Carolina Panthers at Philadelphia Eagles: 2018 Week 7 NFL Pick

Carolina Panthers (3-2) at Philadelphia Eagles (3-3)

The Eagles got off to a disappointing 2-3 start, but it was clear they could easily turn it around. Those three losses came by a combined 11 points, with the Eagles winning the first down rate battle in two of them, and they still had one of the most talented teams in the league on paper. Last week, the Eagles looked much more like their Super Bowl team from 2017, blowing out the Giants 34-13 in New York on Thursday Night Football. Despite the slow start, the Eagles rank 4th in first down rate differential at +5.17% overall on the season, so they could easily go on a big run.

That big victory shifted this line significantly, as the Eagles were mere 3-point favorites on the early line in this home game against the Panthers and are now 4.5-point favorites, a big line movement, considering about 1 in 5 games are decided by 3 or 4 points. That being said, I think we’re still getting some line value with the Eagles, who are significantly better than a middling Panthers team that ranks 15th in first down rate differential at +1.50% and 10th in my roster rankings. I have this line calculated at Philadelphia -7, so the Eagles are worth a bet.

Philadelphia Eagles 27 Carolina Panthers 20

Pick against the spread: Philadelphia -4.5

Confidence: Medium

Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants: 2018 Week 6 NFL Pick

Philadelphia Eagles (2-3) at New York Giants (1-4)

Last week, the Eagles were my Pick of the Week as 3-point home favorites against the Vikings. They lost by 2, but easily could have won. They had 2 more first downs and one more offensive touchdown than the Vikings on 6 fewer plays, a +9.03% first down rate differential, but lost because of a long defensive touchdown, a goal line fumble, and a bad roughing the passer call. As a result of that loss, the Eagles remain underrated.

Their record isn’t pretty, but they’re still a very talented group and they’re not exactly getting blown out, with their 3 losses coming by a combined 11 points. It’s not a stretch to say they could easily be 4-1 and if that were the case no one would have any concerns about them, especially with Carson Wentz continuing to round into form. The Eagles have also won the first down rate battle in 2 of those losses and have a +3.88% first down rate differential on the year, 7th in the NFL.

After briefly opening at -2.5, this line moved back to -3 in favor of the Eagles, as it was on the early line last week. Despite the lack of line movement, we are still getting good line value with the Eagles. I have this line calculated at -5.5, as the Giants are a mediocre opponent. Despite their record, the Eagles are at least comparable to the Jaguars and Saints, who have both already covered as road favorites in New York against the Giants. The Eagles should do so as well. This isn’t as big of a play as last week, but I will make this a bigger play if the line moves back down to -2.5. In some books, it’s available at -2.5 with higher juice.

Thursday Update: Lane Johnson was surprisingly added to the injury report Thursday morning with an ankle injury and is not expected to play tonight. That knocks my calculated line down to -4, but the line also dropped from 3 to 2 to compensate for Johnson’s absence, so this remains a medium confidence bet. The difference between 2 and 4 might not seem big at first, but only 4% of games are decided by 2 points or fewer, as opposed to 24% of games decided by 4 points or fewer. The Eagles should be able to win this one without Johnson and as mere 2-point favorites that’s basically all they need to do to cover.

Final Update: Johnson is surprisingly active for this one. The line has stayed put at 2 despite that, but I’m hesitant to raise my bet because I’m not sure if Johnson can make it through the whole game.

Philadelphia Eagles 24 New York Giants 19

Pick against the spread: Philadelphia -2

Confidence: Medium

Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles: 2018 Week 5 NFL Pick

Minnesota Vikings (1-2-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (2-2)

This game is a rematch of last year’s NFC Championship, with the Vikings returning to Philadelphia, where they lost 38-7 last year. The common narrative is that both teams have disappointed since then and that seems to be reflected in this line, as the Eagles are just 3 point favorites at home, suggesting that these two teams are about even, but the Eagles are much better positioned coming into this game.

