NFL picks: Giants’ best bets against the Vikings, and more on Christmas Eve


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NFL picks

pluck or pluck
Giants +4
best book
time
1 p.m. ET

Chris Raybon: The Vikings are still overrated for their record (11-3), which they compiled despite being outscored by 44.6 yards per game.

Despite the disparity in talent between the two games, the Giants were the better team, finishing 22nd in DVOA overall compared to the Vikings in 25th. There’s a bit more disparity when you look at the weighted DVOA, which estimates action for recent games and has the Giants 21 and the Vikings 26.

The Giants defense plays the highest coverage percentage in the league, which Kirk Cousins ​​has struggled against. He averages 7.2 yards per targeted pass attempt against a man compared to 8.3 yards against the area. The Giants also had the highest offense in the league (40.7%), and beating the blitz was a major problem for the Cousins ​​as well. His Pro Football Focus score is 52.7 when he ranks 36th out of 39 qualified quarterbacks, and has low proficiency across the board.

  • Cousins ​​on offense: 68.4% completion percentage, 7.5 yards per attempt, 95.7 rating
  • Cousins ​​vs. Blitz: 55.6% completion percentage, 5.6 yards per attempt, 80.4 rating

It’s not just the blitzkrieg that has stirred up the cousins’ troubles. He also struggled against pressure from the four rushing quarterback, with his passer rating dropping to a low 79.4 when pressured.

Despite their flashy identity, the Giants are now fourth in overall pressure rating (24.5%) thanks to a now healthy front four that includes Kayvon Thebodyx and Aziz Ologari on the edge and Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence on the inside. New York should be able to find success against a Minnesota offensive line that allowed pressure on Cousins ​​with 37.0% of his dropouts, seventh most.

This is a big reason the Vikings are only 22 in offensive DVOA and 22 when weighing more recent games. Williams and Lawrence in particular should be able to wreak havoc inside against right guard Ed Ingram and center Austin Schlottman. Ingram is a struggling junior who graduated 68th in the PFF out of 75 qualified guards in pass protection. Schlottmann is an undrafted fifth-year pro who made his third start of the season in place of Garrett Bradbury (running quarterback) who allowed nine pressures over his first two games.

The Vikings will continue to move the ball here, but the pressure should help the Giants get stops in key situations. This has been the formula all season, with New York ranking fourth in red zone conversion rate allowed (50.0%) and fifth in third-division conversion rate allowed (34.9%).

Surprisingly, the Giants’ offense has been the more effective of those two numbers, posting 14th and 12th when weighting the latter games more. Meanwhile, the Vikings defense is ranked 20th overall and heading down, with a DVOA weighted ranking of 24th. The Vikings’ defense allowed opponents to move the ball at will—the total of 5,589 yards allowed is a league high—but managed to stay afloat at times due to creating the ninth-most turnovers (29), which didn’t bode well against A giant attack tied with Philadelphia at the top of the league with only 13 gifts.

One of the main reasons the Giants don’t turn the ball over is the play of Daniel Jones, who leads the league with an interception rate of 1.0%.

Jones has only thrown one interception in six road games this season and has been one of the best quarterbacks to ever return to the road this entire career. According to our Action Labs data, 15-5-1 (75%) ATS as a road underdog in their career, including 12-1 (92%) ATS road dogs with fewer than 8 points.


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pluck or pluck
under 43.5
best book
time
1 p.m. ET

Chris Raybon: This is one of the highest numbers overall for the week, as the forecast calls for the temperature to be “only” 11 degrees below freezing and the average wind speed to be “only” 11 mph, although I think it’s pretty high not dependent on the weather, Rather, it’s because both defenses are trending, with the Panthers DVOA 10th in defense since Week 10, and the Lions 15th (although it’s worth noting that they’re less than 6-3 in games started by Jared Goff in scores of less than 40). .

