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