NFL Expert Picks Against the Spread: Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints
Who is the best backup quarterback in NFL history? That's obviously a bit of a subjective answer, but in my lifetime it's probably Hall of Famer Steve Young, who had to sit behind Hall of Famer Joe Montana for a while. That would never happen in this era. Future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers was a backup for a few years behind Hall of Famer Brett Favre.
By "backup", though, I more mean a player who really isn't a potential star quarterback biding his time like Young or Rodgers. More so a replacement-level guy who can be a decent starter but not much more.
If Nick Foles leads the NFC No. 6 Eagles to a big upset Sunday at No. 1 New Orleans, let's go ahead and call Foles the best backup in the NFL this century. Of course, Foles stunningly led Philadelphia to its first-ever Super Bowl title a season ago
Should the Eagles lose Sunday as the oddsmakers expect, this surely will be Foles' last game in a Philly uniform. A few of Doc's-affiliated sportsbooks have props on whom the Eagles' QB will next season or where Foles will be. He will NOT be in Philadelphia. Yes, the Eagles hold an option on Foles for 2019, but it's worth $20 million. You can't pay a backup QB, even a Super Bowl MVP, $20 million. Plus, Carson Wentz is eligible for his mega-extension this offseason, and Foles can buy back his option for $2 million. He'll be starting somewhere else in 2019 perhaps as a bridge QB to a rookie, if some team loses its starter during the offseason, or a club wants to cut ties with its current overpaid starter.
A few options? Miami (Ryan Tannehill could be gone), Cincinnati (Andy Dalton could be gone), Jacksonville (no good QBs on roster), Oakland (Derek Carr could be gone), Washington (Alex Smith may never play again) or Detroit (if Matthew Stafford is traded).
Philadelphia is +725 at 5Dimes to win the NFC (strangely ahead of Dallas, which is +885), with New Orleans the -105 favorite. If the Saints win, they host either the Rams or Cowboys next week. Philly goes to that winner.
Eagles at Saints Betting Story Lines
One could argue the Eagles don't belong here. Had the Chicago Bears simply laid down and rested their starters in Week 17, then Minnesota would have been the final NFC Wild Card team, and the Bears probably beat the visiting Vikings last week.
Chicago also should have won on a 43-yard field goal in the final seconds vs. the Eagles - Cody Parkey's first kick was good. However, Doug Pederson had called timeout right before that, so it didn't count. We all know what happened next: Parkey's kick hit the left upright but still had a chance to go through … then hit the crossbar spinning the wrong way and spit forward. Philadelphia 16, Chicago 15. Perhaps the most crushing playoff loss in Bears history.
Then again, the Eagles do belong here because they won their final three games, and Foles led the game-winning drive against the NFL's top defense, hitting Golden Tate on the go-ahead TD on fourth-and-goal from the Bears' 2. Foles is an amazing 3-0 in the past two postseasons when trailing in the second half, while the rest of the league's QBs are 4-15.
There's certainly reason to worry, though, as Foles was picked twice and that Philly running game got nothing going yet again. Chicago's run defense was No. 1 in the regular season. New Orleans was No. 2 and probably would have finished first if not for sitting the starters in Week 17. Indeed, expect the Saints to come out a bit rusty - Eagles plus the points in the first quarter might be wise - as the starters haven't played a meaningful game since Week 16.
Philadelphia has one of the worst secondaries in the NFL because of injuries, and even Mitchell Trubisky lit that group up for 303 yards - the Bears just couldn't punch it in enough. Think of what Drew Brees might do after he set an NFL single-season record for completion percentage (74.4) and led the league in passer rating (115.7).
Eagles at Saints Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes, New Orleans is a 9.5-point favorite (+105) with a total of 50.5. On the moneyline, the Saints are -370 and Eagles +310. Some alternate lines: Saints -10 (+120), -10.5 (+133), -7.5 (-115), -7 (-135) and -6.5 (-155). Philadelphia is 8-9 against the spread (5-4 on road) and 7-10 O/U (5-4 on road). New Orleans is 10-6 ATS (4-4 at home) and 7-9 O/U (5-3 at home).
The Eagles are 5-0 ATS in their past five January games. They are 7-2 ATS in their past nine road playoff games. The Saints are 5-1 ATS in their past six in January. They are 1-4 ATS in their past five overall. The under is 5-2 in Philly's past seven vs. the NFC and 5-1 in New Orleans' past six vs. the conference. The favorite is 4-1 ATS in the previous five meetings.
Eagles at Saints Betting Prediction
Of course, these clubs met Week 11 in New Orleans, and the Saints looked as good in one game as any team this season in a 48-7 destruction - worst-ever loss for a defending Super Bowl champion. I promise this won't be decided by 41 points.
The toughest NFL outdoor stadium to play in for opponents is probably Seattle. The toughest dome has to be New Orleans. The Saints have yet to lose a home playoff game (5-0) under Sean Payton and Brees. They won't here, but only win by a TD. So, take the 7.5 points. Go under the total.
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