The Patriots opened as 4.5-point favorites as they travel to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles in Week 12.
As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, I thought it’d be an appropriate time to list all of the things I’m thankful for as a Patriots fan. I’m thankful we’re 7-3 and have a very good chance at hosting a Divisional Round playoff game. I’m thankful that the best quarterback we have to face the rest of the regular season is either Tim Tebow or Ryan Fitzpatrick. I’m thankful that the second-best team in our division is the Jets, whom we’ve already beaten twice (by at least two scores each time). I’m thankful our head coach is not a fat arrogant underperforming loudmouth with a foot fetish who can’t control his mouth or focus his team of miscreants and probably smells like BO and rotting animal carcass. And I’m thankful that our defense is looking less like a gaping mortal chest wound over the past several weeks.
The Eagles will present a few challenges for the Pats this week as New England comes off a short week. Philly has one of the league’s best rushing attacks, and if all components of the Eagles passing attack are back at full strength, the corners and safeties will have their hands full. Holding this unit under 20 would be asking a bunch. The Eagles also do a good job of getting after the quarterback with 29 sacks on the year. And their cornerbacks need no introduction.
Philly will have a number of factors working in their favor, but they also have a few big matchup problems. Their safety play has been below average, and their linebackers are a miserable collection of abject failure. It probably won’t be a huge week for Welker and the receivers, but Christmas could come early for Gronkowski and Hernandez. The Eagles have also been vulnerable to the run. The Patriots excel at running out of the hurry-up, and they should be able to create plenty of room for the running backs when the Eagles put their nickel package on the field.
The Eagles have also been sloppy this year, ranking 28th in turnover margin and making a number of bonehead mistakes at crucial points in several contests. New England is likely to win the turnover battle and commit fewer penalties, and that could be enough to swing a close game in their favor. You could make the argument that Andy Reid has done a worse job of disciplining his team than the job he’s done disciplining his kids.
This is a bit of a trap game for the Pats, and the Eagles could very well win outright. Even if the Eagles don’t win, their offense should give them an opportunity for a backdoor cover if they are trailing in the fourth quarter. Half of their losses have come by four or fewer points, and all but one game has been within a score. I’m picking the Eagles to cover.
Other Lines I Like This Week
Jets (-8) vs. Bills
The Bills are hurting in a bad way. They’ve lost arguably their three best defenders for the season, they lost their starting center on Sunday, and every member of their WR corps is dinged up as well. Fitzpatrick has struggled mightily with his accuracy. After being outscored by a combined 79-15 the past two weeks, there’s no circling these wagons. All the wheels have already fallen off.
Broncos (+6.5) @ Chargers
I’m sticking with my theory about Denver’s offense – they’ll struggle mightily against teams that have a good run D, and they’ll struggle epically against teams that can get good pressure while rushing four. Otherwise, they’ll plod along and put up 20 or so points on the scoreboard while looking like a team that should be wearing leather helmets and playing on a 7-inch black-and-white TV. The Chargers have just 19 sacks on the year and give up 124 yards rushing per game and 4.4 yards per carry. The San Diego offense is also as careful with the football as Casey Anthony is with her children (was that too soon?). Score this one for the leather helmets.
Panthers (-4) @ Colts
Newton may be in the process of hitting a rookie wall after throwing just one TD in his past two starts, and I still believe that defensive coordinators are starting to catch up with this offense quickly. I fully expect to fade the Panthers a lot in the second half of the season. With that said, the Colts defense is so bad, they might not be able to shut down a Big Ten offense. The Indy D has the worst TD:INT ratio in the league, and their pass rush has been anemic. The Colts also have the league’s second-lowest scoring offense. Suck for Luck has already been decided. The real race now is Lose for Landry (doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, but I think it could still catch on … you heard it here first).
Redskins (+4) @ Seahawks
I like the Redskins a whole lot more with Grossman under center (you can place that last sentence in the file marked “Things you can only say when John Beck is the other quarterback”). Washington has averaged nearly 20 points per game when Rex starts and finishes under center, compared to just 11 points per game under Beck. The Seahawks don’t generate a great pass rush, and when Rex has time, he can do a pretty decent impression of an NFL quarterback. The Redskins do an adequate job of shutting down the run, and that is the key to Seattle’s offense. I think the Redskins can keep this game close and possibly win outright.
2011 Record ATS 28-27-3
2010 Record ATS 25-17-1