By Justin Mark, SGPN Football Handicapper
After going 10-1 over three weeks, the scales balanced a bit and we didn’t hit a bet last week. Chicago played this one close and the game remained low-scoring. However, I do question the Eagles’ play calling. The Bears are not good at stopping the run, yet after the first half, Miles Sanders had barely touched the ball. It was a weird game script on a cold day and we are just happy the Eagles came away with a win. However, it came at a price.
Jalen Hurts reportedly has a sprained shoulder and will likely miss the big divisional rematch against the Cowboys. All Eagles’ fans are nervous to see how the offense will go without the potential MVP. Don’t forget, this Eagles franchise has had success with backup quarterbacks in big spots before, and Gardner Minshew has plenty of starting experience.
Key Defensive Matchup
The Cowboys lost in overtime last week because of turnovers. The key to beating this Dallas team is stopping the run and forcing Dak Prescott to make bad decisions. The Eagles’ main defensive focus should be limiting Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard. This will force the Cowboys to throw the ball and rely on Dak. Since coming back from injury in Week 7, he has thrown 10 interceptions, including two in three of his last four games. Winning the turnover margin will be crucial, and the Eagles’ defense is plenty capable. With 13 interceptions on the year, the defense hasn’t had one in three games. They’ll look to return to the form that defeated Dallas the first time this year. In Week 6, the Eagles turned Cooper Rush over three times. The good news is, they have been getting to the quarterback all year with sacks. In fact, the only game they didn’t have a sack was against Dallas. Look for that to change this week.
Key Offensive Matchup
With Gardner Minshew starting in place of injured Jalen Hurts, the focus has to be on the run. Last week, the Eagles didn’t utilize the ground game enough, leading to a much closer contest than they would have liked. . The Eagles must feed Miles Sanders and, in doing so, alleviate some of the pressure on Minshew. Even though he missed it last week, Sanders’ rushing prop is another one I like.
A divisional road match-up isn’t ideal for the Eagles, who are trying to maintain their number one seed for the playoffs. However, a win with a backup quarterback would give this team the momentum to soar into the playoffs.
Looking at lines on WynnBet this week, the MoneyLine is +200 (risk $10 to win $200), which I am taking as I feel the Eagles get the upset. This is the first time the Birds are underdogs all season. Minshew is a talented guy who is playing for a potential starting job on a different team next year. I’m also taking the Eagles +6. The total for the game is 46.5. Last week the Eagles didn’t capitalize on a lesser defense, however, I believe they get fired up for this divisional matchup. I think both teams will find the end zone and score enough points, so I like the over.
The Eagles need to focus on the run to take pressure off of Gardner Minshew. They can do that by feeding Miles Sanders. The Props aren’t available yet, but I expect the Sanders over/under will be 68.5 yards rushing. I’ll take the over. With props being limited, I also like the Eagles to jump ahead early on. Give me the Eagles to be winning at the end of the first half. Eagles 1st half MoneyLine +170.
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, which airs every Wednesday at 3:30 Eastern time on YouTube. He’s also a writer for the Sports Gambling Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @JMarkFootball and The Sports Gambling Podcast @GamblingPodcast.