It’s only the third week of the season, but it’s already been a roller coaster for Giants fans. Hoping to build off last year’s storybook run to the divisional round of the postseason, Brian Daboll’s bunch started 2023 by getting blanked, 40-0, by the Dallas Cowboys on a national stage.
Happy to put the loss behind them in a perfect “get-right spot” against Arizona, the Giants continued crashing to rockbottom as they went into halftime trailing 20-0. What happened next was similar to a scene in an action movie, where the main character (in this case Daniel Jones) redirects the plane upwards at the very last second to avoid a catastrophic crash. Just like in the movies, Giants fans, along with a large percentage of survivor contestants, sighed in relief as Graham Gano belted the game-winning field goal through the uprights with 19 seconds left.
The game went down in the books as a 31-28 win for New York to even up their record at 1-1. There were very encouraging positives in the second half. Daniel Jones did what the front office envisioned when they guaranteed him $82 million this offseason. Jones finished the game with 321 yards passing and two touchdowns. Great stats, but being able to lead that type of rally after your team started the season being outscored 60-0 is a promising sign for Jones’ ability to take another step this season.
Was New York’s comeback win a signal that Jones has righted the ship? Facing Kyle Shanahan’s San Francisco 49ers on a short week is a great way to find out. The 2-0 49ers are 10-point favorites as they take on the Giants on "Thursday Night Football." With RB Saquon Barkley and OT Andrew Thomas ruled out, the weight on Daniel Jones' shoulders increases tenfold. Let’s look at why those losses are going to be tough to overcome, before we zero in on the best way to bet Thursday's game.
This is a gigantic jump in competition for the Giants. Pro Football Focus power ranks each team at the start of the week. Twenty-eight of 32 teams sit between Arizona and San Francisco, with the Cardinals down at 31st and the 49ers at second-best overall. Last week’s win was a positive step, but New York has little to no chance of digging out of an early deficit against the 49ers.
The main reason is the way San Francisco’s feared defense can bring pressure in waves. Led by Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead and Javon Hargrave, the 49ers hold the top spot as PFF’s No. 1 pass rushing unit, grading slightly above the Dallas Cowboys. We already saw how Dallas completely obliterated the Giants offensive line when it forced seven sacks, multiple turnovers and one defensive touchdown in a 40-0 laugher just two weeks ago. Jones will need all the protection he can get, and not having Thomas back makes it even more challenging. Factor in that he will be without his biggest playmaker in Barkley and things could get dicey awfully quick for the offense. Second-year tackle Joshua Ezeudu did a nice job against the Cardinals, but asking him to handle Bosa on the road is not a situation I want to back as a bettor.
Laying the largest spread of this young season isn’t how I want to spend my Thursday night either. The Giants were a wagon last year in these spots, with a perfect 3-0 record ATS as double-digit dogs. Rather than force a bet on a side, I am going to look to bet on the 49ers offense by playing their team total over.
Best Bet: San Francisco 49ers Team Total over 27.5 (-110)
I was admittedly skeptical of Brock Purdy’s ability to duplicate last year’s success, but the Niners’ offense has been a machine. The scary part is that he has done it while starting the year with two road games. San Francisco has scored 30 points in each game, while ranking No. 1 in EPA/play (0.36) and tied for second in yards per play (6.3). The Giants defense is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, ranking 32nd and 27th in the same categories. They also are allowing touchdowns on 71.43% of red zone trips so far this year.
If the 49ers are punching it in for seven points the majority of the time they are deep in Giants territory, I like their chances of going over the total. The 49ers should terrorize Jones, making it difficult to protect the football and eliminate the negative plays that will set Purdy up with short fields for the majority of the night. Last season, the 49ers offense was even more impressive at home. They averaged 28.4 points on the year at Levi's Stadium, but scored at least 35 in all three where Purdy started under center. With the Giants defense on a short week to prepare, let’s take full advantage by targeting the team total over.