What better time to check in on the over/under bets, voted on by you (yes, you), than the halfway point of the season? The Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles’ 2018 campaign hasn’t exactly gone the way most of us thought it would, but with that in mind, let’s see exactly where we were too high or too low.
Carson Wentz - 3,800 Passing Yards
Result: 63% Under - Pace: 4,172
Wentz has topped last years’ average of 253.3 yards per game and 7.5 yards per attempt with a healthy 298.0 and 7.9 in 2018. Aiding him in this is his 70.7% completion rate, significantly up from last years’ 60.2%. In half of his games since his return, Wentz has thrown for over 300 yards.
They’ll need more of the same in the second half of the season if they don’t find a consistent contributor from the running back group.
Carson Wentz - 27 Touchdowns
Result: 53% Under - Pace: 30
There was good reason to believe that Wentz’s league leading 7.5% touchdown rate would regress, and it has, but that doesn’t mean Wentz himself has regressed. He still ranks in the top half of the league in that regard (5.8%) and after a rusty start against the Indianapolis Colts, he’s stormed the box score.
Just an insane throw from Carson Wentz while being wrangled, all arm, 20 yards in the air - pic.twitter.com/qW7bD71rxJ— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) October 29, 2018
In 2018, Wentz has thrown 13 touchdowns in 6 games and is on a 5-game streak with multiple touchdowns. The Eagles have yet to hit their full stride in the red zone but the needle is moving in a positive direction. It looks like the consensus will be proven wrong in a tight vote.
Carson Wentz - 10.5 Interceptions
Result: 82% Under - Pace: 5
The consensus looks to be dead on with this one. Other than a couple slips in judgement, Wentz has kept the ball out of harms way when he puts it in there air. He currently owns a streak of 23 games without a multi-interception game. The last one came on December 4th, 2016 in a 3-interception game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Go back and watch that game and you see an entirely different quarterback than the one you see now.
What is concerning is his 7 fumbles in 6 games and career high 8.5% sack rate. Part of that is obviously on the offensive line, but if there’s one major thing to clean up in his game it’s his propensity for not protecting the ball in the pocket.
Nelson Agholor - 750 yards
Result: 82% Over - Pace: 744
Nelson Agholor - 5 Touchdowns
Result: 83% Over - Pace: 2
Expectations were high for Agholor entering the 2018 season and to this point he has under performed those expectations. I still hold Agholor in high regard and have argued that his role will open up with more downfield targets with the addition of Golden Tate, but that remains to be seen.
DOUBLE CLUTCH- Wentz doing Wentz things & Agholor w/the extra effort. Key conversion on the game-winning drive. pic.twitter.com/1alzb4bKAQ— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) September 24, 2018
One area that makes his touchdown over unlikely is his inside-the-20 use, which still may see limited use as he shares targets with red zone monsters Alshon Jeffery and Zach Ertz hogging market share. Last year Agholor was targeted 18 times (t-12th) in the red area with 13 receptions (5th), leading to 4 of his 8 touchdowns. This year he’s only seen 6 targets for 3 catches and a lone touchdown.
I believe the addition of Tate helps free up Agholor for more intermediate work, but I wouldn’t make that same argument in regard to red zone work.
Zach Ertz - 850 yards
Result: 69% Over - Pace: 1,288
Zach Ertz - 6.5 Touchdowns
Result: 81% Over - Pace: 6
Ertz’s elite route running and mental processing have been on full display this year and it’s led to a blistering pace in the yards column. It remains to be seen if the addition of Tate waters down those numbers, but he’s approximately 200 yards from hitting the over with 8 games left.
All three of Ertz’s touchdowns have come in the red zone, where he leads the team with 14 targets, 7 touchdowns, and is second to Jeffery with 3 touchdowns. It’s not important if he hits the over; enemy defenses are aware of the threat he presents and often pour resources into bracketing him when the field condenses. This opens things up for the other threats and is a net positive overall.
Fletcher Cox - 6 Sacks
Result: 78% Over - Pace: 8
So far the consensus is crushing this one just as much as Cox is crushing this season. He might not get the hardware he desires, but Cox’s 4 sacks and 49 pressures have cemented him as a top tier player at his position. If Timmy Jernigan returns sooner than later, it will likely lower Cox’s snap count but help him fresh through the fourth quarter. That hasn’t been much of an issue to this point, but as the season wears on it will only benefit him.
Fletcher Cox had another day; a sack here and 6 pressures. Tied for the most pressures in the league (13) for IDL (per PFF) - pic.twitter.com/WBNJ16leTs— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) September 18, 2018
Michael Bennett - 7 Sacks
Result: 74% Under - Pace: 7
Registering 36 pressures and 3.5 sacks, Bennett has proven to be a key contributor on a front that needed his versatility. Capable of rushing inside and outside while being a master of stunts, Bennett has provided the juice as a chess piece every week. He’s hit over 7 sacks four times in his career and I would not be surprised if he proves the consensus wrong in this case, which is a win for everybody.
Brandon Graham - 7 Sacks
Result: 66% Over - Pace: 3
Graham ranks a healthy 8th in the league among defensive linemen with 38 pressures, which puts him in company with Myles Garrett, Danielle Hunter, and Von Miller. The problem has been the final, crucial act of bring down the quarterback.
Part of this has to do with the time in which enemy quarterbacks are releasing the ball. Per Pro Football Focus, only once this season have the Eagles played a quarterback (Blake Bortles, who was sacked 4 times) that held onto the ball for an average longer than 2.4 seconds. To put that in perspective, the quickest average in the league for any quarterback is Sam Bradford at 2.31 (because of course) and 2.40 would rank 4th quickest overall.
That doesn’t necessarily absolve Graham for his lack of finishing entirely, but it does provide context as to a contributing reason why. The bigger concern is if he’s lost a step, which would facilitate a lack of closing speed. It’s something to track as his finishes the last year of his current contract.
Eagles - 10.5 Wins
Result: 80% Over - Pace: 8
The slow start for the Eagles has been frustrating for all involved, but a win before the bye and two key losses by the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys have kept the NFC East door ajar. Getting to the over would require a 7-1 run, but more important right now is the 5 divisional games on the docket.