64.5 rushing yards in this game. Everywhere else this number is 68.5 or 69.5. I mentioned above how I think Washington is likely to play this game. Expect a heavy dose of Gibson running the football so Washington can control the clock. In fact, I love all the Gibson prop numbers this week. Over 15.5 carries is a bet I would take. I would also take Gibson to score a touchdown at -115. Gibson had 20 carries for 90 yards in week one and added 3 catches on 5 targets as well. He is the main weapon in this offense, and they will be leaning on him heavily with a home game on a short week with a backup QB taking over.
The price on FanDuel for Sterling Shepard to get into the end zone feels like a misprint. This number is +200 on PointsBet and only +190 on BetMGM. That is implying a 33-34% chance he finds the end zone, which is in line with our expectation for him at around 0.35 touchdowns. At the +290 price, that implies only a 25.6% chance he scores. That number feels way too low. Sheppard led the team in targets with 9 in the first game and ended up with a very nice 113/1 on the day. He is facing another tough defense here, but I do think having Kenny Golladay on the outside drawing attention gives Shepard more room to operate underneath. The gamescript does skew to the Giants having to pass and Shepard is likely to remain one of the bigger targets on the team.