New Orleans Saints (5-4) at Philadelphia Eagles (4-6)
I have thought the Eagles are underrated for several weeks and, despite their blowout win in Denver as 2.5-point underdogs last week, they remain underrated. They are just 4-6, but they have a +26 point differential that ranks 12th in the NFL, despite facing one of the toughest schedules in the league. All but one of the Eagles’ six losses have come to teams with a winning record, with the exception being a one-score loss to a 49ers team that has played significantly better than their record suggests.
In schedule adjusted offensive, defensive, and special teams efficiency, the Eagles rank 6th, 16th, and 22nd respectively and are even better than that suggests on offense, as they have played at a much higher level in recent weeks since getting their two offensive tackles Jordan Mailata and Lane Johnson back from extended early season absences. The Eagles’ four easiest games of the season (Lions, Falcons, Broncos, and Panthers) have all been victories, including three in blowout fashion, and the Saints fit much more with those teams than the teams that have beaten the Eagles, at least in the form the Saints are currently in.
The Saints are 5-4, but they are extremely short-handed on offense. Already without their top wide receiver Michael Thomas for the whole season, the Saints lost quarterback Jameis Winston for the season two weeks ago and now are without dominant feature back Alvin Kamara and their two stud offensive tackles Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramcyzk, who have all gone down in the past week or so. The Saints are healthier on defense than they were earlier in the season and have one of the best units in the league on that side of the ball, but their offense will hold them back significantly until they get at least some of their key players back.
This line shifted from an even line on the early line last week to favoring the Eagles by 2.5 points at home this week, but that’s a pretty insignificant shift, given that about 9% of games are decided by 2 points or fewer. With all of the Saints’ injury problems and the Eagles’ blowout win last week, this line should have shifted more and it was already too low to begin with. As a result, we are getting great line value with the Eagles, who I have calculated as touchdown favorites. The Eagles are my top pick this week and they should cover fairly easily in a game in which they essentially just need to win to cover.
Philadelphia Eagles 24 New Orleans Saints 17
Pick against the spread: Philadelphia -2.5
Confidence: Pick of the Week