Koerner’s Guide to Betting Thursday Night Football
Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Greg Ward
Sean Koerner, our Director of Predictive Analytics, highlights his favorite full-game bets and prop(s) below.
He’s 50-27 (64.9%) so far and has a 256-177-5 (59.1%) all-time record on NFL bets he’s tracked in the Action app.
And if you’re looking for more action, his projections also power the FantasyLabs NFL Player Prop Tool, which grades every prop.
Giants vs. Eagles Odds
When the New York Giants (1-5) take on the Philadelphia Eagles (1-4-1), the winner could be in position to take over first place in the NFC East if the Dallas Cowboys lose on Sunday. It’s peak Thursday Night Football, but I am grateful for every game that gets played this season — that we get to bet on!
The Eagles have seen heavy action ever since they opened as 5.5-point favorites — 65% of bets and 68% of the money are on them as of writing (find real-time public betting data here). But once it was clear that the Eagles would be without running back Miles Sanders and tight end Zach Ertz, the line fell to -3.5, though it’s since crept back up to -4.5 with DeSean Jackson and Lane Johnson cleared to play.
I’m projecting the Eagles as 6-point favorites based on all of these updates.
They’re coming off a brutal three-game stretch in which they had to face the 49ers, Steelers and Ravens. Those three teams were all able to attack the Eagles’ biggest weakness right now — their offensive line — by generating pressure. But the Giants are more average in terms of generating pressure (14th), so Carson Wentz should have a clean(er) pocket on Thursday night.
Wentz also has his primary deep threat in Jackson back. Alshon Jeffery and Jalen Reagor should return in the coming weeks, too, but Travis Fulgham has played well enough to remain in the starting lineup even when all the other pass-catchers are healthy. He’s another reason I’m leaning toward the Eagles — and it helps that the Giants have been a pass funnel defense, ranking 23rd against the pass but 15th against the run in Football Outsiders’ DVOA.
The Eagles have enough healthy weapons to take advantage of the inferior team.
New Giants head coach Joe Judge may have a difficult time game-planning on the short week during a pandemic, so there’s also a huge coaching edge here as Eagles head coach Doug Pederson has the experience and a more analytical approach that will benefit the Eagles with limited prep time.
I liked the over at 43.5 earlier this week, but the total is up to 45 at most books as of Wednesday evening (compare live odds now). And while my projected total for this game is 46.5, which I expect the market to climb to eventually, I’m staying away at the current price.
As for the spread, I’m leaning toward the Eagles at -4.5, but note that I don’t consider it a must-bet — it’s only a recommendation if you’re itching for action.
LEAN: Eagles -4.5
Prop Bet for Giants-Eagles
- The Pick: Greg Ward Over 3.5 Rec (+115)
- Bet Now: DraftKings
The player I want to invest on Thursday night is Greg Ward because I believe he offers some hidden upside.
DeSean Jackson is returning to the lineup tonight, which should shuffle the Eagles’ wide receiver rotation quite a bit. But Ward and Travis Fulgham should still continue to see ~75-80% of the snaps on Thursday while John Hightower will be the WR who concedes his snaps for DJax.
Ward operates mostly out of the slot and could see an increase in targets with Zach Ertz out of the lineup. You can see two of their recent route trees below (courtesy of NextGen stats) to see how Ward could absorb one to two more targets without Ertz roaming around the same area of the field as Ward:
Last week, Ward had to face off against shutdown slot corner Marlon Humphrey for much of the game, which explains his 2/19/0 box score. But tonight he’ll have a much easier matchup against fourth-round rookie Darnay Holmes, who has struggled this season, as evidenced by his 39.9 Pro Football Focus grade.
I’m projecting Ward for 5-6 targets tonight, but he’s likely going to be Carson Wentz’s main safety valve with both Ertz and Miles Sanders out. It’s risky betting on his receiving yards because of his 5.7 average depth of target (third-lowest among qualified WRs). Ward sees high-percentage throws (as seen by his 71% catch rate) designed to rack up a handful of yards at a time. Therefore it makes more sense to attack the over 3.5 receptions. I would bet this up to -130.
Here are the projected chances of Ward going over or under each receptions number in my 10,000 sims: