Philadelphia Eagles at Cleveland Browns: 2020 Week 11 NFL Pick

Philadelphia Eagles (3-5-1) at Cleveland Browns (6-3)

This season has possibly been defined by all of the injury absences teams have had thus far and the Eagles have been among the most affected. However, last week coming out of their bye week, they were significantly healthier, with left tackle Jason Peters (4 games missed), wide receivers Alshon Jeffery (8 games) and Jalen Raegor (5 games), right tackle Lane Johnson (3 games), running back Miles Sanders (3 games), tight end Dallas Goedert (4 games), defensive tackles Malik Jackson (1 game) and Javon Hargrave (1 game), and linebacker TJ Edwards (3 games) all suiting up. 

The Eagles still lost in New York to the Giants, but the Giants are an underrated team with a capable offense that has been made to look bad by a brutal schedule, and the Eagles will be even healthier this week, with left guard Isaac Seumalo (7 games missed) also returning, giving the Eagles back three of their four missing starters from this offensive line. In their current state, I have the Eagles ranked 15th in my roster rankings. The general public may look at the Eagles’ loss to the Giants last week and think the Eagles being healthy again doesn’t matter and that they are still a below average team, which gives us some value with the Eagles.

This week, the Eagles go to Cleveland where they are field goal underdogs against a Browns team that is 6-3, but hasn’t looked good in the process. The Browns six wins have come by a combined 45 points, while their three losses have come by a combined 73 points, giving them a -28 point differential. The Browns are even worse in schedule adjusted first down rate differential, ranking 27th at -1.92%. 

It helps that the Browns have a capable offense (16th in first down rate over expected, despite missing key players like Wyatt Teller and Nick Chubb for an extended period of time) and that their problems are primarily on defense (27th in first down rate allowed over expected), because defensive play is much less consistent on a week-to-week basis. However, it’s hard to imagine the Browns being much better defensively this week than they’ve been because they’ll be missing easily their top defensive player Myles Garrett, which offsets the boost this offense got from Teller and Chubb returning last week. With the Eagles being as healthy as they’ve been all season, I have this line calculated at even, so we’re getting good value, getting the full field goal with the Eagles. The Eagles should be a smart play.

Philadelphia Eagles 24 Cleveland Browns 23 Upset Pick +130

Pick against the spread: Philadelphia +3

Confidence: High

Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants: 2020 Week 10 NFL Pick

Philadelphia Eagles (3-4-1) at New York Giants (2-7)

The Eagles had their bye last week and it couldn’t have come at a better time, as the Eagles will come out of their bye as healthy as they’ve been all season. Defensive tackles Malik Jackson (1 game missed) and Javon Hargrave (1 game), linebacker TJ Edwards (3 games), left tackle Jason Peters (4 games), wide receivers Alshon Jeffery (8 games) and Jalen Raegor (5 games), right tackle Lane Johnson (3 games), running back Miles Sanders (3 games), tight end Dallas Goedert (4 games), and possibly left guard Isaac Seumalo (6 games) are all suiting up this week. 

The Eagles haven’t been terrible all things considered this season and, now as healthy as they’ve been, they rank 16th in my roster rankings and have a good chance to be at least competitive going forward if they can stay healthy. On top of that, even injuries aside, the bye week will be beneficial for this team just for rest purposes. Teams typically do pretty well as significant road favorites out of a bye, going 76-41-1 ATS since 1989 as road favorites of 3+ after a bye week, and the Eagles fit the trend as 4-point favorites in New York against the Giants this week.

Unfortunately, we’re not getting any line value with the Eagles at -4 because the Giants are an underrated team, particularly on offense, where they rank 14th in first down rate over expected at +0.72%. That may seem surprising, but it makes sense when you take a deeper look, as the Giants actually only rank 27th in first down rate at 2.50% below average, but have faced a brutal schedule that suggests they should have been 3.22% below average, so the Giants are actually beating expectations. Of their 9 games, 7 have come against top-10 defenses, the WFT twice (1st), the Buccaneers (2nd), the Steelers (3rd), the Rams (4th), the Bears (7th), and the 49ers (10th). 

