The Philadelphia Eagles will open their regular season this Sunday afternoon with an interconference matchup against the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium. The game is set to kick off at 1 p.m. (EST) and it will be broadcast locally on FOX.
This betting preview is part of an ongoing series that started with Game 1 of the preseason where I take an in-depth look at each and every Eagles game this year and offer a free NFL pick using Doc’s Sports Unit Betting System.
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Betting Lines by 5Dimes
Pointspread: Philadelphia -9
Total Line: 43.5
Game Overview - Philadelphia
Despite his team’s perfect 4-0 straight-up (3-0-1 against the spread) record in the preseason, it has been a rough summer for Eagles’ head coach Andy Reid. In early August, he suffered a personal tragedy with the sudden death of his 29-year old son Garrett. Next, his starting quarterback Michael Vick, who is injury-prone to begin with, was knocked-out of the first two preseason games in the first quarter with a bruised hand and then a bruised rib. The icing on the cake was when team owner Jeff Lurie decided to put the 13-year veteran on the hot seat for his job before his team even played a single down in the regular season. If you think this would deter Reid from pressing on, you obviously do not know much about his lineman mentality that only lives to get the job done.
Heading into this game, the big story line should be Vick’s health. However, in reality it is Philly’s revitalized defense. We all know about this team’s weapons on offense led by running back LeSean McCoy and wide receiver DeSean Jackson, but the key to this game is all the havoc that second-year defensive coordinator Juan Castillio has in store for a young Cleveland offense. Not since the days when Jim Johnson roamed the sidelines directing the defense have the Eagles had such a solid front seven to go along with a lock-down secondary.
Game Overview - Cleveland
It will once again be a season of change in Cleveland as many experts speculate that team president Mike Holmgren’s days may be numbered with the impending change in team ownership this October. As far as this game, there is enough change on the offensive side of the ball to make you question what to expect from this team come Sunday. The first of two first-round draft picks, running back Trent Richardson, hopes to be in the starting lineup after missing the entire preseason with a knee injury. The other first rounder, Brandon Weeden, knows he is going to play after being named the team’s starting quarterback over Colt McCoy.
A hungry defensive line against a rookie quarterback is a bad combination, so Cleveland has to hope that Richardson is ready to go to help take some of the pressure off his draft mate.
There could also be a gaping hole in the Browns’ secondary to contend with on Sunday if cornerback Joe Haden’s four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy does not get overturned. Right now the situation remains up in the air pending a response from the NFL to Haden’s recent appeal. Cleveland is already dealing with linebacker Scott Fujita’s three-game suspension as well as long-term injuries to defensive back Dimitri Patterson and linebacker Chris Gocong.
Game Betting Trends
Philadelphia beat Cleveland, 27-10, in Week 3 of the preseason as a 4.5-point road underdog in a game it had no real intention of trying to win. The Eagles are 4-1 ATS in their last five road games, while the Browns are 2-8-2 ATS in their last 12 games at home. Week 1 has not been kind to anyone wagering on Cleveland with a 1-11-1 record ATS in its last 13 Week 1 games.
I would rarely go with such a strong three-unit play utilizing Doc’s Sports Unit Betting System for Week 1, but this game is such a mismatch that I have to jump all over it. The Eagles clearly have something to prove while Cleveland is still trying to sort through which players will or will not be in the starting lineup. Throw in a rookie quarterback against a team that was tied for the lead in the NFL for sacks last season and it creates a scenario that has “blowout” written all over it.
Philadelphia should have little problem covering the nine points on the road in this one.
Pick: #455 Take Philadelphia (-9) over Cleveland for 3 Units
Season Results: +1 Unit (+$90)
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