The Minnesota Vikings and the Philadelphia Eagles as the NFC's only two unbeaten teams entering Week 5? Sure, I had that! Not. I almost hope those teams do reach the postseason and play each other because they are going to be intertwined all year in the wake of the Eagles sending starting quarterback Sam Bradford to Minnesota after Teddy Bridgewater's late training camp injury.
Seriously, who is the NFL Executive of the Year right now? Is it Vikings GM Rick Spielman for having the cajones to send first- and fourth-round picks to Philadelphia for Bradford barely a week before the season began? Or is it Philly's Howie Roseman? He's the guy who got those two picks for a quarterback he didn't really want. And Roseman is the guy who orchestrated the big trade before the draft to get the No. 2 overall pick from Cleveland and select North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz. Minnesota's Mike Zimmer and Philadelphia first-year coach Doug Pederson have to be your two leading candidates for Coach of the Year. Wentz and Pederson are just the second rookie QB/head coach duo to start 3-0 since at least 1950. The other: Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez of the 2009 Jets.
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The Eagles certainly would have preferred to not have their bye in Week 4 as that's way too early -- ideally it's around Week 8 -- but that's where Philadelphia is entering Sunday's visit to Detroit. The Lions are one of the most aggravating teams in the NFL to handicap because they look like world-beaters one minute and an expansion team the next. Which shows up here?
Eagles at Lions Betting Story Lines
Philadelphia (3-0) is the +150 favorite to win the NFC East, just ahead of 3-1 Dallas (+175). The Eagles are -185 to make the playoffs and +150 not to. While about 75 percent of teams that start 3-0 make the postseason since 1990, I still don't think this team will. Wentz has been fantastic, completing 64.7 percent of his passes for 769 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions in what has been a truly historic start and landed him NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month honors for September. But keep in mind he has played just the one road game thus far and that was at a bad Chicago team.
The bye week did come at a good time for top Eagles tight end Zach Ertz (rib) and No. 1 cornerback Leodis McKelvin as they will both return from injuries after missing two games. Tuesday could be the last game this season for excellent right tackle Lane Johnson, however. He is appealing a 10-game suspension for violating the NFL's PED policy. That appeal was heard on Tuesday but a decision isn't likely until next week. Players rarely win these, but they do sometimes get them lessened. Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham was arrested Sunday at Miami International Airport as a loaded gun was reportedly found in his backpack. How stupid do you have to be? That isn't likely to keep him from Sunday's game.
I know no Eagle wants this win more than defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. He was 29-51 in five seasons as the Lions head coach, fired after the 2013 season. Schwartz is doing a fine job in Philly as the Eagles are No. 3 in yards per game allowed and No. 1 in scoring defense (9.0 ppg).
Detroit (1-3) obviously isn't going to win the NFC North as it's already three games behind the first-place Vikings. The Lions are +800 to make the playoffs. Don't see that, either. Perhaps the most relevant prop on the team is the next NFL coach fired. Jim Caldwell is a +700 third-favorite. Not impossible that happens on Monday if the Lions are blown out Sunday at home for a fourth straight defeat. Remember, the entire front office is news and keeping Caldwell this offseason was no sure thing.
At the same time, if the Lions are going to make any wild-card noise the time is now on a three-game homestand. This game is winnable as is Week 6 vs. the Rams and Week 7 vs. Washington. But Detroit will have to play leaps and bounds better than in Sunday's 17-14 loss in Chicago. The Lions had a Top-5 offense entering that game but managed 263 yards against a bad defense. Matthew Stafford threw two picks and Golden Tate had one catch for 1 yard and was benched for blowing a route that led to a pick. Something's up with Tate as he has just 95 yards all season. I thought he would really shine as the new No. 1 with Calvin Johnson retired, but that honor has gone to free-agent addition Marvin Jones. He's second in the NFL with 482 receiving yards.
The Lions are likely again without their top two defenders in injured end Ziggy Ansah and linebacker DeAndre Levy. Running back Ameer Abdullah already has been lost perhaps for the year. Fellow tailback Dwayne Washington, who was in line for more work with Abdullah out, is in question after being injured vs. the Bears. Could mean plenty of Theo Riddick.
Eagles at Lions Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , Philadelphia is a 2.5-point favorite (-120) with a total of 46. On the moneyline, the Eagles are -145 and the Lions +125. On the alternate lines, the Eagles are -3 (+105) and -2 (-125). Philly is 3-0 against the spread (1-0 on road) and 1-2 "over/under" (1-0 on road). Detroit is 1-3 ATS (0-1 at home) and 2-2 O/U (0-1 at home).
The Eagles are 4-0 ATS in their past four in Week 5. They are 4-1 ATS in their past five road games. The Lions are 3-7 ATS in their past 10 at home. They are 1-4 ATS in their past four vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 9-2 in Philly's past 11 after a win. It's 13-6 in Detroit's past 19 after a loss. The home team is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings.
Eagles at Lions Betting Prediction
Detroit blistered Philadelphia 45-14 last Thanksgiving. Stafford threw for 337 yards and five scores, three caught by Johnson. Mark Sanchez was the Eagles QB then. I take very little from that, but I do believe Stafford has a nice bounce-back game. The Lions are usually a tough team to beat at home and they are desperate. Wentz could struggle with the noise in his first dome game. Take the 3-point alternate line and go under.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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