Note: This line opened at Packers -4.5. 1.5 points is a big shift, especially with the Eagles coming off a really impressive win. It looks like the Packers hype-train is just about full, which means we should look very closely for signs the team might be overrated.
Reviewing last week:
That's more like it. 4-0 over the last two weeks, though my projection for this game wasn't nearly as close as last week's. Of course, it was pretty clear going into the game that the Eagles were a much better team, the only question was how large the win would be. Sanchez played a much better game than I expected, and the Eagles ST scored another TD. All in all a great win. As a reminder, winning by very large margins over bad teams is a really good indicator of team quality. With big wins over the Jaguars, Giants, and Panthers, the Eagles are looking really good on that front.
This week's game:
Well...it had to happen sometime. The Eagles defense gets its toughest test, by far, since week 2 against the Colts. Aaron Rodgers is arguably the best QB in the league (and on his way to one of the greatest careers ever, as I've discussed before), and the Eagles are still starting Nate Allen on defense. Before we get to the DVOA numbers and breakdowns, let's take a quick look at what the Packers have done so far.
The Packers are 6-3 on the year, averaging 30.8 ppg and allowing 22.8 ppg. The team's wins have come against the Jets, Bears, Vikings, Dolphins, Panthers, and Bears (again). On the other hand, the Packers have lost games against the Seahawks, Lions, and Saints.
The only win that looks somewhat impressive is against Miami (6-4), a road game the Packers won by a field goal. When we take a look at the losses, though, things look even better for the Eagles. Although all three losses were on the road, the margins of 20, 12, and 21 points should dispel any notion that the Packers are a great team.
As everyone here knows, the Eagles largest lost was just 5 points, on the road against the 49ers.
The DVOA Breakdown
Eagles Overall: 19.9% (5th)
Packers Overall: 21.3% (3rd)
Eagles Offense: -1.2% (17th)
Packers Defense: -0.7% (11th)
Packers Offense: 20.6% (2nd)
Eagles Defense: -10.6% (6th)
On STs, the Eagles, obviously, are in first overall. The Packers have a STs DVOA of 0, placing them 15th in the league.
As I mentioned, this will likely be the best offense the Eagles face all year. Much will depend upon the defense's ability to prevent big plays.
The only opponent in common is the Panthers. The Eagles beat them last week, at home, by a score of 45-21. The Packers also beat the Panthers at home, by a score of 38-17.
Those results are really close, so while that doesn't help us in picking a winner overall, it does suggest these two teams are similarly skilled, which certainly calls into question the size of the spread.
The Eagles have not played an offense as good as the Packers. Green Bay ranks second in the league, just behind Denver. The closest the Eagles have seen was in week 2 against the Colts. In that game, the Eagles allowed 27 points. On the season, the Eagles are allowing an average of 22 ppg. Obviously, we should expect the Packers to exceed that by a fair amount.
Among Packers opponents, the Eagles defense ranks most similarly to Seattle (just better) and a bit worse than Miami. Against those teams, the Packers scored 16 and 27 points. Both of those games were on the road. Combining it all, I'm setting the Packers scoring expectation at 27-30 points. That Seattle data point is a tough one to incorporate, but given the agreement among the others, I'm assigning it very little weight. The Packers are averaging 30.8 points per game, but have played a number of good defenses. Therefore, expecting them to score just below their average seems reasonable.
The Packers defense ranks most similarly (a little bit better) to Jacksonville and Houston. Against those teams, the Eagles scored 34 and 31 points, though Jacksonville was a home game.
On the flip side, among Packers opponents, the Eagles offense ranks most similarly to Chicago (a little worse) and Miami (just better than Chicago). Against the Bears, the Packers allowed just 17 (road) and 14 (home) points. Against the Dolphins, the Packers allowed 24 points (road). That's bad for the Eagles. In fact, the Packers have played 4 games at home this season and in those games have only allowed 20+ points once (Jets scored 24). However, the Eagles haven't scored less than 20 points all season.
Putting it all together, that puts us in the 21-25 point range. However, we haven't accounted for STs. While normally not a big factor, the Eagles unit has been so good, especially in the return game, that its foolish not to adjust. Given that the Packers are mediocre in Punting DVOA and relatively bad in Kicking DVOA, I'm bumping the Eagles offense a full 2 points. That moves us to 23-27 points for the Eagles.
If we combine our projections, we get a range of Pick'em to Packers +7. With the line at Packers -6, it's pretty clear we should take the Eagles with the points.
On the over/under side, or combined projections give us a range of 50 - 57 points. The line is 55. Three of my four losses on the over/under this season came from taking the under. In fact, I made a point of saying if it's anywhere close we should take the over. However, 55 points is a really high line, and our range says there's more value in the under. So that's the play.
Wrapping up, this looks like a tough game for the Eagles, but 6 points is too large a line. The Packers aren't as good as they seemed against the Bears, and might not have beaten a good team yet (depending on your evaluation of Miami). Given the movement in the line towards the Packers, I think there's a really good chance the team is being overrated at the moment. Look for a close game, in which case a single play might determine the final outcome.