New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles: 2018 Week 12 NFL Pick

New York Giants (3-7) at Philadelphia Eagles (4-6)

The Eagles had a week from hell last week. Not only did they get blown out in New Orleans, losing 48-7, but they also suffered numerous mid-game injuries. Center Jason Kelce is not listed on the injury report this week after leaving with an elbow injury early in the game last week, but the Eagles also lost every down linebacker Jordan Hicks and numerous cornerbacks. Already without top cornerback Ronald Darby and starting safety Rodney McLeod, the Eagles are now starting a trio of bottom of the roster talents at cornerback and have just one week 1 starter left in their secondary, safety Malcolm Jenkins.

As a result of last week, this line adjusted in a significant way, as the Eagles went from being favored by 9.5 points on the early line to being favored by 5.5 points this week, the kind of week-to-week swing that’s usually reserved for a quarterback injury. While about 50% of games are decided by 9 points or fewer, just 30% of games are decided by 5 points or fewer, so it’s a very significant swing, crossing key numbers of 6 and 7.

Typically I love going against these kind of significant week-to-week line movements and this game is no exception. Obviously the Eagles looked terrible last week, but they’ve been competitive in all their other losses and Saints are playing at another level right now, especially at home. Teams also typically bounce back from a blowout loss, going 57-35 ATS since 2002 off of a loss by 35 points or more, as teams tend to be overlooked, embarrassed, and undervalued in that spot. Most recently, we saw the Bengals cover in a close loss as 6-point underdogs in Baltimore last week, after the Saints blew them out the previous week.

I can’t say for sure that the Eagles will be overlooked or embarrassed, but they are definitely undervalued, as this line suggests they’re just a few points better than the Giants. Despite being 4-6 and coming off of a blowout loss, the Eagles still rank 10th in first down rate at +2.32%, while the Giants rank 26th at -4.08%. The Eagles could easily be 6-4 or so right now, in which case they’d likely be favored by at least a touchdown in this game, even coming off of a blowout loss with all of the injuries they have.

The injuries in the Eagles’ back 7 are definitely concerning, but they still have a strong defensive line and should dominate this game in the trenches, much like they did in the first matchup, when they blew out the Giants 34-13 in New York as 3-point road favorites. Their offense should also be a lot better this week with Kelce back in the lineup, at home against an underwhelming Giants defense. They should win this game by multiple scores and cover with relative ease.

Philadelphia Eagles 27 New York Giants 17

Pick against the spread: Philadelphia -5.5

Confidence: High

Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints: 2018 Week 11 NFL Pick

Philadelphia Eagles (4-5) at New Orleans Saints (8-1)

The Eagles have obviously gotten off to a disappointing start, going 4-5 a year after winning the Super Bowl. Last week was arguably their most disappointing loss, as they lost a key divisional game against the Cowboys at home as 7.5-point favorites. After that loss, the public seems to have soured on them and, as a result, this line shifted from New Orleans -6.5 on the early line last week to New Orleans -8 this week, crossing the key number of 7. Typically I love going against significant week-to-week line movements, as they tend to be an overreaction to a single week of play, and this game is no different.

The Saints are definitely a dominant team and are coming off arguably their best performance of the year, winning 51-14 in Cincinnati (also probably part of why this line shifted), but the Bengals are not nearly the team they were earlier in the year because of injuries and blowout wins aren’t necessarily predictive of future blowout wins. Teams that outscored their previous opponent by 35+ points, on average, outscore their next opponent by an average of just 5.20 points per game.

At 8 points, this line is too high. The Eagles’ record isn’t good, but they’ve been better than their record suggests, with a positive point differential (+15) and a first down rate differential that ranks 5th in the NFL (+4.75%). All 5 of their losses have come by less than a touchdown and they won the first down rate in two of those losses, including last week’s loss in Dallas, a game that swung on a Philadelphia turnover, two Dallas 4th down conversions, and a failed Philadelphia 4th down conversion. Carson Wentz has actually only lost by more than a touchdown just 4 times in 36 career starts, with 3 of those losses coming in his rookie year, which is relevant considering where this line is.

The injuries are starting to pile up for the Eagles, with running back Jay Ajayi, defensive end Derek Barnett, safety Rodney McLeod, and now cornerback Ronald Darby out for the season, with defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan still yet to return after off-season back surgery, but this is such a talented roster that they’re still one of the better teams in the league on paper even with some key players missing. Players like left tackle Jason Peters and middle linebacker Jordan Hicks (and obviously quarterback Carson Wentz as well) were lost for the season during last year’s Super Bowl run and now are healthy and playing well.

The Eagles also get right tackle Lane Johnson back this week, after he missed last week’s battle with the Cowboys, while the Saints were dealt a huge injury blow when they lost left tackle Terron Armstead for an extended period of time with a shoulder injury. Armstead is one of the best left tackles in the league, so his absence should be noticeable for this offense. The general public doesn’t pay much attention to offensive line injuries, so I doubt Armstead’s absence affected this line much, but that injury should have affected this line more than the result of either of these teams’ games last week. Without Armstead, I have the Saints calculated as 5.5-point favorites in this one, so we’re getting significant line value with the Eagles.

