Philadelphia Eagles Odds to Win the Super Bowl and Betting Futures
by Alan Matthews - 7/14/2014
Remember that first half of the Philadelphia Eagles' Monday night season opener in Washington last season? The Eagles scored 26 points, put up tons of yards and there were gaping holes everywhere in the Redskins' defense thanks to first-year Coach Chip Kelly's unique up-tempo system. It was a sight to behold, and it looked like the NFL was going to have to adjust or be run over. Well, the Eagles weren't quite the same offense in the second half of the game or the rest of the year for the most part. While Kelly's group did play pretty fast all season, it wasn't quite revolutionary.
One can't argue with the results, however. The Eagles finished No. 2 in total offense, leading the league in rushing, and No. 4 in scoring. Quarterback Nick Foles, running back LeSean McCoy and receiver DeSean Jackson all became stars, and Kelly turned around a team that was 4-12 in Andy Reid's final season into a 10-6 club and NFC East champion. The season ended on a sour note, to be sure. The Eagles were solid home favorites against New Orleans in a wild-card round. Everything was in Philly's favor: the Saints had never won a road playoff game, and it was very wintry conditions, things not suited for that New Orleans offense. The Saints would pull out a 26-24 upset on a field goal at the gun. That Eagles defense held Drew Brees pretty well in check but couldn't slow the Saints running game.
Entering the 2014 season, I would argue the Eagles are the most stable NFC East team by far. The Cowboys have had three straight 8-8 seasons and have a coach on shaky ground. The Giants have missed the playoffs two straight years, and Eli Manning is getting worse. The Redskins are starting over with new coach Jay Gruden. And to think Kelly nearly stayed at Oregon.
Michael Vick beat out Foles for the starting job in camp, and Vick did appear a better fit for the system because he could escape the pocket with his feet. Vick played pretty well until he got hurt, which we all knew was inevitable. Foles was terrific in his place and kept the job when Vick returned. Foles led the NFL with a 119.2 rating, completing 64 percent of his throws with 27 touchdowns and only two interceptions. That total was a quarter in some games for Manning. McCoy had a career year with 1,607 yards rushing and nine scores. He was the first Eagle to lead the NFL in rushing in more than 60 years, and that total shattered the franchise record.
Jackson also had his best year, catching 82 passes for 1,332 yards and nine scores. Of course, he was shockingly waived this offseason, not because of production issues but that Jackson apparently wasn't a good guy in the locker room and may or may not have been a Crip or Blood. He will be missed, but the Eagles welcome back Jeremy Maclin after he missed all of last season. He caught 69 balls for 857 yards and seven scores in 2012. Plus, the Eagles traded for Saints running back Darren Sproles, probably the best pass-catching back in the NFL. They re-signed receiver Riley Cooper, who had a career year, and drafted Vanderbilt WR Jordan Matthews in the second round of the draft and Oregon's Josh Huff in the third. Matthews reportedly has looked like the best receiver of all of them in OTAs, etc.
Vick is gone, with "Buttfumble" Sanchez or Matt Barkley now Foles' backup. The same five offensive linemen started all 17 games last season, which is rare, and are back. That won't happen in 2014 because right tackle Lane Johnson is suspended the first four games.
One thing NFL types always worried about regarding Kelly's up-tempo offense was the effect it would have on other side of the ball. Sure, it's nice to score really fast, but the defense does need its rest. And sometimes the Eagles go three-and-out in about 30 seconds. The defense did look worn down at times, ranking No. 29 in total defense, last in passing and 17th in points at 23.9 ppg.
The unit did seem to get better as the year went on. After all, it was the Eagles' first year in a 3-4 scheme under new defensive coordinator Bill Davis. The defense was very opportunistic, finishing tied for third with 31 takeaways in the regular season. Starting with a Week 5 win at the Giants, which was a must-win because the Eagles entered that game at 1-3, Philadelphia held nine straight opponents to 21 or fewer points. This team is going to score, so anytime an opponent is held 21 or fewer the Eagles will win at least 75 percent of the time. Likely the only new guys who will get significant playing time this year are safety Malcolm Jenkins, formerly of the Saints, and first-round pick Marcus Smith, a defensive end from Louisville who will likely play outside linebacker in the NFL most downs.
2014 Philadelphia Eagles Schedule Analysis
The Eagles have the 13th-easiest schedule in the NFL as their opponents went a combined 120-136 last season, a winning percentage of .479. Philly's road slate (.480) appears slightly tougher than at home (.477). Philadelphia is the biggest favorite on the board by far in Week 1 at -11 (total 52) as it hosts Jacksonville. The Jags were again one of the worst teams in the NFL last year, although they did win three of their final four road games. Philly won its final four regular-season home games before that playoff loss. The Jaguars are coached by Gus Bradley, who was set to become the Eagles' head coach before Kelly changed his mind about leaving Oregon. This is the first time since 2010 that Philadelphia opens a season at home.
I expect Philadelphia to be 4-2 entering its Week 7 bye. It will beat Jacksonville, lose Week 2 at Indianapolis, win Week 3 vs. Washington (Jackson's first shot at revenge), lose Week 4 at San Francisco and then win Weeks 5-6 at home vs. the Rams and Giants. Post-bye the Eagles go to Arizona and Houston before hosting Carolina. No lock victories in there. Then comes a challenging stretch of three games in 11 days: Week 11 at Green Bay (where the Eagles won easily last year, but the Pack were without Aaron Rodgers), followed by hosting Tennessee and then at Dallas on Thanksgiving. About the only positive of that is a few extra days to prepare for visiting Seattle in Week 14. The final three games are all in the division: vs. Cowboys (who have won two straight in Philly), at Redskins, at Giants. The Eagles did win in Washington and New Jersey last year.
2014 Philadelphia Eagles Odds to Win the Super Bowl and Betting Futures
Odds courtesy of Sportsbook.ag . The Eagles are +2800 to win the Super Bowl, +1500 to win the NFC championship and +140 favorites to win the NFC East for the second straight season. Philadelphia has a wins total of nine , with the "over" a -125 favorite. It is -110 to make the playoffs and -120 to miss out. McCoy is +2500 to win NFL MVP and Foles is +4000. Foles is +2500 to lead the league in passing yards. McCoy is the +450 second-favorite to Adrian Peterson to repeat as rushing king. Cooper is +15000 to top the NFL in receiving yards. Surprised no prop offered on Maclin. Matthews is +1000 to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. Marcus Smith is +3000 to win Defensive Rookie of the Year.
2014 Philadelphia Eagles Picks and Predictions
I do believe this is the best team in the NFC East, although the better way to say it might be that it's the team with the fewest problems/question marks. Will Foles have numbers similar to last season (over 16 games)? No way. But he should be fine. Yes, the loss of Jackson hurts, but adding Sproles helps offset that as did drafting Matthews and Huff. Not a big fan of the defense, which will continue to allow chunks of yardage, but as long as it bends and doesn't break Kelly is fine with that. Expect plenty of over totals. The Eagles finish 10-6 again and win the division. I love McCoy, but it's just so rare to repeat as rushing champion that I can't recommend that or any other individual prop.
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