Historically, home teams have a big advantage in these quick turnaround Thursday night NFL games, which is a trend that has continued this year with home teams taking 9 of the previous 14. This week will be the final Thursday game of the 2016 season, and it means everything for the New York Giants and nothing at all for their NFC East rival Philadelphia Eagles. New York opened as a slight road favourite on Sports Interaction’s NFL betting odds.
New York Giants vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Point spread: Giants -2.5
Date: Thursday, Dec. 22, 8:30 p.m. ET
Location: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia
New York Giants
The Giants (10-4) haven’t made the playoffs since winning their most recent Super Bowl in the 2011 season, but they are all but locked to make this postseason and would officially clinch a spot with a win or tie against the Eagles. Most likely, the Giants will be a wild-card team, but they still have a mathematical shot to catch NFC East-leading Dallas (12-2) for the division title and even the NFC’s top seed. New York would have to also win Week 17 in Washington and the Cowboys lose Monday night at home vs. Detroit and lose Week 17 in Philadelphia for the G-Men to win the division and be the conference’s top seed. If the playoffs were today, the Giants would travel to the NFC North-leading Lions on wild-card weekend.
And speaking of those Lions, that’s the team the Giants beat in Week 16, 17-6 in New York’s home finale. It was another spectacular effort by a Giants defense that is arguably the league’s most improved from last year. That unit forced two turnovers and the Lions were 0-for-3 in the red zone in terms of converting into touchdowns. New York hasn’t allowed a touchdown in seven straight quarters. The team got a scare when top cornerback Janoris Jenkins left Sunday’s win with possible internal injuries. That has since been ruled out, but Jenkins might miss this game. Veteran Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is expected to start if that’s the case.
The Giants’ offense was just average yet again Sunday, but they did enough. Eli Manning threw for 201 yards and two scores, one to Odell Beckham Jr. and one to rookie Sterling Shepard. Rookie Paul Perkins was a rare bright spot in the running game with 56 yards on 11 carries.
New York is 8-5-1 against the spread this season and 3-2-1 ATS on the road.
The Eagles (5-9) have nothing to play for other than spoiler. Many fans of struggling teams want their clubs to lose as much as possible late in the season to earn a higher draft pick — there is no draft lottery in the NFL like there is in the NBA or NHL. However, the Eagles don’t even own their first-round pick as that will be given to the Cleveland Browns as part of the package for Philadelphia to move up to No. 2 overall in last year’s draft and take North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz.
Wentz has shown flashes of future stardom while also having his rookie struggles with the Eagles, losing five straight and nine of eleven. We saw a little of both this past Sunday in a 27-26 loss in Baltimore. Wentz was just 22-for-42 for 170 yards with an interception, but he also led a 59-yard touchdown drive in the final two minutes. He brought the Eagles within one on a 4-yard TD run with four seconds to go.
First-year Eagles coach Doug Pederson made the interesting decision to go for the win with a 2-point conversion rather than surely force overtime by kicking the PAT. But Wentz’s pass was incomplete. Pederson’s reasoning? “Our chances in overtime are less than 50 percent, being underdogs.” Would he have done that if the Eagles were in the playoff chase?
Philly sees the return of their best offensive lineman for this game, as Pro Bowl right tackle Lane Johnson comes off a 10-game suspension for testing positive for PEDs. He will go right back into the starting lineup. The Eagles are 6-8 ATS this season and 4-2 ATS at home.
Giants vs. Eagles Prediction
New York beat Philadelphia 28-23 on November 6th. Manning threw for 247 yards and four touchdowns but was picked off twice. Wentz threw for 364 yards but had no TDs and had two interceptions. The Eagles were stopped on fourth-and-10 at the Giants’ 17 with under two minutes to go. Take New York here as it’s all about motivation. Lean under the total with two scuffling offenses.