The NFL probably didn't figure on it being a projected blowout.
The first double-digit spread of the NFL season is here (you might also include Texans-Ravens from Week 1 depending if you graded the closing line at 9.5 or 10). The Giants are 10.5-point underdogs to the 49ers at BetMGM.
While it's early in the season to have a double-digit underdog, especially one that isn't considered one of the NFL's worst teams, there are good reasons for the big line. The Giants have looked pretty bad to start the season, though they pulled a win against the Arizona Cardinals from the fire in the second half last week. The 49ers have looked very good to start the season, justifying everyone who picked them to win the Super Bowl. And the Giants will go into this game without running back Saquon Barkley and tackle Andrew Thomas. Barkley is the headliner of the two, but it's not great to be missing Thomas against a great 49ers defensive line.
There's no great reason to take the Giants, which should make you consider a case for New York. Oddsmakers know that nobody wants to take the Giants. That's why the spread is so high.
It's fairly rare to see double-digit underdogs in the NFL (though there are three in Week 3, and the Texans are close at +9.5), and it's because most pro teams are never as bad as they're made out to be. Underdogs this season are 18-12-2 against the spread, according to Covers.com. Road underdogs are even better ATS, with a 13-6-1 record. Some of those ATS winners were pretty ugly dogs that were not fun to back.
The Giants looked bad through six quarters. They were outscored 60-0 to start the season. But in the second half last week they came alive. Daniel Jones in particular was great in the comeback win over the Cardinals. Even if the Giants were a bit worse than their 9-7-1 record last season and were miserable in six quarters to start the season, they're still a capable team. Despite what you hear about them (or any team this season that has a bad quarter), they won't be in the Caleb Williams sweepstakes.
It might not be a fun evening, but Giants +10.5 is a lukewarm pick for Thursday night. If you wait, you might be able to get even more than 10.5 points on the Giants before kickoff. The line was +10 on Wednesday and moved up. Hopefully the game is more entertaining than the point spread indicates.
Here's the first look at the sports betting slate for Thursday:
Georgia State and Coastal Carolina battle
There is one FBS football game on Thursday if the NFL game isn't any good. Georgia State is a 6.5-point underdog at Coastal Carolina. Georgia State is off to a 3-0 start, having scored 42, 35 and 41 points in its three games. Coastal lost its opener to UCLA but rebounded with two wins, including a 66-7 win over Duquesne last week.
MLB with 9 games
The baseball season takes a back seat on Monday and Thursday nights and all day Sunday, and that's especially true this September with most divisional races already wrapped up. But there's still intrigue down the stretch.
There aren't any games in which both teams are battling for a playoff spot. The closest is the San Francisco Giants, trying to stay alive in the NL wild-card race, at the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have the NL West wrapped up but still have a shot to catch the Atlanta Braves for the NL's top seed. Los Angeles is a -185 favorite.
Another game to watch is the Toronto Blue Jays at the New York Yankees. The Blue Jays are still in the AL wild-card race. The Yankees are out of it but have Cy Young favorite Gerrit Cole on the mound, which makes for a tough test for Toronto. The Yankees are -140 favorites.
What's the best bet?
I don't have a great angle for a Thursday night NFL game that could be a blowout (maybe Brock Purdy under 227.5 yards; the 49ers won't throw much if the Giants can't keep it close), so we'll search elsewhere for a best bet. Oddsmakers seem to think the 67-85 St. Louis Cardinals are far better than they are. The Milwaukee Brewers are 19 games ahead of the Cardinals in the division. Milwaukee has won seven of its last 10. The Brewers have won two of three to start the four-game series in St. Louis. Yet on Thursday, the teams are both -110 odds. Perhaps the Brewers start to let down a bit with a seven-game lead in the NL Central over the Chicago Cubs, but I'll still take the far better team on Thursday at what amounts to a pick 'em.