NFL Expert Picks Against the Spread: Philadelphia Eagles vs. Green Bay Packers
We finally had our first 2-0 betting night in the NFL this season last Thursday as the Jacksonville Minshews beat the visiting Tennessee Titans 20-7 to easily cover and stay under the total. However, it was another dud of a game for the most part, and all three Thursday night ones have been - a quick aside: Every single NFL prime-time game this season had stayed "under" the first-half total until Monday night's Bears-Redskins matchup.
Perhaps the fact we don't have two teams facing off from the same division this week will lead to a more entertaining matchup as Philadelphia visits Green Bay in what I thought would be a potential playoff preview. Maybe it still will be, but the Eagles are in major, major trouble if they lose here to fall to 1-3, because not many teams under the current format play extra football following a 1-3 start. Should Philly win, it almost surely will get to 3-3 in Week 5 because it hosts the Jets, but then the Eagles go on a tremendously tough three-game road swing in Minneapolis, Dallas and Buffalo, all teams with winning records. Thus, it's fair to call Thursday's game almost the season already for Philadelphia. The Cowboys could have three-game lead in the NFC East already by Sunday night.
As for the Packers, they are atop the NFC North, maybe the NFL's best division this year, at 3-0. Green Bay is one of four teams that missed the playoffs last year to still be unbeaten. The others are Buffalo, Detroit and San Francisco. It's only the fourth time under the current playoff format (since 199) that at least four teams are unbeaten through their first three games after missing the postseason the previous year.
Eagles at Packers Betting Story Lines
Philadelphia's defense has been surprisingly an issue in the early going in allowing at least 24 points in every game - the Washington Redskins have no right scoring 27 points on anyone as they did Week 1 vs. Philly. Last week, a so-so Lions offense hung 27 in a three-point upset road win. There are a few issues, but one is definitely the pass rush as the Eagles have just two sacks, the second-fewest in the NFL.
While Jaguars All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey won't really help the sack total, don't be surprised if he ends up in Philadelphia via trade as the Eagles absolutely need some help in the secondary. I'm sure Jacksonville would prefer to send him out of conference if possible. Philly cornerback Ronald Darby left the Detroit loss with a hamstring injury and is going to miss some time, perhaps making a Ramsey trade more urgent. The Eagles have lost two of their main defensive linemen, tackles Malik Jackson and Tim Jernigan, to foot injuries. On offense, Carson Wentz for sure will be without receiver DeSean Jackson again this week due to an abdomen injury but it's possible that Alshon Jeffery will return from a calf injury.
The story thus far in Green Bay hasn't been new head coach Matt LaFleur's offense but Mike Pettine's defense allowing just 11.7 points per game, second-best in the NFL. Offseason additions Preston Smith and Za'Darius Smith have been fantastic, combining for 7.5 sacks. Last year, Green Bay had two games where its defense forced at least three turnovers. It already has two in 2019.
To be fair, the Packers have thus far faced three rather iffy quarterbacks in Mitch Trubisky, Kirk Cousins and Joe Flacco. Wentz is way better than any of those guys. As for Rodgers, he doesn't seem quite in sync with his head coach yet, with A-Rod yet to top 235 yards passing. He hasn't been picked off, though, and the offensive line has been protecting him better each game.
Eagles at Packers Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes, Green Bay is a 5-point favorite with a total of 45.5. On the moneyline, the Packers are -225 and Eagles +185. On the alternate lines (for now), the Pack are -6 (+103), -5.5 (-105), -4.5 (-115) and -4 (-123). Philadelphia is 0-1 against the spread on the road and 0-1 "over/under." Green Bay is 2-0 ATS at home and 1-1 O/U.
Philly has covered four straight Thursday games but failed to cover its past six September ones. Green Bay is 4-0-1 ATS in its past five on Thursday but 5-11-1 ATS in its previous 17 vs. the NFC. The over is 4-1 in the Eagles' past five on Thursday. The under is 4-1 in the Packers' past five after a win. The road team is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings and the under 7-1 in the previous eight.
Eagles at Packers Betting Prediction
It's the first-ever Thursday night matchup between the franchises. The Packers have won five of the past six in the series, including playoffs. They last met in the 2016 regular season in Philly and Green Bay won 27-13 on a Monday as the rookie Wentz struggled.
I'm taking the Eagles and the +6 here. I think they will play desperate. Go under the total. Something like a final of 23-20 (purposefully not saying who the winner is!).
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