The Giants might not be quite as good as the 14th best offense in the league and they aren’t on paper in my roster rankings, but it’s very possible they’re a capable offense that has been made to look bad by a brutal defensive schedule. They’ve also been better in recent weeks since getting wide receiver Sterling Shepard back from injury. In my roster rankings, I have them just 2.5 points behind the Eagles overall, which gives us a calculated line of Philadelphia -2 (half point for the Giants being at home with no fans) rather than -4. I’m still taking the Eagles for pick ‘em purposes out of their bye week, but this is a no confidence pick.

Philadelphia Eagles 25 New York Giants 20

Pick against the spread: Philadelphia -4

Confidence: None

Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles: 2020 Week 8 NFL Pick

Dallas Cowboys (2-5) at Philadelphia Eagles (2-4-1)

I can’t remember a team ever falling in my rankings as fast as the Cowboys. Going into the season, I had pretty high expectations for the Cowboys, who finished last season 6th in point differential at +113 and 5th in first down rate differential at +3.24%, but missed the playoffs at 8-8 because of an 0-5 record in games decided by one score or less. With a similar roster entering the season as last year, the Cowboys looked like one of the better teams in the league, but now the Cowboys rank dead last in my roster rankings. 

Injuries have been a big part of the problem, especially on offense, where the Cowboys are missing their dominant offensive tackle duo of Tyron Smith and La’El Collins and are down to 3rd string quarterback Ben DiNucci, a 7th round rookie making his first career start this season, but the Cowboys also have a lot of players who aren’t injured that just aren’t playing up to expectations, especially on defense, where close to no one is having a good season in the first year of overmatched defensive coordinator Mike Nolan’s scheme. Some of those veteran players have already been benched, traded, or released, while others remain in the starting lineup, but have struggled mightily. 

Outside of their receiving corps and their edge rush duo of DeMarcus Lawrence and Aldon Smith, this team really doesn’t have much going for them and they will be starting one of the least qualified starting quarterbacks the NFL has seen over the past few years. The per play stats show the Cowboys to have been better than their record and final scores have suggested, but much of that is due to an offense that was much better before injuries and primarily only struggled with fumbles, which tend to be fluky. Now without Dak Prescott, Andy Dalton, and others, this offense has plenty of problems beyond their fumbling tendencies, while their defense continues to struggle even as they’ve gotten a few players back that were not available earlier this season, including linebackers Leighton Vander Esch and Sean Lee.

All that being said, I think we’re actually getting some value with the Cowboys this week. The Cowboys are 0-7 ATS on the season and when that happens the odds makers typically boost the spreads more than they should, knowing no one will want to bet on a consistent loser, which leads to those teams covering 62.3% of the time the rest of the way, including 75.0% of the time in their 8th game of the season. Case in point, the Cowboys are whopping 11-point underdogs against an Eagles team that isn’t even middling, ranking 21st in schedule adjusted first down rate differential and 23rd in my roster rankings, even with a couple players due back from injury this week. I have no desire to bet on the Cowboys, but my calculated line is Philadelphia -8 and Dallas should be the right pick if you have to make a pick for pick ‘em purposes.

Philadelphia Eagles 24 Dallas Cowboys 16

Pick against the spread: Dallas +11

Confidence: Low

New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles: 2020 Week 7 NFL Pick

New York Giants (1-5) at Philadelphia Eagles (1-4-1)

This is yet another uninteresting Thursday Night Football game the NFL has scheduled, although it’s understandable how the NFL thought this might be an interesting game, as it’s a divisional game between a team that has been good in recent years and a team that some thought was up-and-coming. However, the Eagles were not as talented coming into this season as they’ve been in recent years and they’ve been decimated by injury, while the Giants have also had injury problems and have not seen their young players develop as expected, particularly second year quarterback Daniel Jones and rookie left tackle Andrew Thomas. As a result, both teams have just one win, although in the horrendous NFC East, that means they’re right in the thick of the race, making this a meaningful game, if not a particularly interesting one.

I don’t feel strongly on this game, but I do think this line is a little high at 4.5, as the Eagles are so banged up and shouldn’t be favored by this many points over anyone except the Jets. They’ll get right tackle Lane Johnson and wide receiver DeSean Jackson back this week, but they lose tight end Zach Ertz, running back Miles Sanders, and defensive tackle Malik Jackson and are still missing several other offensive linemen and pass catchers. My calculated line is Philadelphia -3 and I think the most likely result is the Eagles winning by a field goal, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they were able to win by more than that either. 

