Tom Brady did not look like himself, the Pats twice went for it on fourth down when they probably didn’t need to and a normally strong New England defense had no answer for Alex Smith and rookie running back, Kareem Hunt.
It was about as backwards of a game as we could have received to kick off the 2017 NFL season, yet something tells me that was only the beginning. Heading into Sunday, we absolutely need to be concerned that more surprises like that could pop up, but the main mission remains locating the best, most logical betting value we can find.
That could come in the form of a gritty NFC East showdown between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football.
Which way should you bet this week? Let’s break the first of two 2017 meetings down to find out:
New York Giants (+170)
Dallas Cowboys (-200)
As far as betting goes, we’re either looking at the spread or a straight up bet in this spot. The Total feels rather dicey and we don’t get much upside with it.
The value is weak if we’re siding with Dallas, so we’re either hunting for a Giants win at +175 at Bovada, or we’re looking to nail a 4-point spread, one way or another.
I’m not going to waste your time here. I love the Giants at this Money Line. The spread is too tight to really feel confident about, too. The last game between these two teams was decided by one point and the last five games in this nasty series have been decided by a touchdown or less.
Spreads just aren’t fun in this game, but if we had to make a call, we’d take the points with the Giants. If Dallas does win this, it isn’t likely to be by much.
I don’t love Dallas here, though.
The Giants are probably in their heads. They’ve won three in a row in this series and they swept Dallas last year. The biggest reason why is a vastly improved defense that held the ‘Boys to just 26 total points a year ago.
New York’s defense remains their calling card coming into 2017. This is a unit that finished 4th against the run in 2016, 2nd in points allowed and displayed improvement in their pass rush.
There is potential for the G-Men to be even better on that side of the ball this year and with an intense road date against a hated rival up first in week one, you better believe they’ll be dialed in.
New York does have their question marks, of course. Star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has been shaky in this matchup in the past and thanks to an ankle injury, he may not be 100% even if he does suit up:
Considering the status and impact of Beckham is one thing for a New York offense that was inconsistent if not pedestrian in 2016. They also don’t have a proven rushing attack, as Paul Perkins assumes lead back duties and has thus far proven to be an underwhelming option.
Eli Manning does have some solid weapons at his disposal, though. Whether Perkins pans out or not, he still could have Beckham, a veteran chain-mover in Brandon Marshall, an explosive rookie tight end in Evan Engram and shifty scat-back Shane Vereen.
There is enough here to move the ball and help keep the New York defense fresh. In a give-and-take defensive battle, that may be enough to get the job done.
On the other side, the Cowboys do have a lot of talent to worry about. The Dak Prescott to Dez Bryant connection should only be better this year, while secondary passing game threats like Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley and rookie slot demon Ryan Switzer could all be problematic for the G-Men. Savvy veteran tight end Jason Witten caps a passing game that can be explosive at best and steady at worst.
It could be the ground game that again defines the Cowboys this year, and considering stud rusher Ezekiel Elliott could be absent for the next six games, odds are Dallas will use him early and often in this matchup.
All roads lead back to that Giants defense, though. Zeke was held in check by a strong New York run defense the first time he faced them and this offense as a whole hasn’t figured out Steve Spagnuolo’s schemes yet.
I’m not sure they do that in week one. Dallas has taken a step back defensively and they have two key weapons the Giants will focus on disrupting. If the Giants can stifle Elliott like they have in the past, that will make life rather difficult for Prescott and Dallas could struggle their way to a fourth consecutive defeat in this series.
History and playing style says this should be a tight, low-scoring affair. We’d play it safe with the Under and the Giants at +4 if we’re attacking the Total and spread, but at +170, the Giants are too good to pass up as a winner to kick off 2017.
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