• With Titans still priced like a playoff contender, they're a prime fade candidate in Week 1 mismatch vs. Giants.
• Bet Giants alt lines -2.5/-5.5 (+260/+390), and your $20 bets could return $72 and $98, respectively.
Estimated reading time: 6 min
Week 1 bets always present a great opportunity to test our offseason hypotheses before the market builds in the new information from the 2022 season. Balancing last season's performance with offseason changes and early-season results is extremely challenging. Thus, more than later in the season when we have ample data, we will need to build in some projection —which might be off-market — but is the key to hitting tails and making money.
Readers of this column know that I am extremely bearish on Tennessee in 2022, and I think Week 1 presents a great opportunity to capitalize while they are still priced in as a playoff contender. Add in a favorable matchup for the Giants, and this might be my favorite spot to attack opening weekend.
In a matchup with clear angles favoring the Giants, there’s good value in Big Blue winning by one score, nearly quadrupling our profit in the process.
Bet: Giants alt -2.5 (+260), -5.5 (+390) on DraftKings
Team strength: The Delta in Production Between Tannehill and Jones is mispriced
Accounting for about 2 points of home advantage, the Titans as 5.5-point favorites likely means that the market is pricing in about a 4-point difference in team strength between the two teams. And I think most of those 4 points come from the difference in the QB rooms, where Ryan Tannehill has produced at a near-elite clip since arriving in Tennessee while Daniel Jones has underwhelmed in the Meadowlands so far.
Some context for Tannehill:
• Tannehill 2019: EPA Rank 4th; PFF Rank: 3rd
• Tannehill 2020: EPA Rank; 3rd PFF Rank: 5th
• Tannehill 2021: EPA Rank; 18th PFF Rank: 7th
Nonetheless, Tannehill, in my estimation, is a product of his environment — which has significantly worsened over the past couple of years. This would suggest a continued decline in production that he endured last year. Former Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith is now the head coach in Atlanta. Alpha WR1 AJ Brown is gone after accounting for 90% of the team's passing offense last year. Derrick Henry is past the critical 1500-rush curve. Additionally, the offensive line projects to be among the league's worst. It shows in the numbers, and I see no reason why this trend will stop.
While Jones hasn’t lit the world on fire, failing thus far to overcome his own poor environment, it can’t get much worse for a quarterback than Daniel Jones under the Joe Judge/Jason Garrett regime. Regardless of whether he takes a large leap this year, Jones' production probably can’t get much worse. And there are reasons for optimism — beginning even in Week 1.
With seemingly minimal impactful injuries at this point, the Giants are set to have an improved offensive line, a decent arsenal for Jones headlined by a burgeoning young star WR1, and, finally, a coaching staff positioning its players to succeed. Of note, under OC Mike Kafka and HC Brian Daboll, Jones surely will attempt more deep passes in 2022. He had the lowest deep-attempt percentage in NFL last year — an area where he has excelled in his career, including posting PFF’s No. 3 deep grade in NFL in 2020.
Bottom line: QB play accounts for the biggest difference between these two teams' rankings, but I think the market is unduly projecting Tannehill more like it's 2019-20 than 2022 while Jones continues his poor play despite the potential upgrades. I won’t be too shocked if these quarterbacks are in the same QB tier come Week 13 — and I want to be early for that train.
Big Matchups favoring Big Blue
Now, fundamental analysis is fun and important, but we’re betting a Week 1 game, so we need to also pay attention to the matchup and the prices for the here and now.
The Giants have a massive advantage on the interior, where Tennessee DOGs Nate Davis and Aaron Brewer both were bottom 7 in PFF’s Successful Blocking Over Expected. They face off against Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence for the Giants, both top-20 interior players according to PFF’s Ben Linsey. The Giants already have two Titans weak links to exploit on the inside, but even on the outside, No. 5 overall pick Kayvon Thibodeaux could pose an issue for rookie third-rounder Nicholas Petit-Frere in their NFL debuts.
On the flip side, following the loss of Harold Landry, the Titans have almost no pass rush. Bud Dupree’s best days are behind him. Jeffrey Simmons presents the only threat, but he will be slated to face constant double teams from the Giants. Daniel Jones should have all day to throw in Week 1.
New Giants DC Wink Martindale is likely to bring his man-happy blitz scheme from Baltimore to New York. The Giants will live and die by their pass rush and blitz, leaving their man-to-man corners to win their battles on the outside. The strategy is risky — and its long term success likely hinges on the favorability of the WR-CB matchups.
But in this spot, TEN does not have the receivers nor the quarterback to take advantage of the Giants' scheme. I see this as a spot where the Giants D-line — with the help of the blitz — can completely overwhelm Tannehill, who'll likely have no receivers open downfield to help him out.
The Giants will be an attackable defense this season, but with a weak interior O-line and awful receiving, the Titans present perhaps the perfect opportunity for the Giants to succeed defensively.
Why the Alt line?
I’ve outlined why I think this game is mispriced from a talent perspective and why this matchup sneakily favors the Giants. Now, I don’t think it's most likely for the Giants to win by more than 5, but the line offers value relative to price for 3 reasons.
1) Should the thesis above regarding the trenches be true, there is a distinct possibility that Tennessee gets dominated, unable to get anything going behind its O-line. This would mean a blowout early. And again, without any real receiving options, the Titans are not exactly the best team to come from behind, so the -5.5 captures the distributions angle
2) The extra juice of the alt lines adds more live-betting opportunities. Should the Giants jump out to an early lead, and for whatever reason watching the game presents you with a Titans angle, you can grab both sides at plus-money live.
3) The – 5.5 gets us to buy points before key numbers, but not get too crazy with the points in a game with a low total.