With Sterling Shepard out and Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram looking iffy to play, the Giants are listed as 16¹/₂-point underdogs at most sportsbooks in Las Vegas and New Jersey for Thursday night’s game against the Patriots in Foxborough, Mass.
The Patriots are 5-0, winning by an average score of 31-7. They are coming off a 33-7 victory at Washington in Week 5, when Pat Shurmur’s team lost at home to Minnesota, 28-10, to fall to 2-3.
Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading for William Hill, said the line carries the expectation Barkley will not play. The number hit 17 at William Hill but was reduced by a half point after some “sharp” money came in on the underdog.
“It’s not as if New England is playing lights out offensively,” Bogdanovich said. “That’s why the [Over/Under] is only 42 ¹/₂.”
According to Bruce Marshall of The Gold Sheet, which has tracked NFL point spreads since it began publishing in 1957, this is the first time the Giants have been underdogs in this neighborhood in almost 40 years. On Oct. 19, 1980, the Giants lost 44-7 to the Chargers at San Diego’s Jack Murphy Stadium as 16-point underdogs. Hall of Famer Dan Fouts threw for 444 yards and three touchdowns to drop the Giants to 1-6.
The Giants have a good recent history as double-digit underdogs, covering four of five spreads in that scenario since 2005 and winning three of the five games outright. That sample includes the two games against New England in the 2007 season. The Patriots were favored by 13 when they were going for a 16-0 mark in the regular-season finale, but defeated the Giants by just three, 38-35. A little more than a month later, the Giants were 12¹/₂-point underdogs when Eli Manning and friends stunned the Patriots, 17-14.
In the 1966 season, the 1-12-1 Giants were underdogs of at least 20 points twice. They covered a 22-point spread in a 24-19 loss at the St. Louis Cardinals on Oct. 9. Then on Dec. 4, the Giants were 26-point underdogs versus the Browns at Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium. Clarence Childs took the opening kick 90 yards for a touchdown for the Giants, who had leads of 14-0, 31-14 and 40-28 before losing 49-40.
The Giants’ largest outright upsets on record came in 1974, when they won 14-6 at Dallas as 13¹/₂ -point underdogs, and in 1975, when they won in Buffalo, 17-14, as 13-point ’dogs.