The Lions defense has had an amazing turnaround since they changed their blueprint and fired defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant prior to Week 9, improving not only against a pass but overall. Here are their numbers for each game before and after making the change:

  • Weeks 1-8: 32.1 points, 421.3 total yards, 0.75 turnover
  • Week 9-15: 19.9 points, 375.7 total yards, 1.71 turnover

The Lions went from giving up 154.9 yards per game in their first seven games to 112.0 in their last seven, which is a lot against a Panthers offense that has been shooting 51.0% of the time since interim head coach Steve Wilkes took over. And even that could lead to the Lions being sold short in this game, since 45% of the rushing yardage allowed in Detroit since Week 9 is for opposing quarterbacks, as they faced a daunting roster of top smashers, including Justin Fields and Josh Allen. .

Against running backs since Week 8, the Lions have allowed just 56.3 yards on 17.6 carries per game, good for 3.2 yards per carry allowed.

Sam Darnold isn’t much of a threat on the ground — he averages 3.0 carries for 11.7 yards — and he’ll have to contend with a Lions defense that attacks at the sixth highest rate (31.6%) when he drops back for a pass. Darnold struggled when the defense sent out extra rushes, with a score of 59.8 in PFF vs. the blitz that put him 38th out of 48 quarterbacks with at least 20 running backs.

While this isn’t one of the worst weather games of the week, it’s worth noting that the Lions’ offense has seen a significant drop when on the road this season, no matter the conditions.

  • Home: 32.1 points, 341.7 total yards, 0.75 turnover
  • Road: 18.7 points, 401.4 total yards, 1.33 turnovers

The Lions played good defense at the Jets on the road last week, but it’s still worth noting that even though they scored 20 points, they were Calif Raymond’s punt return and Jets coverage on fourth down and only inches away from a six-point potential. (Nine if you include Michael Badgley’s missed field goal). The Lions think nothing of putting up a massive number against a Panthers defense that has only allowed 13.0 points per home game since Wilks took over.

No offense numbers for an assist from the officials, Shawn Hochuli’s crew called for 3.0 offense with penalties per game, most crew and almost more total penalties per game than the league average of 2.19. According to our Action Labs data, he’s less than 41-29-3 (59%) all-time in games managed by Hochili. That includes an 8-5 (62%) mark this season and a 23-5-1 (82%) mark when the total is under 45.

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pluck or pluck
Texas +3.5
best book
time
1 p.m. ET

Chris Raybon: Malik Willis handed the ball to Derrick Henry 32 times for 219 yards and two touchdowns against what was at the time the worst defense in the league to come away with a 17-10 victory in the first game for these two teams, but it could be more of a struggle this time around. The Texans have since improved in run defense and are 10th in the DVOA for runs since Week 10.

On top of that, the Titans put center Ben Jones (concussion) and guard Nate Davis (ankle) on the infrared this week. Both are major losses, with Jones having a PFF score of 72.6, 8th of 39 qualifiers at center, and Davis having a PFF score of 70.6, 18th of 86 qualifiers at guard. The duo is joined by left tackle Taylor Lewan (knee), which means more than half of Tennessee’s starting offensive line is now on IR.

The Giants also deal with a host of injuries on defense. They have ruled out cornerback Christian Fulton (groin) and linebacker Dylan Cole (ankle) and placed cornerback Terrence Mitchell (hamstring) on ​​IR this week. They also recently lost linebacker David Long (ankle), who graduated 14th out of the 80 PFF players.

With injuries on both sides of the ball, this is far from a trick for the Titans, especially with Willis again starting in place of the player with the most significant injury (Ryan Tannehill, ankle). Tennessee averaged just 17.0 points per game and 48.5 net yards as Willis’ starter and now faces a rambunctious Texas team that nearly upset the Cowboys (27-23 loss) and Chiefs (30-24 loss) in the past two weeks.

This game’s total is in the mid-30s, which makes the underdog even more valuable. According to our Action Labs data, field goal scorers totaling 47 or fewer are 64-37 (63%) ATS this season, covering an average of 2.2 points per game.

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