Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles: 2016 Week 17 NFL Pick

Dallas Cowboys (13-2) at Philadelphia Eagles (6-9)

I almost never bet on teams that are expected to rest their starters for some or most of a game in week 17 because it’s too unpredictable. In this game, the Cowboys are expected to start their starters, but how long they play is a complete mystery with the #1 seed already locked up. This line expects their backups to play a lot as they are 5 point underdogs in Philadelphia in a game in which they likely would have been favored by 5 points if their starters were going to play the whole game.

The Cowboys have been one of the best teams in the league this season, particularly on the road, where they are 5-2 ATS (31-23 ATS since 2010), so they could easily jump out to a 10-0 or 14-0 lead with their starters out there and cover this spread even with Mark Sanchez and company playing most of the game, but I’m not going to bet anything on it, especially since the Eagles are an underrated team that has top offensive lineman Lane Johnson back from suspension and is 6-9 despite a 1-6 record in games decided by a touchdown or less.

Philadelphia Eagles 23 Dallas Cowboys 20

Pick against the spread: Dallas +5

Confidence: Low

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New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles: 2016 Week 16 NFL Pick

New York Giants (10-4) at Philadelphia Eagles (5-9)

Prior to the season, the Eagles were on my underrated list and I bet the over on their over/under of 6.5 wins. When they started the season 3-0, that looked like a wise bet. However, since that 3-0 start, the Eagles have lost 9 of 11 and need to win out against a pair of tough divisional opponents, the Giants and Cowboys, just to get over 6.5 wins. What happened? Well, there are a lot of factors, but part of it has been their inability to win close games, as they are 0-6 in games decided by a touchdown or less this season and have a +17 point differential despite their 5-9 record. Declining play at both at the quarterback position and the offensive line have also been a factor.

After looking like the next big thing to start the season, rookie quarterback Carson Wentz has fallen down to earth in a big way and now is among the worst quarterbacks in the NFL in QB rating. That’s understandable from a rookie quarterback and not something that’s likely to fix itself in the next two weeks. However, their offensive line is about to get a big boost from returning right tackle Lane Johnson, who has missed the last 10 games with suspension. Johnson is one of the best offensive tackles in the league, so it shouldn’t be a huge surprise that the Eagles went 2-8 in the games he missed, after starting the season 3-1 in the 4 games he played. They also get left guard Allen Barbre back after he missed last week’s game, the 3rd game he’s missed in the last 7 weeks. With a healthy offensive line and a lot of close losses that could have gone either way, the Eagles enter this game underrated.

The Giants, meanwhile, are not healthy entering this one. They got left guard Justin Pugh back last week, a big boost because he’s their best offensive lineman, but talented defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul will miss his 3rd straight game with an abdominal injury, while top cornerback Janoris Jenkins could join him on the sidelines after taking a big hit last week against Detroit. Jenkins hasn’t been ruled out yet, but his status is very much in doubt on a short week and even if he plays he might not be 100%.

That being said, the Giants rank 9th in first down rate differential and are still a solid squad even at less than 100%. Plus, we’re still only getting 3 points with the Eagles, so we’re not getting great line value or anything. The Eagles are also in a tough spot given that they have to turn around and host Dallas next week. Teams don’t usually big well before big home games like that,  as teams are 43-94 ATS since 2012 the week before being 4.5 point home underdogs, which the Eagles almost definitely will be next week. Philadelphia should still be the right side, but this is a low confidence pick to start the week.

Also, by request, I’m going to be posting bets I lock in earlier in the week in my Thursday Night pick write up in the future so readers can grab them before they move. These are not all my bets for the week, just ones where I think the line may move in an unfavorable direction.

