Congratulations if you followed my advice from last week, both the Eagles pick and the Over hit.
That was about as easy as it gets (at least regarding the spread).
As I explained, that line made no sense once you actually broke the teams down, and the game ultimately reflected that. The Eagles played OK, and still covered by a large margin. Hopefully, you went the extra step and took my suggestion to bet the alternative line (pick'em). Regardless, it's time to come back to reality, because this week is a lot tougher.
From SBNation.com/nfl/odds, we see that, as of this writing, the current game lines are:
Eagles -1 to -2, depending on the site.
O/U of 45.5 or 46, again depending on the site.
Let's attack the spread first.
Simply put, I don't like it. There are a lot of moving parts and unknowns. Among the most obvious, of course, is the fact that the QBs will likely be Nick Foles and Mike Glennon. As far as I'm concerned, that's a big advantage for the Eagles. HOWEVER, I'd be kidding myself if I placed much confidence in that notion. The sample sizes on each player are small (barely a sample at all for Glennon), meaning as much as we want to read into what we've seen, we have to discount that significantly.
Beyond that, the teams match up evenly in the statistics I tend to favor:
- The Eagles rank 21st overall in Football Outsiders' DVOA rankings.
- The Bucs rank 22nd
- If we look at the offense/defense, the teams are nearly mirror images of one another. The Eagles Offense ranks 5th by DVOA, the Bucs Defense ranks 3rd. Conversely, the Eagles Defense ranks 29th while the Bucs Offense ranks 30th.
- The Eagles rank worse on STs, but the Bucs also fair poorly, largely mitigating any potential advantage.
- Both teams have similar Point Differentials (-24 for the Eagles, -26 for the Bucs), though the Bucs have played one less game.
- The Bucs haven't won a game yet, but they've also played a difficult schedule (Jets, Saints, Patriots, Cardinals). In fact, Football Outsiders has the Bucs as a "true" 1.8 win team thus far. So they're not quite as bad as their record indicates.
Putting it all together, we've got a great offense (Eagles) versus a great defense (Bucs) on one side, and a bad offense (Bucs) against a bad defense (Eagles) on the other. Like I said, evenly matched. So why are the Eagles road favorites?
Well first let's note that the line opened at Eagles +1, so the action has shifted heavily in favor of the Eagles. This could be the result of last week's "big" win, or it could be the result of people selling the Glennon Era (likely). Personally, I think the Glennon factor accounts for nearly the entire difference in what we should expect the spread to be (something like Eagles +1 to +3) and what it is.
Where does that leave us?
Well I certainly don't want to bet on a rookie QB (of dubious pedigree) in just his second game for a winless team. On the other side, I'm not too confident in betting on Nick Foles on the road against a great defense and a team coming off a bye. Gun to my head? I'm taking the Eagles. However, I've got a better idea, which I'll explain in a minute.
Again, this particular matchup makes prognosticating difficult. For anyone who's watched the Eagles this year, that line looks extremely attractive. The Eagles are 4-1 against the OU this year (hit the over 4 times), and the team, by itself, is averaging 27 points per game (and allowing 31.8).
Unfortunately, we've now got a new QB to account for as well as a great defense. Against KC, the toughest defense they've played so far, the Eagles only scored 16 points. A similar performance, coupled with the Bucs' offensive ineptitude, would make 45.5 points nearly impossible to hit.
I have to note that the Eagles defense is still terrible. However, Mike Glennon. The Bucs definitely have weapons (V-Jax, Doug Martin, Mike Williams), but the QB play has been so atrocious that they haven't been able to make a difference. My guess is the Bucs put some points on the board, but not many; something in the 14-24 range.
That means the Eagles have to put up more than 3 TDs to hit the over. Definitely possible, but likely? How about 4 TDs and a FG, which is what we'd need for the over if the Bucs score 14?
Doesn't leave you to confident, does it?
So what do we do?
If I HAVE to bet this game, I'm staying away from the base lines. Instead, I'm teasing the Eagles to +5 and moving the OU UP to 51.5. That leaves me feeling a little better, though it obviously means you need to hit two outcomes to win the bet.
Straight up, I'd take the Eagles and the Under, but as I said, I don't feel confident about that at all. If you want to go at this game, take the teaser and move the lines. Note, though, that with this much uncertainty, it's probably a good week to take a pass on the whole thing.
As always, you can follow me @EaglesRewind