Philadelphia Eagles 23 New York Giants 20

Pick against the spread: NY Giants +4.5

Confidence: Low

Baltimore Ravens at Philadelphia Eagles: 2020 Week 6 NFL Pick

Baltimore Ravens (4-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (1-3-1)

The Ravens had a stinker of a performance at home against the Chiefs week 3, a 34-20 loss that was worse than the final score, as the Ravens got 11 points of benefit from their special teams, didn’t score an offensive touchdown until the 4th quarter, and lost the first down rate battle by 14.50%, but, despite that terrible game, the Ravens still rank 7th in the league in first down rate differential at +4.12%. Even more encouraging is the fact that the Ravens have been led by their defense, which was their more questionable side of the ball coming into their season, as their 4th ranked defense (33.63% first down rate allowed) has made up for an offense that actually ranks just 20th in the NFL in first down rate at 37.76%. 

The Ravens’ offense will almost definitely be better than that going forward, as they’re obviously more talented than that on paper, so, if their defense continues to play at a high level, the Ravens have a good chance to end up as the top ranked team in the league in first down rate differential again at the end of this season, after leading the league by a wide margin with a +8.87% rate last season (the 49ers were 2nd at +5.29%). Even with their relatively “slow” start to this season, the Ravens still have a +8.64% first down rate differential over their past 16 games, including that loss to the Chiefs and their playoff loss to the Titans last year, which also happen to be their only losses over that 16-game stretch. 

Even more impressive, of the Ravens’ 14 wins over that stretch, 12 of them have come by 14 points or more and in total they have a ridiculous +262 point differential over those 16 games, which would be the 4th best differential in a single 16-game season in NFL history if the Ravens had done it across a single season, rather than split between the two. My calculated line suggests this line is about right, favoring the Ravens by 9.5 points in Philadelphia, but that might be giving too much weight to that one loss to Kansas City and not enough weight to the Ravens’ tendency to blow teams out, particularly inferior opponents like the Eagles, who are in especially bad shape this week without injured right tackle Lane Johnson. This is a no confidence pick because we’re not getting real line value with the Ravens, but the Ravens should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes.

Baltimore Ravens 34 Philadelphia Eagles 24

Pick against the spread: Baltimore -9.5

Confidence: None

Philadelphia Eagles at Pittsburgh Steelers: 2020 Week 5 NFL Pick

Philadelphia Eagles (1-2-1) at Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0)

The Eagles got their first win of the season last week in San Francisco, but they were facing a very banged up 49ers team and got lucky that they won the turnover battle by 2 on a pair of terrible interceptions by 49ers backup quarterback Nick Mullens that swung what ended up being just a 5-point Eagles win. Turnover margins are highly inconsistent on a week-to-week basis anyway (the Eagles were -7 in the first 3 weeks of the season) and the Eagles lost the first down rate battle in that game by 6.10%, giving them a 29th ranked -5.19% first down rate differential on the season, despite the fact that they haven’t faced a particularly tough schedule.

This game in Pittsburgh is arguably the toughest game of the Eagles’ season so far. The Steelers are 3-0 and, though they haven’t been quite as good as their record, with their wins all being close and a 15th ranked first down rate differential on the season (+0.87%), their defense has still been one of the best in the league, ranking 5th with a 34.43% first down rate allowed, while their 26th ranked offense (35.29%) should be better going forward, especially with top offensive lineman David DeCastro healthy after missing the first two games of the season. 

Despite that, the Eagles are only touchdown underdogs in this game. I have this line calculated at Pittsburgh -10, as the Eagles are one of the worst teams in the league and are 8.5 points behind the Steelers in my roster rankings, so we’re getting good line value with the Steelers. The Eagles are also in a tough spot as they have an even tougher game on deck at home against the Ravens. Big upcoming home games like that tend to serve as a distraction, as teams are 37-60 ATS since 2016 before being home underdogs of 6 or more. It’s even tougher for teams when it is back-to-back tough games, as teams are 51-73 ATS since 2016 as underdogs of 6 or more before being underdogs of 6 or more again the following week. I don’t love the Steelers, but they’re worth a bet at -7 and I’d consider a larger bet at 6.5. It’s going to be tough for the Eagles to keep this one close.