The Vikings rank 23rd in first down rate differential at -2.15%, while the Eagles rank 7th at +2.95%. The Vikings’ secondary has surprisingly struggled and is now without starting cornerback Trae Wayne with a concussion, while their defensive line is not nearly the same with Everson Griffen out. A defense that suffered next to no injuries last season is showing it’s cracks. On offense, their passing game has been potent, but they’ve struggled to run the ball with Dalvin Cook in and out of the lineup with injuries and an offensive line that struggles to block.

The Eagles, meanwhile, haven’t played quite as well as they did last year, but Carson Wentz looks great in his return, which is the most important thing, now going into his 3rd straight start, and they could easily be 3-1 right now, after an overtime loss in Tennessee last week. If the Eagles were 3-1 right now, I think they’d be favored by at least 4.5 points, probably 6 points in this game. Even in a loss, the Eagles played well on the road against a solid team.

The Eagles are not fully healthy with running back Darren Sproles, defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan, safety Rodney McLeod, and defensive end Derek Barnett out, but they weren’t fully healthy last year either. They’ve also gotten running back Jay Ajayi and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery back from injury and overall still have one of the best rosters in the NFL. The Vikings are a solid team, but I have this line calculated at Philadelphia -7.5, so we’re getting great line value with the Eagles this week. My one concern with the Eagles is that they have to play the Giants again in 4 days on Thursday Night Football, but this is a much bigger game for them. Without another obvious choice this week, the Eagles are my Pick of the Week.

Philadelphia Eagles 31 Minnesota Vikings 23

Pick against the spread: Philadelphia -3

Confidence: Pick of the Week

Philadelphia Eagles at Tennessee Titans: 2018 Week 4 NFL Pick

Philadelphia Eagles (2-1) at Tennessee Titans (2-1)

Both of these teams are getting healthier. The Eagles got Carson Wentz back from an ACL tear last week, while his #1 receiver Alshon Jeffery looks likely to make his season debut this week, after off-season shoulder surgery. The Eagles are also getting Jay Ajayi back from a game and a half absence with a back injury, though their defense remains without Timmy Jernigan (out for the first 6 weeks on the PUP) and is now without safety Rodney McLeod with a knee injury, although replacement Corey Graham is experienced and has played well in limited action this season.

The Titans, meanwhile, got left tackle Taylor Lewan back last week from a one game absence with a concussion and his bookend right tackle Jack Conklin will make his season debut this week, after missing the first 3 games of the season recovering from an ACL tear. Lewan and Conklin have been arguably the best offensive tackle duo in the NFL when healthy. Marcus Mariota will also make his first start since week 1, though he did play last week after Blaine Gabbert got concussed.

Mariota might not be 100% with his elbow injury and he has never proven he can play well while hurt, but he should be improved over last week after a full week of practice and even at less than 100% he’s an improvement over Gabbert, especially with his full offensive line in front of him. The Titans’ defense has been strong so far this season, allowing the 6th lowest first down rate at 31.25%. If their offense can take a step forward now that they’re healthier (currently 30th in first down rate at 28.42%), the Titans could easily be a solid team going forward.

As 3.5 point home underdogs, I think we’re getting some line value with the Titans, who are also in a great spot with only a trip to Buffalo on deck. Home underdogs tend to cover before easy road games, going 36-18 ATS since 2012 before being road favorites. The Titans should be completely focused this week, while the Eagles may have one eye on an NFC Championship rematch with the Vikings next week. This isn’t a big play, but the Titans should be able to keep this one close at home.

Philadelphia Eagles 24 Tennessee Titans 23

Pick against the spread: Tennessee +3.5

Confidence: Medium

Indianapolis Colts at Philadelphia Eagles: 2018 Week 3 NFL Pick

Indianapolis Colts (1-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (1-1)

Last week, the Colts were 5.5 point underdogs in Washington. They ended up winning that game 21-9, and, as a result, they are now only 6.5 point underdogs in Philadelphia, even though the Eagles are significantly more talented than the Redskins and are getting Carson Wentz back from his ACL tear this week. The Colts outplayed a solid Redskins team last week, but the game was closer than the final score. The Redskins won the first down battle 20 to 17 and the Colts only had 3 scoring drives, but they were 3 for 3 converting red zone opportunities into touchdowns, while the Redskins were 0-2 and had to settle for 4 field goal attempts on the day (including a miss).