The Eagles are also in a better spot, as they don’t have to play again in 4 days like the Saints do. Favorites are 51-71 ATS since 2012 before Thursday Night Football and the Saints could easily be looking forward this week to their upcoming Thanksgiving clash with the Falcons. The Eagles, meanwhile, have only an easy home game against the Giants on deck and should be fully focused in a game they need to stay in the playoff picture. They might not win straight up, but I love their chances of keeping this one close. This is my Pick of the Week.

New Orleans Saints 31 Philadelphia Eagles 27

Pick against the spread: Philadelphia +8

Confidence: Pick of the Week

Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles: 2018 Week 10 NFL Pick

Dallas Cowboys (3-5) at Philadelphia Eagles (4-4)

The Eagles have been on my underrated list for a few weeks, as I don’t think they’re really that much worse than last season. They are 4-4, but their 4 losses have come by a combined 15 points and they rank 3rd in first down rate differential at 5.19%. They are legitimately a few plays away from being 6-2 right now and being talked about as one of the NFC’s contenders. This team will likely make the playoffs because no one is running away with the NFC East and no one in the NFC should want that, as they could easily contend to go back to the Super Bowl.

Unfortunately, we’re not getting a good line with them this week, as this line has shifted from 6 to 7.5 in the past week, crossing the key number of 7. That’s as a result of the Cowboys’ home loss to the Titans and the Cowboys’ loss of linebacker Sean Lee to injury, but the Titans are an underrated team with Marcus Mariota healthy and the Cowboys didn’t miss Lee that much early in the season when he was injured because of the presence of talented young linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch.

I have this line calculated at Philadelphia -10, so we’re still getting some line value with the Eagles, but they’re also not in a great spot with a trip to New Orleans on deck. Favorites of 6+ are just 19-31 ATS since 2012 before being underdogs of 6+ and the Eagles are 6.5-point underdogs in New Orleans on the early line. The Cowboys, meanwhile, only have a game against the Falcons on deck, so they should be much more focused for this game. The Eagles obviously aren’t going to look past a key divisional game against a hated rival, but they may have some split focus this week, with a game that is much more of a measuring stick for them on deck.

The Cowboys have also played pretty well away from home in recent years, as a result of their national fanbase, going 37-29 ATS since 2010, including 23-17 ATS as road underdogs and 9-6 ATS as divisional road underdogs. They have yet to win away from home this season and could easily lose by double digits in this one, but we’re not getting a good line or a good spot with the Eagles. I’d need this line at least to drop down to an even touchdown to consider betting it.

Philadelphia Eagles 23 Dallas Cowboys 13

Pick against the spread: Philadelphia -7.5

Confidence: Low

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: 2018 Week 8 NFL Pick

Philadelphia Eagles (3-4) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-4) in London

These two teams almost met in the Super Bowl last year, but this year they’ve gotten off to disappointing 3-4 starts. The Jaguars have much more reason for concern though. While the Eagles’ 4 losses have come by a combined 15 points, the Jaguars are -30 in point differential and rank 15th in first down rate differential at +0.86%. The Jaguars defense has still played well overall, ranking 2nd in first down rate allowed at 30.73%, but their offense has been horrendous, ranking 27th in first down rate at 31.59%.

Blake Bortles’ regression to a subpar starting quarterback gets a lot of the blame, but the Jaguars have also had a lot of injuries around him. After losing likely #1 receiver Marqise Lee before the season even started, the Jaguars have lost running back Leonard Fournette, their top-3 tight ends, and their top-2 left tackles. They’ve run the ball somewhat effectively even without Fournette, but their offensive line has not played well and their receivers have consistently failed to get seperation.

They tried benching Bortles for backup Cody Kessler in their loss to the Texans last week, but that didn’t work, in large part because Kessler is a backup caliber quarterback who would not be an upgrade even on Bortles. Instead, the Jaguars will turn back to Bortles this week, as he at least gives them some upside under center, but he will be on a very short leash. An uncertain quarterback situation is never good for any offense, especially one with as little talent around the quarterback as the Jaguars. They’ll also be without top cornerback AJ Bouye with injury this week, as the injury bug has spread to their defense.

The Eagles, meanwhile, still resemble their Super Bowl team, ranking 6th in first down rate differential at +4.13%. They’ve just struggled in close games, most recently blowing a 17-0 4th quarter lead at home to the Panthers. They have some injuries, with defensive end Derek Barnett, safety Rodney McLeod, and running back Jay Ajayi all on injured reserve and defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan yet to return from off-season back surgery, but they had injuries last year as well and are still a top-5 team on paper. They shouldn’t have too much trouble with the Jaguars in London, where the better team typically covers (favorites are 22-10 ATS all-time in neutral site games). I wish this line was still 3 where it briefly opened, but the shift is justifiable for Bouye’s mid-week injury and I have this line at -6 anyway, so the Eagles are worth a bet.

Philadelphia Eagles 24 Jacksonville Jaguars 17

Pick against the spread: Philadelphia -3.5

Confidence: Medium

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