Pittsburgh Steelers 24 Philadelphia Eagles 13

Pick against the spread: Pittsburgh -7

Confidence: Medium

Philadelphia Eagles at San Francisco 49ers: 2020 Week 4 NFL Pick

Philadelphia Eagles (0-2-1) at San Francisco 49ers (2-1)

This has been an especially brutal year for injuries in the NFL, but it’s possible no team is as banged up on one side of the ball as the Eagles are on offense. On the offensive line, they were already without left tackle Andre Dillard, left guard Isaac Seumalo, and right guard Brandon Brooks and now they’ll also be without veteran Jason Peters, who was signed originally to replace Brooks at right guard and had been playing left tackle since Dillard went down. 

In the receiving corps, the Eagles are missing tight end Dallas Goedert and incredibly are without their top-4 wide receivers, leaving them with just two healthy wide receivers on the active roster (45 career catches between them), with the rest of the spots to be filled with practice squad players. The Eagles are much healthier on defense, but their offensive injuries are a major problem, especially since quarterback Carson Wentz is struggling independent of the problems around him. Overall, I have the Eagles just 26th in my roster rankings right now.

This week, the Eagles get to play a 49ers team that is also dealing with significant injury absences, including quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, running backs Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert, cornerbacks Richard Sherman, Akhello Witherspoon, and Emmanuel Mosley, linebacker Dre Greenlaw, and defensive ends Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, and Solomon Thomas, but the 49ers are still significantly more talented than the Eagles in their current state. They have one of the best backup quarterbacks in the league in Nick Mullens, fresh off an easy victory over the Giants in his first start of the season last week, and he’ll get a pair of valuable weapons back from injury this week in Deebo Samuel and George Kittle, though Samuel is expected to be limited. Overall, I have them 4.5 points better than the Eagles in my roster rankings.

Given that the 49ers are favored by a touchdown at home, where they’ll have minimal crowd noise, we aren’t really getting line value with them. The 49ers are in a much better spot though, for a couple reasons. For one, the Eagles could be exhausted after playing the Bengals to a tie last week and teams are understandably 9-17 ATS after a tie over the past thirty seasons. On top of that, while the Eagles have to turn around and go to Pittsburgh for another tough matchup next week, the 49ers have another easy game on deck at home against the Dolphins.

Favorites of 7+ are 102-59 ATS since 2012 before being favorites of 7+ again, while underdogs of 7+ are 55-90 ATS since 2012 before being underdogs of 7+ again. Combining the two, favorites of 7+ are 27-5 ATS since 2012 before being favorites of 7+ again when their opponent will be underdogs of 7+ again the following week. Good teams tend to take care of business against bad teams without upcoming distractions on their schedule, while bad teams tend to struggle to keep it close against good teams with another tough game on deck. All of those conditions should be true this week. There’s not quite enough here for the 49ers to be worth betting with this line being where it is, but they should be the right side.

San Francisco 49ers 21 Philadelphia Eagles 13

Pick against the spread: San Francisco -7

Confidence: Low

Cincinnati Bengals at Philadelphia Eagles: 2020 Week 3 NFL Pick

Cincinnati Bengals (0-2) at Philadelphia Eagles (0-2)

The Eagles’ season has gotten off to a terrible start, as not only are they 0-2, but they’re also tied with the Jets with the 2nd lowest first down rate differential in the league at -28. The Eagles were injury ravaged in week 1, missing right tackle Lane Johnson and defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, among others, but they still lost by double digits to a Washington team that is one of the worst in the league and then they got blown out at home by the Rams in week 2, even though Johnson and Hargrave had returned. Part of the problem has been their league worst -5 turnover margin, which is a metric that tends to be inconsistent week-to-week, but they also rank 26th in first down rate differential at -5.58%, so their issues go far beyond the turnover margin.

