Our Monday night football sports betting preview features the Giants at the 49ers this week. Log in to Wannamakeabet.com to put your action in on the game. Join our free November All Sports league to make sure you’re in.
Now, back to our Monday Night Football preview. We’ve got the 49ers and the Giants tonight. Both are coming into the game with a combined record of 3-14. Nick Mullens against Eli Manning.
Not much is on the line in this game, other than perhaps the future of the quarterbacks. Mullens is the upstart who is filling in for an injured Jimmy G and can solidify his place in the league with another solid start, while Manning could lose his job if he doesn’t manage to get things going quickly.
Why the Giants. Yup, we have to sit and watch Eli Manning and the offensive line struggle to open up the line and get the ball into the hands of Saquon Barkley and OBJ.
Barkley has been great, but not on every down. That said, he numbers are amazing. In eight games, he has 519 yards on the ground and 497 through the air. He’s the first rookie in NFL history with 500-plus and 400-plus through the first eight games of his career. He’s averaging over 4.5 yards per carry and is on pace for more than 100 catches, which is something that only LaDainian Tomlinson has done in the history of the running back position.
But as we’ve written before, so much of his value is tied to volume and a propensity to break big plays. Far too often, he is stopped at or behind the line of scrimmage. Among 36 qualified players, Barkley ranks 29th in Football Outsiders’ Success Rate on running plays. To put that in perspective, he’s tied with the Bucs’ Peyton Barber. So, yeah, that’s not great. A full 28 percent of Barkley’s carries have gone for a loss or no gain, one of the highest rates in the NFL. (If Barkley was a team by himself, it would be the third-highest percentage ahead of only the Eagles and Bucs.) Of course, he also has nine runs of 15 yards or more, three of which have gone for touchdowns.
Eli’s passing numbers look better than they have in a while, that’s coming amid the best passing season in the history of football. His net yards per attempt figure is below average, he’s checking as much as almost any quarterback in the league, and he just cannot seem to throw touchdowns to anyone.
Why the 49ers? It will once again be the Nick Mullens show. The undrafted free agent had a spectacular debut against the Raiders 11 days ago and it earned him the right to continue under center. Mullens completed 16 of 22 passes for 262 yards and three touchdowns against the Raiders, posting a 151.9 passer rating. That was the second-best rating in the history of the NFL for a player making his first start. But can he repeat that performance? Reports out of sports books in Vegas say the public doesn’t believe he can, as the 49ers are getting less than 35% of tickets at most of the big books.
The Giants’ pass defense hasn’t been great, but it should provide a tough test for Mullens in his second start. New York ranks 27th in pass defense, and has struggled the most against No. 1 wideouts and players in the slot. That does not necessarily play to San Francisco’s strengths as an offense, as their passing attack tends to run through tight end George Kittle, with a sprinkle of misdirection plays used to get their running backs or fullback Kyle Juszczyk.
The Giants have actually been pretty good against tight ends this season, which is a massive change from a year ago. Last year, the Giants allowed an average line of five catches for 58 yards to tight ends, while also giving up 12 touchdowns to players at the position. Only one tight end has scored against New York so far this season, and players at the position are averaging almost a half-catch per game fewer than they did a year ago.
Kittle, though, has proven himself to be one of the best receiving tight ends in football, and the 49ers design screens and quick-hitting routes to get the ball in his hands so he get yards after catches. That said, this is a different kind of matchup than any they’ve faced so far. The best places to attack the New York pass defense are still short and over the middle, and again, that means a lot of Kittle, and probably a bunch of the running backs and Juszczyk as well.
The 49ers are a bit banged up as well. With both projected starter Jerick McKinnon and recent hot-hand Raheem Mostert on injured reserve, the running game is now based around only Matt Breida and Alfred Morris. Morris hasn’t done much. And Breida has been hampered by injury and has limped off the field at some point in five straight games. The Giants have been solid against the run this season. But much of that foundation was with Damon Harrison in the middle of the defense. They gave up 182 yards on the ground (5.5 per carry) to Washington in Week 8 after Harrison was traded.
Prediction. Don’t fool yourself into thinking this is a must win game for the Giants. That time has come and gone. But that said, we still believe the Giants are the better football team with the better quarterback. We’d prefer to back an underperforming team than one with a rookie starting his second game ever. It’s one thing to come off the bench, it’s another to wait all week to start a game. Eli badly needs a win. And this is the perfect spot. We like the Giants in this position to cover and get the outright win. Final score, Giants 17 – 49ers 13.