We're off to the home of New York Giants for Thursday night's NFL action, and our man Kieran O'Connor fancies the Philadelphia Eagles will be the team flying high after the match...
Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Giants
Live on Sky Sports Main Event & Action
Thursday night footy not to everyone's liking
One of the major angles we like to cover when we talk about Thursday Night Football is the fact that players seem to hate it. The likes of Richard Sherman, Doug Baldwin and most recently Todd Gurley have all come out and voiced their displeasure at these games.
Their reasoning is the popular opinion that having two games in the space of five days is extremely hard on the player and the quality dips. It is also one of the main reasons I believe that the away side is at a huge disadvantage and since the reintroduction of the Thursday Night Game, the home side has won at almost 70% of the time.
This is why I tip the home side so much for these games but is also the reason that this Thursday's games is so interesting.
Let's be clear, the Eagles are having a major Super Bowl hangover. They sit at 2-3 in their conference and look nothing like the side that got to the Super Bowl last year. That team stood toe-to-toe with anyone and laughed when they were underdogs. Many times, they fell behind early, rallied and won the game. This year they are still falling behind (the Eagles have only scored first in one game this season) but the rally is too little, too late and lacks a real belief it will happen.
On Sunday, the first two Philadelphia drives produced zero first downs and -4 net yards. Boos rained down at half time as they ran to the locker room 20-3 down to the Vikings. A team they beat in the NFC title game last year. The Eagles now have lost as many games as they did in the whole of last season and it's only week five.
Slow starts costing the Eagles
What has gone wrong? Lot's really. On the offensive side, the wide receivers have been awful so far. They are poor on the ground, too, and this will only get worse now with the news that Jay Ajayi is out for the season. Could the Eagles look to LeSean McCoy again? It would not surprise me if a call was put in to Buffalo this week, who appear to be planning on life without the ageing Running Back.
Their defence is not going well either with Adam Thielen the latest wideout to rip them to shreds.
In summary, the Eagles are on a short week, on the road, with the stats all against them. Why would you back them? Because the Giants are that bad.
Blame it like Beckham
How bad are the Giants? We probably won't know that for another few weeks but the warning signs are there that this season could be as bad as last season. In Elli Manning they have a quarterback who is nowhere near as good as he once was and even at his peak, he never seemed better than average (in the regular season).
Adding to their woes are the views of outspoken wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. After receiving a $95 million contract this year, it only took a few months for him to throw his quarterback under the bus. He is on record claiming the team lacked energy and heart and that he didn't know if Manning was the issue for the Giants spluttering offence. The comments have been described as galvanising for the team. I'm not sure how they could be.
Some will take heart from the fact the Giants were moments away from winning on Sunday against a strong Panthers side but the key here is that they didn't. Go back and look at the game, some of their play was laughable. Curtis Samuel dodged four tackles on the way to the end zone. How does the Giants D explain that one? Or the blunder from the Panthers punt? That one is entirely on Beckham, though I doubt he would consider taking responsibility for it.
It may have taken the Panthers a 63-yard field goal to win the game but as soon as Carolina got the ball back, I felt they would win. Perhaps worst of all for New York fans, is the fact that it was the first time since 3 January, 2016 that they had scored 30 plus points in a game and yet they still weren't able to win the game.
Barkley to give Giants a good start
This really is a no brainer based on yearlong form. On one side you have the Super Bowl Champions desperate to recapture their winning ways and on the other you have a team that have lost 17 of their last 21 games. There may be a few doubts about this Philly team but they should get the job done and cover the handicap of -2.5. Hangover or not.
As I mentioned earlier, the Eagles have a terrible record of going behind and it could easily happen again, especially with a big New York crowd around them. In the Touchdown market, it's hard to trust in the Manning to Beckham combination based on this season's form., My preference would be for their new running back Saquon Barkley who is a shining light in what could be a dark season for New York. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Barkley has already found the end zone five times this season and I am surprised to see him at Evs to score a touchdown. I assumed he would be odds-on.
I'll have a little nibble on him to score the first touchdown at 13/2 and cover that bet with one at Evs for him to score.