By Justin Mark, SGPN Football Handicapper
Week 1 may have given me more questions about the Eagles than answers. On one hand, they were second in the league in scoring week one, behind only the Chiefs. They were third in total yards, third in rushing yards, and had 27 first downs. On the other hand, the defense that was supposed to be improved gave up the third most points at 35, allowed 181 rushing yards, and 386 total yards, landing them at the 22nd worst defensive performance of the weekend.
The offense was as advertised. They ran the ball well and A.J. Brown showed why he was worth acquiring in the offseason. If you tailed my picks last week, we went 1-1, and while I don’t want to make excuses, we should have gone 2-0 had the Eagles not allowed the Lions to rally and score 14 points in the fourth quarter. Moving on from playing against Jared Goff and his questionable wide receiver room, the Eagles now get Kirk Cousins and one of the best wide receivers in the league, Justin Jefferson.
Key Defensive Matchup
While I expect the Eagles to make some adjustments, Monday night doesn’t get easier than Sunday. Justin Jefferson just torched the Packers to the tune of nine receptions for 184 yards and two touchdowns. I expect the Eagles will work hard on limiting him. He’s the type of player who likely can’t be stopped by any cornerback, only limited. The Eagles should put cornerback James Bradberry on Jefferson while allowing C.J. Gardner-Johnson to play overtop at safety, effectively limiting his big play potential. If they’re able to do this, it will be on Jordan Davis, Fletcher Cox, and the rest of the front seven to slow Dalvin Cook and pressure Kirk Cousins into mistakes.
Key Offensive Matchup
The offensive line performed very well against the Lions as the Eagles racked up 216 rushing yards. They are the most important part of this offense. They face a defense that limited Aaron Rodgers and company to just seven points and only 111 yards. For the Eagles, it was nice to see Miles Sanders run the ball so well as he had 13 carries for 96 yards and a touchdown. Sanders’ 7.4 yards per carry is better than any game he had over ten carries in the last year. As expected, Jalen Hurts also got involved in the run game, rushing the ball 17 times for 90 yards and a touchdown. The Eagles had four ball carriers who ran for a touchdown, including Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott.
This is going to be a tough matchup for the Eagles and a long night if they don’t limit Justin Jefferson. However, historically, Kirk Cousins struggles in primetime games. His record in primetime is 8-17 and I think the trend continues despite his strong performance last Sunday. WynnBet has the Eagles as 2.5-point favorites. This week I’m taking the Eagles -2.5 and over 51 points. I like the Eagles on the Moneyline (to just win the game) as well.
While the prop bets aren’t available yet, as soon as Jalen Hurts’ rushing total is out, I would take it. He’s a dynamic athlete who always seems to have a great chance of exceeding fifty rushing yards. I expect his total to be in the range of under or over 49.5 yards.
Another recommendation – The Falcons at +10.5 over the L.A. Rams. The Falcons showed they will be a competitive team this year and the Rams looked lost in their Week 1 opener against the Bills. 10 points are too many. You can find all of the SGPN crew’s picks here.
Justin Mark is co-host of SGPN Fantasy Football’s show “Old-Fashioned Football” and a writer for the Sports Gambling Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @JMarkFootball and The Sports Gambling Podcast @GamblingPodcast.
Photo credit: Icon Sportswire (Jalen Hurts photo)