Is Vegas giving Eagles too much respect?
When I wrote about the Philadelphia Eagles back in Week 6 for my debut column, they were 1-4, 28th in the NFL Sweat Barometer (data provided by Sal Selvaggio of MadduxSports.com) with a number of minus-6.8 and the biggest disappointment in the NFL.
Fast forward to Week 15 and the "Dream Team" is 5-8, still three games below .500, clinging to playoff life (2.9 percent according to Insider's Playoffs Predictor) and 27th in the Sweat Barometer with a number of minus-3.12.
Still, at home this week they opened at pick 'em against an 8-5 New York Jets squad that is fighting to keep the No. 6 seed in the AFC. That line was quickly bet up to Eagles -2.5, where it stands currently. Which led me to the inevitable question: Are the Eagles getting too much respect from Vegas?
Jay Kornegay, one of the voters in the Vegas NFL Rankings (which has the Eagles at No. 11), believes that Philly is still an above-average team and that the Jets have had consistency issues. Thus, the line is fair.
The public is divided so far, with 57 percent of bets on the Jets.
Geoff Kulesa of Wunderdogsports.com thinks the line seems generous: "Should the Eagles, sitting at 1-5 at home and allowing nearly 25 points per game, be favored here? I think it's questionable."
Regardless of opinion on the line, the Eagles are clearly a different team when Michael Vick is healthy. In the games that he's played all four quarters, they're 4-4 SU and ATS and averaging almost 25 points a game; however, in games in which he's been out or gotten injured, they're 1-4 SU and ATS and averaged just 19.6 points per game.
The Jets have won their last three games (2-1 ATS), behind a defense that is rated No. 2 in DVOA by Football Outsiders, but they are just 2-4 ATS on the road this season.
As Kulesa points out, the best play here might be on the total: "Under Rex Ryan, the Jets are 11-3 ATS when coming off a home win. But, Philly's in a good situational spot here. December teams under .580 that are not a big underdog (getting 5.5 points or more) playing a team over .550 are 63.4 percent ATS (166-96) since 1980. This game could really go either way. If you are looking for a play, the over might be of interest. The Jets are 32-18 to the over in all games with Ryan at the helm and in expected close games like this one (line of plus-3 to minus-3), the Jets are 16-4 to the over."
Here is the Week 15 NFL Sweat Barometer: