By Justin Mark, SGPN Football Handicapper
What a performance by the Eagles! They didn’t just win to get into the NFC Championship game but they obliterated their division rival. In a 38-7 drubbing, the Eagles showed why they are one of the most feared teams in the NFL this year. The defense was swarming, limiting the Giants to 135 passing yards and 118 rushing yards. Meanwhile, the offense rushed the ball for 268 yards. They controlled the game from start to finish. Now, they’ll face another one of the hot teams in the NFL, the San Francisco 49ers, with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.
I expected the Giants to show up to the game. I’m not sure they ever got off their bus, to be honest. They didn’t cover the spread as I expected and didn’t put enough effort into helping the Eagles cover the over, which missed by three points. However, we hit big on our +370 (risk $10 to win $37) Boston Scott anytime touchdown. We also hit on the Devonta Smith prop with over 5.5 receptions. Now, it’s on to Sunday at 3 p.m. at Lincoln Financial Field.
Key Defensive Matchup
I wish there was a certain player I could highlight that the Eagles’ defense needs to key on. However, the 49ers have a plethora of options. In fact, they almost have as many offensive playmakers as the Eagles. Almost. Former Iowa State Cyclone, and “Mr. Irrelevant” as the last player selected in April’s draft, Brock Purdy has stepped in and done an amazing job for the 49ers. While they are thought of as a run-first team, the Niners have the 13th most passing yards per game. He has a lot of talent to throw to, including Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle. The Eagles’ cornerbacks will need to be on their game.
However, the 49ers can also run the ball very well. A midseason trade that sent Christian McCaffrey to the 49ers from the Panthers elevated their rushing game even more. They also have a talented second-year ball carrier, Elijah Mitchell. These two have helped the 49ers’ offense to the seventh most rushing yards per game in the NFL. Given that the Eagles’ defense has been very good against the pass, they will need to focus on stopping the run and forcing Brock Purdy to throw the ball often.
Key Offensive Matchup
Speaking of a team with a lot of offensive weapons, the Eagles have had the fifth-most rushing yards per game and the eighth-most passing yards. That includes the time when star quarterback Jalen Hurts was out. Last week, he threw for two touchdowns and rushed for another. They have multiple runners who can make a difference, including Miles Sanders, Kenneth Gainwell, Boston Scott and Jalen Hurts.
While they’re dangerous on the ground, they are just as dangerous in the air. A.J. Brown, Devonta Smith, and Dallas Goedert comprise maybe the best three-headed monster in the league. With Hurts throwing to them, the offense has scored the second-most points per game in the NFL. The 49ers’ defense is very good against the run. Therefore, I expect the Eagles to rely on Hurts’ arm as he slings it to the receivers. Getting big chunk plays in the passing game will be key to a victory.
Many expected the 49ers to be the favored team this week, but instead, it’s the Eagles giving points. This is going to be a close game between the two best teams in the NFC. Sirianni has not been named a finalist for coach of the year, a snub that I find unbelievably disrespectful. His team will want to show up for him.
Looking at lines on WynnBet this week, the Moneyline is -145 (risk $14.50 to win $10), which is good value as I think the Eagles will win the game and advance to the Super Bowl. The spread is set with the Eagles being 2.5-point favorites. This one has the feeling of being a three-point game, but I’m not falling into the trap of backing the other team and their points like I did last week. I’m taking Eagles -2.5. The total for the game is 46. While both these teams are the number one and number two in the NFL in points per game, I think this will be a defensive battle. I like the under.
With hitting two of three props last week, and being nine yards away from three of three, the pressure is on. The first prop I like has to do with the fact that I think the Eagles will throw the ball to beat this defense. Jalen Hurts over 1.5 passing touchdowns (-105) feels solid. This team is also known for some big plays, so I like taking Hurts’ longest completion over 37.5 yards (-120). There’s no doubt in my mind Christian McCaffrey will get a lot of touches. They traded for him and kept him fresh for the biggest games, like this one. Christian McCaffrey over 60.5 rushing yards (-115) is my 49ers’ prop bet.
Justin Mark is co-host of SGPN Fantasy Football’s show “Old-Fashioned Football”, and co-host of a show on the NFL Gambling Podcast, as well as co-host of the XFL Gambling Podcast. He’s also a writer for the Sports Gambling Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @JMarkFootball and The Sports Gambling Podcast @GamblingPodcast.
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