Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, September 14, 2014 at 1:00 PM
Two playoff teams from last season…with their eyes on going deeper in the brackets this year…will square off Monday Night when the defending NFC East champion Philadelphia Eagles visit the defending AFC South champion Indianapolis Colts.
The Eagles earned a home game last year in the brackets, but couldn’t get past Wildcard New Orleans in the first round. The Colts earned a home game too, needing it for a miraculous come-from-behind victory over Kansas City before losing on the road at New England.
Both teams are obviously looking forward. But, they’d better keep an eye on the teams behind them too! Philadelphia played a soft schedule last year, and is running an offense that might be “solved” by defenses after a summer of looking at game film. Indianapolis sure can’t afford to fall to 0-2 with potentially improved Tennessee starting to talk-the-talk in their division.
Great matchup…involving two teams who could both be involved in dramatic storylines as the season develops. Let’s review the numbers from their season openers to see if there are any handicapping angles worth noting.
Won-Lost Records (Strength of Schedule)
Philadelphia: 1-0 (rallied late to beat Jacksonville at home 34-17)
Indianapolis: 0-1 (rallied late but still lost at Denver 31-24)
No surprises there…as the Eagles were favored by about 10 points and Indianapolis was an underdog of more than a touchdown. Both teams topped market expectations…though Philadelphia made it interesting by falling behind 17-0 in the first half. That’s right, 34 straight points to cover the spread!
Philadelphia: 5.1 on offense, 4.3 on defense
Indianapolis: 5.8 on offense, 5.2 on defense
When you factor in strength of schedule here…Indianapolis comes out looking much better. If you’re +0.6 on the road at altitude against a Super Bowl team…that’s certainly much more impressive than being +0.8 at home against one of the worst teams in the league. The Eagles were par for the course…while the Colts were quietly performing better than you probably realized (helped some by facing a garbage time defense).
This is bad. Both teams are on the wrong side of equality in the risk/reward area. It’s at least understandable for the Colts in such a tough road setting against a great quarterback. The Eagles lost this category to the lowly Jaguars! Last season, the Eagles were partly able to make a big splash because their high-octane offense avoided turnovers. If defenses have adjusted, and are now going to get more takeaways…the Eagles could flop very quickly. Be sure you monitor that angle as the Eagles square off against legitimate opponents.
Philadelphia: covered as 10-point favorites thanks to a late gift TD
Indianapolis: covered at game day pointspreads of +7.5 and +8
We already mentioned this at the top. Both got the money…but you can’t really say that the market was way off the mark in terms of evaluating the teams. Remember that both teams had to score the last TD to get the money or we would have been looking at 0-2 against the spread. No sign yet that either is likely to be overrated or underrated from this point forward.
Current Line: Indianapolis by 3, total of 54.5
The pointspread has been right at a field goal all week, which means the market sees the teams as almost dead even (home field advantage is worth a field goal in Las Vegas pricing). It will be very interesting to see if either side steps up and makes a statement under the Monday night spotlight. We may well see that defenses have figured out a lot about containing this Eagles attack. Or, we could see a high scoring shootout featuring up-and-coming star quarterbacks. This isn’t necessarily a titanic showdown of league superpowers…but it could turn out to be one of the most interesting Monday Night games all season because "the next generation” of league superpowers might be announcing its arrival.
JIM HURLEY doesn’t have to announce his arrival in the field of sports handicapping. He’s been making fortunes for clients for more than 25 years! That’s particularly been true on Monday Nights…the single most important betting night of the entire week for gamblers who understand the inner workings of maximizing their money-making.
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Tuesdays and Wednesdays will cover open topics until the baseball playoffs begin in October. Prime time previews are set for Thursdays through Mondays here in the NOTEBOOK. We’ll decide on the fly whether to dip into the pennant races the next few days or provide reactions to developments from the past weekend. There need to be more days in the week! Coming up…
Tuesday: College Football Notes or MLB Pennant Race Game Preview
Wednesday: NFL Notes or MLB Pennant Race Game Preview
Thursday: NFL Thursday Night TV Preview…Tampa Bay at Atlanta
Friday: College Football Early Look…probably Florida at Alabama
Saturday: College Football TV Preview…Clemson at Florida State or Mississippi State at LSU
Sunday: NFL Sunday Night TV Preview…Pittsburgh at Carolina
Monday: NFL Monday Night TV Preview…Chicago at the NY Jets
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