DEN +4 (I’d still take 3 or 3.5, but lock in +4 if you can. This opened at 4.5)

IND +4

MIN +7

CHI +3.5 (I’d still take 3, but lock in +3.5 if you can)

ARZ +8.5 (I’d take this all the way down to 7, but the line is moving down after opening at 9 so this might be worth locking in)

New York Giants 17 Philadelphia Eagles 16

Pick against the spread: Philadelphia +3

Confidence: Low

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Philadelphia Eagles at Baltimore Ravens: 2016 Week 15 NFL Pick

Philadelphia Eagles (5-8) at Baltimore Ravens (7-6)

Much like many Ravens teams in recent memory, this Ravens team has a great defense, but an underwhelming offense. They enter this game 30th in first down rate, but 3rd in first down rate allowed and 15th in first down rate differential. The Eagles enter this game 26th in first down rate differential and very banged up on the offensive line, so the Ravens are definitely the better team here, but, with the line being 6, Philadelphia becomes a very appealing bet here because of the type of team Baltimore is. The Ravens have won just 3 of 12 games by more than 6 points in the past 2 seasons and are also without top cornerback Jimmy Smith, a big blow to this defense. Even though the Ravens are 15th in first down rate differential and the Eagles are 26th, there’s a smaller gap between 15th and 26th than there is between 8th and 15th, so these two teams are closer than that suggests.

The Ravens are also in a tough spot with a huge divisional clash with the Steelers on deck, a game in which the Ravens figure to be at least 6 point underdogs in Pittsburgh. Favorites of 6 or more are just 51-87 ATS since 2002 before being underdogs of 6 or more. With that huge game on deck, the Ravens could easily overlook the Eagles, who could pull off the win in a trap game. Even if they don’t, we’re getting 6 points with them and this should be another close game for the Ravens. If you can get the full 6, it’s worth a bet.

Baltimore Ravens 16 Philadelphia Eagles 13

Pick against the spread: Philadelphia +6

Confidence: Medium

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Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles: 2016 Week 14 NFL Pick

Washington Redskins (6-5-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (5-7)

The Eagles got blown out last week in Cincinnati and have been unimpressive offensively since losing stud right tackle Lane Johnson to suspension, but they still have a strong defense and they get their top-2 skill position players, wide receiver Jordan Matthews and running back Ryan Mathews, back from injury this week. They are at least as good as their opponents this week, the Washington Redskins. The Eagles have an advantage in point differential (+23 vs. +8) and in first down rate differential (20th vs. 24th). Despite that, the Eagles are 2.5 point home underdogs and the public is all over the Redskins, as a result of the Redskins’ better record (6-5-1 vs. 5-7). I love fading the public whenever it makes sense and it definitely does here, as the Eagles should be favored by a field goal. I’d need the full field goal with the Eagles to put money on the spread, but the money line is a good value either way.

Philadelphia Eagles 26 Washington Redskins 24 Upset Pick +125

Pick against the spread: Philadelphia +2.5

Confidence: Low

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Philadelphia Eagles at Cincinnati Bengals: 2016 Week 13 NFL Pick

Philadelphia Eagles (5-6) at Cincinnati Bengals (3-7-1)

Before the season started, I had the Bengals on my list of teams that I thought would disappoint. They won 12 games last season and were 10-2 before losing quarterback Andy Dalton for the season with injury, but outside of Dalton they barely had an injuries last season, something that usually doesn’t happen two years in a row. They also lost of number of players in free agency, including cornerback Leon Hall, safety Reggie Nelson, and wide receivers Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones.

Things have been even worse than I expected though. Dalton has stayed healthy, but the Bengals haven’t stayed nearly as healthy as last season around him on either side of the ball. A couple weeks ago, their season went from bad to worse when they lost wide receiver AJ Green for an extended period of time with a slight hamstring tear and running back Giovani Bernard for the season with a torn ACL. Both injuries came in a close home loss to the Bills and then the following week they suffered a close road loss in Baltimore, dropping them to 3-7-1.

Now I actually think the Bengals are underrated. Many of their losses have been close, with their last 3 coming by a combined 10 points. Dalton might not have Bernard or Green, but Tyler Eifert is healthy, which they didn’t have earlier in the season. He still has a strong offensive line in front of him and didn’t play badly against a tough Baltimore defense last week. The Bengals also have a decent defense. On the season, they rank 16th in first down rate differential, not terrible and actually one spot above the Eagles.