This line suggests the Colts are only 3.5 points worse than the Eagles, so I think this line is too short. The Colts look better now than they did two weeks ago, with Andrew Luck clearly healthy under center and the emergence of second round rookie linebacker Darius Leonard on defense, but they still have one of the worst rosters outside of the quarterback position in the league, especially with the injuries they currently have: left tackle Anthony Castonzo, defensive tackle Denico Autry, cornerback Quincy Wilson, tight end Jack Doyle, and running back Marlon Mack.

The Eagles aren’t healthy either, with wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Mike Wallace, running backs Jay Ajayi and Darren Sproles, and defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan all sidelined, but getting Wentz back could easily push this team back to their 2017 form in a hurry. They weren’t healthy last season either, with Jason Peters and Jordan Hicks injured, both of whom have returned, but they still were the top team in the NFC, which they should compete to be again in 2018. They should beat a mediocre AFC team by more than a touchdown. If Wentz was a little bit more of a sure thing in his first game back, this would be my Pick of the Week, but there’s enough line value here even if Wentz is at less than his best.

Philadelphia Eagles 31 Indianapolis Colts 20

Pick against the spread: Philadelphia -6.5

Confidence: High

Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 2018 Week 2 NFL Pick

Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0)

The Buccaneers pulled off the biggest upset of week 1, going into New Orleans and beating the reigning NFC South champs by 8 points as 10 point underdogs. How well 35-year-old backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick played in the absence of the suspended Jameis Winston was a big surprise, but it wasn’t a surprise that the Buccaneers were able to play the Saints competitively. Despite a tough schedule and despite Winston being out or limited with injury for half of the season, the Buccaneers were still better than their 5-11 record in 2017, going just 2-7 in games decided by 7 points or fewer and finishing 12th in first down rate differential at +1.13%. Before the Winston suspension, I considered the Buccaneers a sleeper in the NFC.

Last week’s win in New Orleans moved this line significantly, with the Eagles going from being 6 point favorites to 3.5 point favorites, which makes the Buccaneers a much less attractive bet. Fitzpatrick is no guarantee to continue playing well, given his age and history of inconsistency, and the Buccaneers are also missing their top-2 cornerbacks with both Brent Grimes and Vernon Hargreaves out with injury.

The Buccaneers also had a negative first down differential last week, despite the win (-2.54%). Their offense (50.00%) played well, but their defense was horrendous (52.54%). Nick Foles and the Eagles’ offense should find it much easier to move the ball this week than in their opener against the Falcons, especially given the Buccaneers’ injuries at cornerback. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers’ offense faces a much tougher test this week against the Eagles’ defense than last week in New Orleans and Fitzpatrick could easily regress. I’m still taking the Buccaneers for pick ‘em purposes, but there’s no line value with them at 3.5, so they’re not worth a bet.

Philadelphia Eagles 23 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20

Pick against the spread: Tampa Bay +3.5

Confidence: None

Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles: 2018 Week 1 NFL Pick

Atlanta Falcons (0-0) at Philadelphia Eagles (0-0)

I will keep this brief because I am doing this late, but you can click on the team name to see a preview of each team. I have the Eagles as my highest ranked team coming into the season and would likely have them favored by 4.5-5 points if they were at full strength. However, they will not have Carson Wentz, Alshon Jeffery, or Nigel Bradham in this game, which obviously hurts. This line is Atlanta -1, which is about where I’d have it, so we aren’t getting any real line value either way. I am taking the Eagles simply because defending champs tend to do well at home in week 1 Thursday Night games, going 9-3 ATS since 2004. I would not recommend betting this game though. I will have the rest of the week 1 picks on Friday and Saturday as usual.

Philadelphia Eagles 24 Atlanta Falcons 23 Upset Pick +100

Pick against the spread: Philadelphia +1

Confidence: None