Philadelphia Eagles (4-7) at New England Patriots (10-1)
The Eagles have lost their last 2 games by a combined score of 90-31, dropping them out of 1st place in the weak NFC East and raising questions about whether or not head coach Chip Kelly will return next season. However, the fact that the Eagles are coming off of back-to-back blowout losses is actually good news for their chances to cover this week, as counterintuitive as that might seem. Teams are 49-32 ATS since 2002 off of back-to-back losses of 20 points or more.
It makes sense if you think about it. Teams tend to be undervalued, overlooked, and embarrassed off of such a poor stretch. They might not be overlooked by a New England team that is 33-16 ATS off of a loss in Tom Brady’s starts throughout his career, but they could definitely be embarrassed and I do think they’re undervalued. It also hurts the Patriots that they lost in overtime on the road, as those types of losses tend to be tougher to bounce back from. Teams are 30-57 ATS since 2002 off of a road overtime loss, unless they are road underdogs, which the Patriots aren’t this week.
Going back to the Eagles being undervalued, they are 9.5 point underdogs this week in New England. The Patriots rank 4th in rate of moving the chains differential, while the Eagles rank 24th, but the Patriots are too banged up to be favored by this many points against the Eagles. The reason they are is because the public thinks the Eagles are awful, which isn’t true. I love fading the public whenever it makes sense and they’re on the Patriots here. I think fading makes sense. The Patriots are missing running back Dion Lewis, wide receiver Julian Edelman, and tight end Rob Gronkowski with injury.
The Gronkowski injury is the newest and the biggest of the bunch. In games where Gronk plays over the past 5 years (since Gronk’s 2011 breakout year), Tom Brady completes 65.1% of his passes for an average of 7.81 YPA, 142 touchdowns, and 37 interceptions, including playoffs. When Gronk doesn’t play, over that stretch of time, Brady completes 58.1% of his passes for an average of 6.84 YPA, 30 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. That’s a significant dropoff in production and there’s enough sample size on both sides to confidently attribute a lot of the difference in Brady’s production to the big tight end. Linebacker Jamie Collins is expected back from a 4 game absence this week, but fellow linebacker Dont’a Hightower could be out. The Eagles, meanwhile, get quarterback Sam Bradford and left tackle Jason Peters back from injury, both of whom were missed over the past 2 games, particularly the latter, one of the top left tackles in the NFL.
It also helps the Eagles that they’re in their 2nd of two road games. Teams are 125-91 ATS as road underdogs off a road loss since 2008, including 102-62 ATS when it’s their 2nd of 2 road games. Historically, teams cover at about a 65% rate in that situation. This is because teams tend to do better in their 2nd straight road game than their first one, but lines don’t really adjust for this. Teams are 218-218 straight up in their 2nd of two road games since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 0.44 points per game, as opposed to 307-428 straight up in their 1st of one road game since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 2.93 points per game. I like the Eagles this week, but could only put money on them if the line moved to 10. About 6% of games are decided by exactly 10 points and the Patriots are just 7-12 ATS as double digit home favorites since 2009.
New England Patriots 24 Philadelphia Eagles 17
Pick against the spread: Philadelphia +9.5