Monday Night Football Best Bets Strategies - Week 13

Eli may not be having his best season, but the Giants defense has come to play in big games. Which trend will continue tonight?

So it's the holiday season, and if DMX can't get you in the mood for giving, maybe some Redskins/Giants Monday Night Football will. In their last meeting, the Redskins certainly had the holiday spirit; five fumbles, three of which were lost, helped contribute to a 27-13 Giants victory. The Giants certainly aren't looking to return the favor - don't you hate those people at family functions? - but the Redskins hope they can force a bit of the action.

We here at numberFire may not be experts on family gift-giving dynamics, but we're great at statistics. For our official predictions, you'll need to check out our numberFire premium selections. But for a sneak peek into our thought process and some key stats we're looking at for this game, read on.

A Common History

As it stands at the time of this writing, the New York Giants are three point favorites against the Redskins, a line that has actually moved up half a point from the 2.5 mark where it opened. Well, maybe Vegas is in the giving spirit as well. Because when numberFire takes a look at the games from the past dozen seasons with the highest similarity to this matchup (all above an 88.5% match), we find a common theme occurring.

DateMatchupScoreProj. Cover

Not only does the team most similar to Washington cover every single one of these games, but they win outright as well. These games aren't even close either; the Redskins side does not win by less than six points every single time. And they don't even have the magic of RGIII to help them with their holiday wish.

Be careful, each of the next four most common games features the Giants both winning and covering, but if you're an unbeliever that the Redskins can win this game outright, the stats wholly disagree.

My Main Man Manning

Although it's widely known just how amazing RGIII can be, most still believe that Eli Manning is the main quarterback in the division. I mean, the guy's the defending Super Bowl champion, has won two rings total, and didn't completely embarrass himself hosting Saturday Night Live. That has to be good for something, right?

Unfortunately for Manning, however, SNL appearances aren't a main metric in our stats calculations (even as loudly as I've been pushing Chief Analyst Keith Goldner to put it in there). Instead, we're forced to rely on the Net Expected Points (NEP) formula to measure Eli's effectiveness. The idea behind NEP is simple: on a given play, how many expected points does a player gain or lose their team as compared to the average play in that same situation? Add all of the numbers up from the plays that a player directly effects, and you have their NEP score.

And when you look at Eli Manning's NEP numbers, you see his... completely dead average numbers. With 73.38 NEP added total on the season, the Giants are gaining just under a touchdown per game through Eli as compared to the average play. Notice that I said average play as compared to average player; since passing is more efficient than running, 26 of the league's current 32 starting QBs have positive NEP numbers. That means Eli isn't a good as you might think. Among the QBs with higher total NEP numbers entering Week 13 are Andy Dalton, Andrew Luck, Matthew Stafford, and Josh Freeman. In fact, Eli only ranks 12th among NFL QBs, right in between Cam Newton and Tony Romo.

All of this is to say that Manning won't lose you games, but he won't win you many either, especially recently. Since Week 8, Eli Manning's total NEP has actually decreased a slight amount, bolstered primarily by the Giants' Week 10 game against the Bengals when Manning mirrored the Ohio housing market and lost the Giants about 15 points of total expected value.

Getting Up to Shut Down

Feeling a bit upset after reading the first two stats briefs as a Giants fan? I understand, those two recent Super Bowl titles must be extremely grating. But if there's one positive to take heading into tonight's game, it's the strong play of the Giants defense against the most efficient offenses in the league.

The Redskins come into tonight's game with numberFire's No. 8 most efficient offense in the league, but tonight isn't the first time the Giants defense has played a team in the top ten. And in the three games where they have, against the No. 2 Packers, No. 4 49ers, and No. 10 Buccaneers, the Giants have been exceptional.

In every single one of those games, the Giants allowed fewer points than expected. Week 4 against San Francisco resulted in 21.54 points less than expectation, Week 12 against Green Bay resulted in 11.27 points less than expectation, and even the 34 points given up to Tampa Bay in Week 2 was 1.25 points less than expectation given the field position afforded to the Bucs at the start of drives. Even though Washington has been extremely efficient offensively this season, especially with the run, the Giants have shown they can hang with the best.