Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, November 5, 2012 at 8:00 AM
The Philadelphia Eagles are right on a precipice as they get ready to play the New Orleans Saints on ESPN’s Monday Night football. Sports bettors must determine if they’re going to fall over it…or if they’re going to back away just in time to make a dramatic recovery in the 2012 NFL season.
Some might argue that the Eagles already fell!
Last week’s home loss to Atlanta was particularly troublesome because it came after a bye week…and because it came right after the defensive coordinator had been dispatched in high profile fashion. The team didn’t respond to rest…and they didn’t play with fire after the coaching change. In fact, they barely seemed involved until the game was out of reach!
The deal is…there’s still time to recover. You can make the playoffs from a 3-4 start, particularly in a season where something near .500 might earn a Wildcard within a very tough conference. Win here…and the Eagles can still close very strong from 4-4, reach the postseason, and make history in January. Lose here, and a 3-5 franchise is looking at starting over with new faces.
*Coach Andy Reid will either be fired Tuesday or be allowed to finish out a lame duck season.
*Michael Vick will be benched, which almost happened this week.
*The Eagles will fizzle without fire in a tough division within the stronger conference…possibly to a 10-loss season or worse.
It’s either darkest before the dawn…or the freefall started last week. Here are some numbers handicappers can use to get a better read on the true reality of the Philadelphia story.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES at NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (8:35 p.m. on ESPN)
Las Vegas Spread: New Orleans by 3, total of 52.5
The market rates these teams as even based on that number. Home field advantage is usually worth three points in the NFL. The Saints will sometimes get more than that when they’re firing on all cylinders because they’re so hard to stop indoors on a fast track. That’s not really the story this season…so assume virtual equality in the market Power Ratings.
WON-LOST RECORDS (schedule strength according to USA Today)
Philadelphia: 3-4 (12th ranked schedule)
New Orleans: 2-5 (16th ranked schedule)
Both have been disappointments, with losing records against schedules that rank near league average. Many Preseason pundits tabbed one or both of these teams to make the playoffs. Many in Vegas had Philly rated #1 in the NFC in their August numbers. The Eagles have more in their corner given that they’re one game better against a slightly tougher slate. That data right there suggests a bit of dog value. If the Eagles have mentally thrown in the towel on the season, then the numbers don’t matter.
New Orleans: even
In our Sunday preview of Dallas/Atlanta, we talked about how the Dallas turnover differential was due to at least slow down if not turn around sometime soon. The same thing is true for Vick and the Eagles. They do have issues with fundamentals…but they shouldn’t be THIS bad even with those issues. The league will be scared if they see a cleanly executed game from Philly in the spotlight tonight. New Orleans was a Super Bowl team when they had a great differential. The defense stopped forcing turnovers…and the Saints stopped seeming so scary.
Philadelphia: 363.4 yards-per-game on 5.2 yards-per-play
New Orleans: 388.6 yards-per-game on 5.8 yards-per-play
Clear edge to the Saints here…who are up close to 400 yards per game while not having horrible turnover problems. They’re more likely to produce…and they’re more likely to play a cleaner game. Those of you who love betting cheap home favorites are starting to salivate. Keep the steaks in the freezer until you see the defensive numbers.
Philadelphia: 339.6 yards-per-game on 5.2 yards-per-play
New Orleans: 474.7 yards-per-game on 6.7 yards-per-play
That’s not a typo. A little bit of overtime has polluted the yards-per-game number…but the Saints are still horrible in regulation! And, a number like 6.7 per-play allowed shouldn’t even be possible in the NFL this deep into the season. The Saints defense has been absolutely abysmal. Seriously, if Vick and the Eagles can’t get things moving this week, about 20 guys need to lose their jobs!
LAST WEEK’S BOXES
ATLANTA 30, PHILADELPHIA 17
Total Yardage: Atlanta 392, Philadelphia 270
Rushing Yards: Atlanta 146, Philadelphia 92
Passing Stats: Atlanta 22-29-0-246, Philadelphia 21-35-0-178
Turnovers: Atlanta 0, Philadelphia 0
Third Downs: Atlanta 54%, Philadelphia 46%
Vegas Line: Philadelphia by 3, total of 42
You’ll recall these numbers from yesterday’s preview of the Falcons game. The Eagles were outgained badly, and didn’t really get much going until the game was out of reach. The good news is that they avoided turnovers. Among the bad news, the defense was invisible just after losing their coordinator…and the offense only passed for 178 yards on 35 attempts.
DENVER 34, NEW ORLEANS 14
Total Yardage: New Orleans 252, Denver 530
Rushing Yards: New Orleans 51, Denver 225
Passing Stats: New Orleans 22-42-1-201, Denver 22-30-0-305
Turnovers: New Orleans 1, Denver 1
Third Downs: New Orleans 8%, Denver 38%
Vegas Line: Denver by 6.5, total of 55
You probably watched the game…or at least enough of it to see how great Peyton Manning looked against the horrible Saints defense. The big surprise to us was the 1 of 12 performance from the Saints on third downs. New Orleans had just defeated Tampa Bay…so it’s not like the team had thrown in the towel on the season. They sure gave up the ghost quickly here in terms of trying to stay competitive. You don’t often see yardage advantages of that size in the NFL.
Michael Vick has had big games in his career vs. good defenses. He can certainly have a big game here against a bad one. The problem is…so much uncertainly is floating over the Eagles that there really isn’t a “best expectation” you can point to. There are two clear pathways where the best expectation is obvious once you see how hard the Eagles are trying. Philly can win this game, covering comfortably, if everyone’s finally on the same page and ready to get the job done. Things can get very ugly very quickly in the other direction if the emotional fork is already in their backs. Remember how big Drew Brees can win when the other team is turning the ball over.
JIM HURLEY has been working very closely with his Philadelphia sources this week to get the right read on the Eagles’ mindset. Information means EVERYTHING in this Monday Nighter. This game will likely be a double digit cover in one direction or the other because of the volatility involved. You can purchase the final word right here at this website for just $20 with your credit card. The best from the NBA will also be available Monday afternoon. Among the options for serious play are Knicks/Sixers, Jazz/Grizzlies, and Pacers/Spurs. If you have any questions about our football or basketball programs, call the office at 1-800-323-4453.
Back with you Tuesday when we’ll either update an important football theme or talk about the NBA (and the start to the 2012-13 has been amazing already!). Don’t forget that college basketball starts FRIDAY with a schedule that includes Michigan State-Connecticut, Ohio State-Marquette, and Maryland-Kentucky! A busy schedule is about to get even busier at your worldwide leader in sports betting analysis…JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!