The Eagles should be better going forward, if only because Carson Wentz is unlikely to be one of the worst quarterbacks in the league all season, but even if he bounces back, this team has real weaknesses on both sides of the ball, as Wentz’s growing cap hit has made it tougher to them to keep talent at positions like linebacker, safety, and running back, while their offensive line is missing both starting guards due to injury and their receiving corps is banged up as well.

The Eagles face another 0-2 team this week, a less surprising 0-2 team as the Bengals are coming off a season in which they finished 2-14 and had the worst record in the league. The Bengals were better than that record suggested, with 8 of their losses coming by 8 points or fewer in 2019, primarily due to a defense that is better than you’d think, and their offense should be better this season with #1 overall pick Joe Burrow taking over under center and getting back top wide receiver AJ Green and left tackle Jonah Williams, who both missed all of 2019 with injury, but the Bengals are still unlikely to win many games and their defense has struggled early in the season, likely in large part due to the continued absence of defensive tackle Geno Atkins.

If the Eagles play like they have, the Bengals could steal this one in Philadelphia, especially with the Eagles having limited homefield advantage, but it also wouldn’t surprise me if the Eagles bounced back this week, with Carson Wentz likely to work through his issues at some point. I have this line calculated at Philadelphia -3, so we’re getting line value with the Bengals at +4.5, but not enough for them to be worth betting against a desperate Eagles team that is used to making playoff appearances.

Philadelphia Eagles 23 Cincinnati Bengals 20

Pick against the spread: Cincinnati +4.5

Confidence: Low

Los Angeles Rams at Philadelphia Eagles: 2020 Week 2 NFL Pick

Los Angeles Rams (1-0) at Philadelphia Eagles (0-1)

The Eagles lost in embarrassing fashion on the road in Washington last week, blowing a 17-0 lead in a 27-17 defeat against one of the worst teams in the league. That shifted this line pretty significantly, moving from Philadelphia -3.5 to a -1 in the wake of the Eagles’ defeat. That loss is definitely reason for some concern in Philadelphia, but they will get a big boost this week with right tackle Lane Johnson returning from injury. 

Johnson hasn’t been the most durable player in his career, but he’s been one of the best offensive linemen in football when on the field and that shows up in a significant way in Carson Wentz’s career splits (his QB rating is about 20 points higher with Johnson on the field). Johnson’s return is especially important because the Eagles are already without right guard Brandon Brooks for the season and had to re-sign 38-year-old Jason Peters to start at left tackle because expected left tackle Andre Dillard is out for the season as well. 

I don’t think this huge line shift fully takes into account the impact that Johnson’s absence had against Washington and the impact that his return will have this week. The Eagles will also get running back Miles Sanders and defensive tackle Javon Hargrave back from injury. However, even with those players returning, I still only give the Eagles a slight edge in my roster rankings over the Rams, whose young offensive line was surprisingly impressive last week. Given that they only have a minimal edge in talent, there isn’t enough line value for the Eagles to be worth betting at home in front of an empty crowd as 1-point favorites, but they should be the pick for pick ‘em purposes, as the most likely result of this game is an Eagles win by a field goal.

Philadelphia Eagles 27 Los Angeles Rams 24

Pick against the spread: Philadelphia -1

Confidence: Low

Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Mascots: 2020 Week 1 NFL Pick

Philadelphia Eagles (0-0) at Washington Mascots (0-0)

The Eagles enter the season as arguably the most banged up team in the league. They’ve already lost a pair of expected starting offensive linemen in Andre Dillard and Brandon Brooks to season ending injuries and, while Dillard was replaced by Jason Peters, who could be an upgrade, Brooks is a massive loss and they have absences at other positions as well, including expected starting wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, a big free agent acquisition, starting defensive end Derek Barnett, and starting running back Miles Sanders. 

Fortunately, to begin their season, the Eagles get an easy trip to Washington to play the team that used to have a mascot. In addition to not having a team name, Washington enters the season as one of the worst teams in the league and has injury issues of their own, with top cornerback Kendall Fuller and top linebacker Thomas Davis both out this week. We’re not getting enough line value with the Eagles as 5.5-point road favorites to bet them in their current condition, but they should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes.

Philadelphia Eagles 26 Washington Mascots 20

Pick against the spread: Philadelphia -5.5

Confidence: None