The Bengals aren’t as good as that suggests without Bernard and Green, but the Eagles aren’t healthy either, missing running back Ryan Mathews and possibly wide receiver Jordan Matthews with injury. They also haven’t been the same offensively since losing right tackle Lane Johnson to suspension. Despite that, the Eagles are favored by 1.5 here in Cincinnati, because the Bengals are an underrated team. The Bengals are also in a much better spot, as they go to Cleveland next week, while the Eagles host the Redskins in a key divisional matchup. The Eagles could definitely overlook a 3-7-1 non-conference opponent, while the Bengals figure to be very focused with the worst team in the league on deck. Home underdogs are 79-44 ATS before being road favorites since 2002. I like the Bengals a good amount this week.

Cincinnati Bengals 20 Philadelphia Eagles 17 Upset Pick +100

Pick against the spread: Cincinnati +1.5

Confidence: Medium

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Green Bay Packers at Philadelphia Eagles: 2016 Week 12 NFL Pick

Green Bay Packers (4-6) at Philadelphia Eagles (5-5)

I’ve been going back and forth on whether or not I want to put any money on the Packers this week. They should be the right side, but they’ve been so inconsistent this season that it’s tough to be confident in them. Early in the year, it was their offense that was disappointing. Now, their offense has picked up, but their defense has been atrocious, allowing a ridiculous 12 touchdowns in their last 2 games. They’re getting healthier on defense, with middle linebacker Jake Ryan and cornerback Damarious Randall returning this week and outside linebacker Clay Matthews returning in a limited role last week and set to play a full set of snaps this week, but none of those three players were playing particularly well before getting hurt, so I’m not sure how much it’ll help. The rookie Ryan was playing the best of the three, but his return coincides with fellow middle linebacker Blake Martinez getting hurt and missing this game, so Ryan’s return might not be anything more than a wash.

Typically, the Packers have done well after a loss in the Aaron Rodgers era, going 27-16 ATS off of a loss with Rodgers under center, but if their defense can’t get it together that won’t matter. We are getting some line value with the Packers as 4 point underdogs, as these teams are more or less even, meaning the hometown Eagles should be favored by a field goal at most at home. The Eagles are also not nearly as good offensively as the Titans and Redskins, the Packers’ last two opponents. I’m going to hold out for this line to move to 4.5 at some point before Monday night, but I might ultimately end up putting money on the Packers at 4 if the line doesn’t move.

Monday Update: Holding out for 4.5 worked, as I was able to get it this morning. If you can get it, I’d recommend a bet, but I think avoid betting on the Packers at 4. Normally I’d be all over the Packers in this spot, but they’ve been too inconsistent this year.

Philadelphia Eagles 24 Green Bay Packers 23

Pick against the spread: Green Bay +4.5

Confidence: Medium

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Philadelphia Eagles at Seattle Seahawks: 2016 Week 11 NFL Pick

Philadelphia Eagles (5-4) at Seattle Seahawks (6-2-1)

The Seahawks pulled a big upset last week, winning as 8 point underdogs in New England. Considering how well the Seahawks have played in the 2nd half of the season in recent years, that big upset shouldn’t have come as a big surprise. The Seahawks have always done very well in the second half of the regular season in the Pete Carroll era (since 2011), going 31-9-1 ATS in games 9-16 since Carroll arrived. This has been very noticeable on the stat sheet for Russell Wilson, as he’s completed 66% of his passes for an average of 8.7 YPA, 66 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions in the second half of the regular season in his career.

Considering how well this organization is run from top to bottom, it doesn’t surprise me they get better as the season goes on. It also wouldn’t surprise me at all if they went on another second half run. Safety Kam Chancellor has returned to the lineup, while quarterback Russell Wilson is much healthier after playing through early season injuries. The Seahawks also get running back Thomas Rawls back from injury this week. He’ll split touches out of the backfield with last week’s breakout star, rookie 3rd round pick CJ Prosise.

They’re also in a great spot here with only a trip to Tampa Bay on deck. The early line has them as 6.5 point road favorites. Favorites of 6 or more are 89-50 ATS since 2012 before being favorites of 6 or more again. With no distractions on the horizon, the Seahawks should be able to be completely focused for an inferior opponent this week. The Eagles aren’t a bad team, but the line isn’t that high either (6.5). The Seahawks could be about to go on another late season run, so I have confidence that they’ll win by at least a touchdown.

Seattle Seahawks 24 Philadelphia Eagles 13

Pick against the spread: Seattle -6.5

Confidence: Medium

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