Dec 082012
 

Philadelphia Eagles (3-9) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-6)

All of the trends say the Eagles are in a good spot this week and should cover. Road dogs off a road loss are 85-48 ATS since 2008 and the Eagles are dogs here in Tampa Bay after losing in Dallas last week. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers are in what’s known as the sandwich game, meaning they are favorites after losing as dogs and before being dogs again. They lost in Denver last week as dogs and will go to New Orleans next week. Teams tend to take the sandwich game lightly, as a breather, going 59-84 ATS in this spot since 2008.

Meanwhile for the Eagles, teams that lose 5+ straight are 60-35 ATS since 2002 off a loss by 8 or fewer. For whatever reason, teams on long losing streaks tend to cover after almost breaking through and winning a game. Andy Reid also does well as road dogs in his career, going 38-21 ATS in this situation, including 10-3 ATS as dogs of a touchdown or more. This includes a cover in Dallas last week.

That being said, I can’t take the Eagles here. Remember how they were playing before the Carolina and Dallas game? They looked like they had absolutely quit. They did a good job of playing for pride in two nationally televised games, including one in which they were big divisional dogs and one in which they were home dogs to a previously 2-8 team. This week, they aren’t on national TV and they have no real reason to try hard here against Tampa Bay, who is desperate for a win to remain in the playoff hunt. Philadelphia had their best effort of the season last week and nearly pulled the upset in Dallas. That was their Super Bowl. They probably won’t give nearly that level of effort this week. Their secondary blows numerous coverages and allows numerous big plays per game and that’s what Josh Freeman thrives on.

Meanwhile, we’re getting line value with the Buccaneers. They rank 11th in net points per drive at 0.29, while Philadelphia ranks 28th at -0.49. If we take the difference, multiply by 11 (the average amount of drives per game per team), and add 3 points for home field advantage, we get that the Buccaneers should be favored by about 11.5 points, which makes sense since the Cowboys were 10 point favorites last week and almost covered (the Eagles covered on a very late punt returner). The Cowboys aren’t better than the Buccaneers. I know they won when they played earlier this year, but it was close in Dallas and Tampa Bay is a completely different team now.

That line holds up against DVOA, which ranks Tampa Bay 13th and Philadelphia 27th, including 12th and 28th respectively in weighted DVOA. I like to compare that to net points per drive for confirmation because DVOA is net points per drive based, but takes into account things like strength of schedule. That line makes sense because the Buccaneers are better than their 6-6 record. Not only have they been playing better football in general since the bye (I don’t knock them too much for losses to Atlanta and Denver), but they have a +48 points differential which is much better than their record. That’s good for 9th in the NFL and 5th in the loaded NFC.

That’s because they haven’t lost a single game by more than 8 points and they have 4 wins by double digits. I think they get their 5th here. It’s only a small play though because of the trends, which all favor Philadelphia, but I really don’t think they’ll give a crap. I’ve lost a lot of big plays this year betting on the Eagles when all the trends are on their side. Trends don’t too a ton of a good when a team has quit and aside from the last 2 weeks, when they had a reason to give a crap, they have quit.

Public lean: Tampa Bay (60% range)

Sharps lean: TB 8 PHI 8

Final thoughts: No change.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31 Philadelphia Eagles 17

Pick against spread: Tampa Bay -7.5 (-110) 1 unit

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