Monday Night Football Picks: Carolina Panthers at Philadelphia Eagles Odds
by Alan Matthews - 11/7/2014
How many teams could you realistically say that could still win a division title after losing their starting quarterback halfway through the season? Seriously. Denver? Please. New England? Nope. Indianapolis? One of NFL's worst teams without Andrew Luck. The Packers without Aaron Rodgers? OK, they did last season, but that's just because the rest of the NFC North was so average. The Saints without Drew Brees are the Rams. The Steelers without Big Ben are the Titans. Maybe teams like Seattle or San Francisco could do it because they have strong running games and very good defenses.
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I mention this because it's likely that the Eagles will be without starter Nick Foles for the rest of the season. He suffered a broken collarbone in last week's win over Houston, and early estimates are 6-8 weeks of recovery. He didn't need surgery, which is a good thing. Rodgers broke his also in Week 9 last season, and he didn't make it back until Week 17.
Thus, this is now Mark Sanchez's team. Here's what I'm wondering. The Eagles make the playoffs, but Foles hasn't returned yet. Sanchez has played good but not great. Do you start Sanchez in the playoff game or a guy who hasn't faced competition in two months? That's why Chip Kelly makes the big bucks.
I still expect Philly to win the NFC East because Dallas is so flawed and Tony Romo isn't exactly a picture of health. The Eagles are -200 division favorites at Sportsbook.ag. As for Carolina? I thought the Panthers would take a big step back, and they appear headed down that road at 3-5-1. I did think they would beat visiting New Orleans last Thursday but liked the Saints to win the terrible NFC South. That victory made me more confident of that. New Orleans is -500 to win the South and Carolina +350.
Panthers at Eagles Betting Story Lines
Sanchez has a chance to really save his career and make some money next season as a free agent if he plays well. Sure, he led the Jets to two AFC title games, but that was more because of New York's defense and running game, not anything Sanchez did. Frankly, he's still best known for the epic "buttfumble" play vs. New England in 2012. Sanchez hasn't started since the finale of that year. He looked pretty good when Foles went down last Sunday in the first quarter. Sanchez was 15 of 22 for 202 yards, two touchdowns and two picks. He also looked sharp in the preseason.
Sanchez has way, way more offensive talent around him in Philly than he did with the Jets, plus an offensive guru in Kelly. If you read all the usual NFL experts this week, many seem to think the Eagles will be just fine because Kelly can turn any QB into a success (and Foles hasn't been all that good at times -- he's not the same guy from 2013). Kelly did that in college, that's for sure. But then so did Steve Spurrier, and his NFL tenure didn't quite work out.
Bovada does offer props on Sanchez's numbers this week : "over/under" 250.5 passing yards (both -115) and 1.5 TD passes (over -150 favorite). Carolina is better against the pass (No. 18, 246.2 ypg) than the run (26th, 131.9 ypg). Also you can bet on who the starting QB is for the Eagles in Week 1 next season: Foles (+150), Sanchez (+275), Matt Barkley (+1000) or any other QB (+120). There were some reports that Eagles GM Howie Roseman was souring on Foles before the injury. Naturally the team shot that down. Foles is signed through next season at a low salary, so I'd take him on that prop. Go under Sanchez's yards and over TDs.
Injury-wise other than Foles, the Eagles lost starting linebacker DeMeco Ryans to a season-ending injury in Week 9 and that's big. Also, guard Todd Herremans has been playing through a torn biceps, but he's now done. The good news: Pro Bowl left guard Evan Mathis will return. He hasn't played since Week 1 with a sprained MCL.
Carolina has lost three straight, scoring 17 points or fewer in each, and Cam Newton is regressing. He completed 54.8 percent in a 38-17 loss at Green Bay with a TD and pick. He completed 54.5 percent in a 13-9 home loss to Seattle with no TDs and a pick. Last week against the Saints in a 28-10 home defeat, he was 10-for-28 for 151 yards, no TDs and a pick.
The Panthers are essentially coming off a bye having played last Thursday and then Monday. So they should get back several guys from injury, including starting offensive linemen Byron Bell and Amini Silatolu and starting safety Thomas DeCoud. Undrafted rookie David Foucault was pushed around at left tackle in Bell's spot last week.
Defensively, the Panthers were only behind Seattle in 2013, but that unit is not nearly as good this year. I'm not sure you can blame it all on missing suspended star end Greg Hardy, who isn't going to be riding to the rescue. He'll never play another down as a Panther as he awaits his trial for domestic abuse. Last year Carolina was No. 2 in total (301.3 ypg) and scoring defense (15.1 ppg). This year it's No. 25 (378.1 ypg) and No. 25 (26.2 ppg), respectively.
Carolina Panthers at Philadelphia Eagles NFL Monday Night Football Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , Philadelphia is a 7.5-point favorite (+120) with alternate lines of 7 (+100) and 6.5 (-120). The Eagles are -290 on the moneyline and the Panthers +245. The total is 48. Carolina is 5-4 against the spread (2-2 on road) and 5-4 O/U (3-1 on road). Philadelphia is 5-3 ATS (3-1 at home) and 5-3 O/U (3-1 at home).
Carolina has covered 11 of its past 15 after allowing at least 350 yards in its previous game. It has covered five of its past eight following an ATS loss. The Eagles are 4-0 ATS in their past four after putting up at least 350 yards of offense in their previous game. The Eagles are 2-8 ATS in their past 10 at home vs. teams with a losing road record. The under is 11-2 in Carolina's past 13 vs. the NFC. It is 4-0 in the team's past four November games. The over has hit in seven of the Eagles' past nine Monday games. The over is 9-3 in the Eagles' past 12 against teams with a losing record.
Carolina Panthers at Philadelphia Eagles Monday Night Football Betting Prediction
The weather shouldn't be a factor. Actually pretty nice for this time of year in Philadelphia. It's a hard game to gauge because I have no idea what Sanchez will do. And there's always a chance that Newton blows up -- or implodes. The Cats have been awful defensively on the road of late (133 points allowed in past three). But because I can't rely on either QB, I will take the 7.5 points and lean under.
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