Why You Should Think Twice About Betting Against Jimmy Garoppolo As Underdog

Jimmy G has been a profitable underdog for his career


Banged up and catching points is nothing new for Jimmy Garoppolo.

It sounds like the San Francisco 49ers quarterback at least will give it a go Saturday night in the NFL divisional round against the Green Bay Packers despite dealing with shoulder and thumb injuries.

The 49ers enter the weekend as one of the NFL’s hottest teams having won seven of their last nine games. A lot of that is attributed to a revitalized rushing attack, but Garoppolo deserves at least some credit for being the on-field extension of head coach Kyle Shanahan and offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel. San Francisco has a better chance of winning if Garoppolo — not rookie QB Trey Lance — is on the field. That’s fairly obvious.

Despite that, it still is an uphill battle for the Niners. The Packers are as healthy as they’ve been all season, and Aaron Rodgers is likely the league MVP for a second straight season. It’s no surprise Green Bay opened as a 4.5-point favorite at most sportsbooks. The matchup, paired with the Garoppolo injury concern, led to heavy public betting that steamed the line up to Green Bay -6 as of Thursday afternoon with more than 70% of the tickets and money on the Packers.

Those bettors should beware, though, given how much success Garoppolo has had when catching points. ESPN Chalk’s David Payne Purdum shared the following stat Thursday about Garoppolo’s impressive career record as an underdog.

That’s obviously pretty impressive, but it also requires some context. Since it’s Garoppolo’s entire career, it dates back to his time with the New England Patriots, too. Having spent his entire career playing for Shanahan and Belichick, two innovative coaches in their own respective ways, has certainly benefited Garoppolo.

Put another way: When you play for good teams with good coaches, as long as the quarterback doesn’t screw it up, you’re probably going to win a lot — even when you’re not expected to.

Garoppolo typically isn’t called on to win games himself, either. Per radar360’s database, the QB is averaging 24 pass attempts per game in those contests where his team is the underdog. For his career, he averages 30 pass attempts per game. It’s part of the reason it’s so hard to determine his value to a point spread.

Obviously, a bulk of that sample size is from the regular season, but when you isolate the playoffs, Garoppolo feels like less of a sure thing. He’s been the underdog twice in his playoff career. The first was Super Bowl LIV, when he completed 20 of 31 passes for 219 yards with a pair of interceptions in the 49ers’ loss to the Kansas City Chiefs as 1.5-point underdogs. The second was last week in Dallas, where he threw just 25 times for 172 yards and an interception as the 49ers held on for a win.

In two games as the favorite, he threw the ball 27 times — combined. That includes his 6-of-8 performance in the 2019 NFC Championship that the 49ers won 37-20 over the Packers while running it 42 times for 285 yards.

And, of course, for every stat or trend that points you in one direction, there’s something to point you in the other direction. Like, for instance, Aaron Rodgers’ success in the cold.

The 49ers’ running game and defense have the potential to give the Packers fits this weekend, which could make them a live underdog in Lambeau Field. If that’s the case, it’s likely because Garoppolo stays out of the way, protects the football and manages the San Francisco offense. His teams certainly fare well in these situations, and while it might not be because of him, there’s something to be said for his teams not losing for the same reason.

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