Lions 3-Point Underdogs As They Try To Slow Giants’ Barkley

The Lions, coming off their first road win under second-year coach Dan Campbell, are hoping to follow up their 31-30 thriller over the Chicago Bears with an upset over the favored New York Giants at Met Life Stadium on Sunday.

That would be a lovely appetizer for Campbell and his guys heading into the team’s traditional Thanksgiving Day game — this one against one of the best teams in the NFL, the Buffalo Bills. A win over the Giants would give the Lions their first three-game winning streak since 2017, when they won three straight from Nov. 6 through Nov. 19.

Line movement toward the Lions

Most sports betting operators opened Sunday’s game at Giants -4.5, but enough money poured in on the Lions to move it to Giants -3 as of Friday morning. Caesars Sportsbook was offering the best vig on the Lions (-105), while PointsBet had the best price on the Giants (-107). As of Friday morning, 63% of the bets have been on New York, but 63% of the money has been on Detroit.

The Lions, 5-4 against the spread (ATS), face a Giants team that has the second-best ATS record in the NFL at 7-2, trailing only the Tennessee Titans, who moved to 8-2 ATS with a cover against Green Bay on Thursday night.

The G-men pose a challenge for a Lions defense that has struggled in all phases, but particularly against the run. Saquon Barkley already has four games with at least 100 rushing yards and leads the NFL in rushing yards per game at 103.4. The Lions have given up more rushing yards per game (160.9) than any team aside from the Houston Texans.

What’s more, Giants quarterback Daniel Jones is more than capable of hurting teams with his legs as well as his arm. He is averaging 43 rushing yards per game and gained over 100 yards against the Jacksonville Jaguars. At the very least, the Lions got some experience trying to contain a running quarterback last week against the Bears’ Justin Fields, the only quarterback in the league with more scrambles than Jones’ 35.

Conversely, the strength of the Lions’ offense is the passing game. They have been above average in pass protection, and Jared Goff ranks a solid ninth in passer rating at 93.7. If Goff can avoid turnovers, this offense is good enough to put up points against a Giants defense that has been roughly average against the pass, but which has a young secondary and, so far, a well-below-average pass rush.

The over-under: 45

The Giants have hit the under in seven of their first nine games and have not played a game that totaled more than 45 points since Week 6, a 27-22 come-from-behind win over the Green Bay Packers in London. Meanwhile, Detroit is the second-most likely team in the league to have its games hit the over, going 6-3.

Given the weakness of Detroit’s run defense and the shakiness of New York’s pass defense, it seems at least conceivable the teams go beyond 45 on the scoreboard. There is no precipitation in Sunday’s forecast, which pegs temperatures to be in the mid-40s.

Props of note

At DraftKings, Barkley’s yardage total is set at 95, a number he has surpassed in four of nine games. He’s -200 to score a touchdown at any time. He has scored at least once in every game but two this season. It’s hard to imagine a scenario, short of an injury, in which Barkley doesn’t have a big game at home.

Goff’s passing yardage total is set at 224.5 (with -115 on either side), while he is +135 to throw more than one passing touchdown. He’s been a bit interception-prone, with seven, leading to a line of -110 on him to throw at least one this game. By contrast, Jones has thrown just two interceptions (in 64 fewer pass attempts) all year and he’s +155 to throw an interception.

Photo: Brad Penner/USA TODAY

Author: Justin King