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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 7:00 PM

NBC didn’t realize several days ago when they “flexed” Chicago/Philadelphia into their Sunday Night TV window that they might be showcasing a game with a lame duck host! We know for sure that the Chicago Bears need to win, as they battle for the NFC North title with Green Bay and Detroit. Philadelphia?

*The game will be HUGE for the Eagles if Dallas is upset Sunday afternoon at Washington. A Dallas loss followed by a Philadelphia win gives the Eagles the NFC East and a playoff spot.

*The game will be MEANINGLESS for the Eagles if Dallas wins in Washington. They could lose to Chicago, and still win the division by taking out Dallas head-to-head next week. A win over Chicago doesn’t help them at all. As long as the Cowboys beat Washington…next week’s Eagles/Cowboys game is for all the divisional marbles.

Philadelphia head coach Chip Kelly has been telling the media all week that his starters are going to play…and that the team will be going all out to win regardless. It’s good to have that mindset all week just in case Dallas loses. But, if Dallas wins, it’s INSANE to risk injuries to all of your key players one week before a divisional championship game. Maybe Kelly is afraid he’ll get fined by the league for announcing ahead of time he has to tank a prime time TV game.

For NOTEBOOK purposes, let’s assume it’s going to be a real game. Publication deadlines are well ahead of kickoff of Dallas/Washington, let alone Chicago/Philadelphia. For Las Vegas betting purposes, it’s probably best to wait to gather as much information as possible before making a call before kickoff.

Let’s go to the numbers…


Won-Lost Records (strength of schedule)

Chicago: 8-6 (#26 schedule in USA Today)

Philadelphia: 8-6 (#28 schedule in USA Today)

These are very similar teams in all sorts of ways. They have identical records vs. almost identical schedule strengths. They’re led by rookie head coaches who are supposed to be offensive gurus. They’ve been sharper with their initial second string quarterbacks than their initial starters (though Jay Cutler isn’t chopped liver). They’re trying to win their divisions with no shot at a Wildcard.


Yards-Per Play

Chicago: 6.1 on offense, 6.0 on defense

Philadelphia: 6.3 on offense, 5.5 on defense

The Eagles look much better in this stat comparison, with a +0.8 differential compared to +0.1. Much of that is due to Philly’s tendency to pile up the yardage when things are going well (something Oregon was known for while NOT winning any national championships in the colleges). But, it’s certainly clear that Philadelphia has the superior defense. That’s likely to matter if both teams are playing to win.


Turnover Differential

Chicago: +6

Philadelphia: +9

Good job from both teams considering the potential growing pains from transition, and the injuries to the initial starting quarterbacks. The offensive gurus have done a good job with the risk/reward ratio.


Market Performance

Chicago: 4-9-1 ATS

Philadelphia: 7-7 ATS

For some reason, the market was expecting the world from Chicago much of the season…and the team just wasn’t delievering. That mark was 2-9-1 two weeks ago, followed by covers against Dallas and Cleveland. So, recently, the Bears finally are living up to (and surpassing) market expectations. The Eagles have been inconsistent all season, occasionally alternating extremes of greatness and lousiness. Does a bad game at Minnesota last week signal a good game this week?


Current Line: Philadelphia by 3, total 56


The game opened at Philadelphia -4. Sharps hit the Bears hard because of the potential lame duck status for the Eagles. You can see that a shootout is expected. Sharps bet Overs at the opener of 54.5, 55, and 55.5. That money is suggesting weather won’t be an issue. But, monitor forecasts and line moves on game day just in case.

JIM HURLEY will be handling this game with kid gloves. If it shows up early as part of the main package, he’ll have very good reasons for it! You can purchase Sunday’s BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card before kickoff of the early games. If you’d like to talk to a live person about full postseason options, call our handicapping office Sunday morning at 1-888-777-4155.

Back with you tomorrow to run the numbers in Atlanta/San Francisco, the final Monday Night game of the season. Here’s the Christmas Week preview schedule…


Tuesday: Hawaii Bowl with Oregon State vs. Boise State

Wednesday: Special Christmas Day NBA Previews on an off-day for football

Thursday: Poinsettia Bowl with Utah State vs. Northern Illinois

Friday: Fight Hunger Bowl with Washington vs. BYU


The Sunday schedule is LOADED with great NFL action. Be sure you GET THE MONEY with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!

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