Monday Night Football Picks: Philadelphia Eagles at Indianapolis Colts Odds
by Alan Matthews - 9/12/2014
Well, you have to figure that Eagles coach Chip Kelly knows as well as anyone how to try and defend Colts quarterback Andrew Luck -- not that anyone has had much success at it yet. Of course, Kelly's Oregon Ducks and Luck's Stanford Cardinal faced off three times during Luck's career on The Farm, with Oregon winning the final two meetings.
It's a nice Monday night matchup between Philadelphia and Indianapolis as both are reigning division winners and both favored to repeat in 2014. The Colts are -110 favorites at Sportsbook.ag in the AFC South while the Eagles are -240 in the NFC East. You never know, we could see these teams in Glendale the first weekend of February as well. I wouldn't exactly wager on that, but it's not out of the realm of possibility.
Expect plenty of points here. Neither defense is all that great, and both offenses can score quickly. This has the highest total in Week 2.
Philadelphia Eagles at Indianapolis Colts Betting Story Lines
Let's first talk about who won't be playing. The Colts got crushing news early this week when learning that outside linebacker Robert Mathis, who led the NFL with 19.5 sacks in 2013, had torn his Achilles' tendon while working out and is done for the season. Mathis had to work out on his own, and not at the team facility with trainers, because he had been suspended the first four games for violating the league's drug policy. That's a huge loss. Mathis is Indy's second-most important player. A team like Seattle or San Francisco could lose its best defensive player and still be a very good unit. Not the Colts. It was shaky even with Mathis.
Philadelphia will be without three of its best offensive linemen: right tackles Lane Johnson and Allen Barbre and Pro Bowl left guard Evan Mathis. Johnson, the team's No. 4 overall pick last year, is suspended the first four games. Barbre, Johnson's replacement, and Mathis were both hurt last week. Barbre is done for the season. Mathis will miss several weeks. Last year, the team's starting five linemen played every game. If there is a bright side, it's that Eagles backup linemen do get more practice time than most any other team's backups because Philly practices how it plays: super fast. Thus, Kelly has to rotate guys so they aren't worn out by Sunday.
This might be a must-win game for the Colts. It's very difficult to make the playoffs after starting 0-2 (less than 12 percent of teams since 1990), and all of a sudden the AFC South looks a little better after Houston beat Washington handily last week and Tennessee did the same in Kansas City. Indianapolis, expectedly, was beaten 31-24 in Denver. There's obviously no shame in losing in Denver. Luck was good, throwing for 370 yards and two scores (but two picks) while also running for a TD. The concerns would be the running game, which stunk last year and managed only 54 yards vs. the Broncos. That forced Luck to throw 53 times, which is way too many. Also, the pass rush was non-existent without Mathis in there. Peyton Manning's jersey looked pretty clean after the game.
Philadelphia looked like two different clubs in its opening 34-17 win over Jacksonville. The Jaguars dominated the first half and led 17-0 at the break. Eagles QB Nick Foles, who turned the ball over just four times in 2013, had two fumbles and a pick in that first half. I expected Foles to regress this year, but not quite that much. He was much better in the second half when the Eagles scored 34 unanswered points. Oddly, Foles was sacked five times in the first half when all the starters were in there most of the time. He didn't get sacked in the second half when the replacements for Barbre and Mathis were up front.
Philadelphia Eagles at Indianapolis Colts NFL Monday Night Football Betting Odds and Trends
At Sportsbook.ag, Indianapolis is a 3-point favorite with a total of 54.5. The Eagles were 5-3 against the spread on the road last year, while the Colts were 5-3 ATS at home. The Eagles are 2-8-1 ATS in their past 11 September games. Indy has covered four straight at home. The Colts are 14-2 ATS in their past 16 after a loss. The "over/under" has gone over in seven of the Eagles' past nine on the road. The over is 7-1 in Indy's past eight vs. teams with a winning record.
Philadelphia Eagles at Indianapolis Colts Monday Night Football Picks and Betting Predictions
This one looks pretty even. A team with no pass rush against one with a patchwork offensive line. One team fell behind 17-0 last week, while the other was down 24-0. A team that is perhaps the NFL's best on the ground against one that might be the worst.
I tend to lean the Colts here because they are home and more desperate. They also beat some really good teams in Indianapolis in 2013. Definitely would prefer this line drop to 2.5, but that's unlikely because the lean, more than 60 percent, is on Indy. The total has been rising all week. Still like over. I'd also take total points between 57-63 at +475 and Colts win by 7-10 points at +600.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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