Eagles vs. Raiders: Breaking down the Odds

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Looking at this week's betting lines.

Technical difficulties prevented my from posting this feature at the end of last week (as is typically the case). As a result, today's breakdown isn't as in depth as usual (analysis was, but the write-up isn't.) However, I wanted to make sure to get it in here for tracking purposes, and to give you guys a chance to weigh in, either in the poll or comments.

Last week was brutal. I missed both the O/U and the spread for the first time this season. On the plus side, it didn't result from a complete misread of the game. I mentioned that last week's odds really came down to how healthy you felt Vick was. Unfortunately, I chose to trust Chip. I won't make that mistake again (when it comes to injuries).

Before I get to this week's matchup, there's an important point to make. The Eagles are currently an extremely unpredictable team. Football Outsiders has them ranked 31st in the league in Variance (ahead of Houston), meaning they've shown wild swings in performance. This isn't necessarily a bad thing for bettors (high-variance teams can be valuable underdog picks for example), but for most casual fans, it makes it very difficult to handicap the game. That's not meant to be a hedge or explanation for my lesser performances, it comes with the territory. For everyone else though, you should know that there are some "easier" teams to bet, if you're actually looking to earn a return (not that anyone here is actually betting money for any reason).

Now...this week's game.

According to the SBNation Odds page, the Eagles opened as 2.5 point favorites. However, since then, the line has shifted significantly. At Bovada, the Eagles are now 3 point UNDERDOGS.

The Over/Under has also shifted, moving from 43 to either 45 or 45.5 depending on your source. Bovada's is 45.5.

The Spread

Similar to last week, this game really comes down to how you feel about the Eagles quarterback. If you think Nick Foles repeats his last performance (against the Cowboys), then you've got to feel pretty good about taking the Raiders. Oakland's defense ranks slightly better than Dallas, coming in at 20th overall in DVOA (Dallas is 21st).

If you believe Foles is more likely to play like he did against the Bucs (currently the 16th ranked defense by DVOA), then the odds are much better taking the points.

The question, of course, is what happens if we get a game from Foles that falls somewhere between those two marks (the overwhelmingly likely scenario).

To date, the Eagles have been the slightly better team. They're ranked 5 spots higher than the Raiders in Team DVOA. The Raiders are 3-1 at home, but the Eagles are 3-1 on the road. The Eagles' biggest weakness has been pass defense, but passing offense is also the Raiders biggest weakness (ranked 30th by DVOA). Both Special Teams units have been relatively bad, so no big advantage there.

From a distance, this looks like a relatively even matchup, though I'd say it tilts ever so slightly towards the Eagles (explains the opening line).

When the teams are even, take the points. The fact that I can get a full field goal from Bovada is a big deal. I think the general public is overreacting to the Eagles recent performances, ignoring the fact that Matt Barkley was the main culprit from last week. They're also likely overweighting Nick Foles' last performance.

In general, then the line moves significantly, it's best to go the other way. People are prone to overreaction; you should be ready and willing to capitalize.

The Over Under

45.5 at Bovada. In a "normal" situation, I'd grab the over in a heartbeat. The Raiders have a middling defense, and the Eagles have a bad defense. Meanwhile, the Eagles offense should still be considered "good", regardless of what you've read from the national pundits. Here, of course, we have to again discuss the Nick Foles factor. If we think it's a fairly even game, then we have to assume that to hit the over, each team will have to score 22-23 points.

Can the Eagles do that? Absolutely, but not if Foles really has forgotten how to play football.

I don't think that's the case. I think the Eagles can be counted on for 24-28 points today, meaning we have to trust the Raiders would have to put up at least 17 to make the over viable. Against the Eagles defense, that's doable, but it's not the cinch it was earlier in the season. Since the Denver game, the Eagles have given up 21, 20, 17, and 15 points. The Oakland offense ranks similarly to both the Bucs and Giants, meaning we're right on the edge as far as how many points we can expect.

Throw in the Terrelle Pryor factor, and I'm inclined to bump the expectations a bit. That means we're looking something in the 46-48 point range, which is not nearly enough of a difference to make me confident in taking a side.

I'd stay away from this one, but if you're going, I think the over offers SLIGHTLY better odds.

Last note

So we're left with the Eagles +3 and the Over 45.5, though I don't think the O/U is an attractive option. Note, at Bovada, the +3 is paying off at -125, meaning you're betting 10 to win 8. If you through the O/U in with a 6 point teaser, you can bump that to around -110, meaning you get 9 for a bet of 10. As I said, I think there's too much risk with this O/U (and the Eagles' high-variance nature) to make that a worthwhile bet, but remember that it's an option.

If you're much more confident in Nick Foles or believe strongly in the O/U in one direction or the other, take the teaser.

You can follow me @EaglesRewind

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