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Philadelphia Eagles vs. Carolina Panthers Preview and Pick

Philadelphia Eagles (0-0) vs. Carolina Panthers (0-0), 1:00 p.m. EST, Sunday, September 13, 2009, Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C., TV: FOX
by Badger of

Point Spread: Eagles -1.5/Panthers +1.5
Over/Under: 43.5

To the NFL purist, the highlight game on the week one schedule this Sunday, as far as the NFC is concerned, will be played in Charlotte at Bank of America Stadium where the Carolina Panthers will host the Philadelphia Eagles in a battle of two playoff teams from last season.

The Eagles seem to be a very trendy pick this season despite playing in the brutal NFC East, as the addition of Michael Vick, Jeremy Macklin and a few lineman (Jason Peters, Stacy Andrews) to reload what was already one of the leagueís best offenses seems to be very popular with the pundits.

Last year the Panthers won the NFC South with a 12-4 record and had one of the NFLís top running back duos in DeAngelo Williams and James Stewart, but as they say Ö last year was last year. Carolina just ended a terrible training camp and preseason, Stewart is hurt to start this season and the Panthers defense has already been ravaged by season-ending injuries, itís already a high-wire act in Panther- land this year.

The point spread in this game has seen significant line movement, opening with the Panthers as slim 1-point favorites at home. But early action has caused the oddsmaker to reverse course and now itís the Eagles as high as 2-point favorites on the road (most offshore sportsbooks are still Eagles minus 1.5-points).

The over/under total has moved a point as well, opening at 44.5 only to drop to 43.5 after the early money at the window caused it to drop.

Philly head coach Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg must love scripting their offensive game plan each week, with the additions of Vick and Macklin to mainstay weapons Brain Westbrook, DeSean Jackson and underrated tight end Brent Celek. Quarterback Donovan McNabb is going to have a huge year, and the addition of Peters and Andrews proves they mean business.

Carolinaís offense will be without a full-speed Stewart at backup running back to start the season, but otherwise the Panthers should be as potent as ever when they have the rock. Williams and his ability to hit big touchdown runs on any given play is what makes them dangerous, otherwise quarterback Jake Delhomme has a nice complement of veteran receivers in Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammad and the Panthers are content to play field-position football.

Defensively both teams come into the opener with questions.

Carolina is down a nose guard, linebackers Jon Beason (questionable) and Thomas Davis (probable) didnít play a snap in the preseason, and the Panthers donít have enough money to get veteran help because they put the franchise tag on end Julius Peppers to keep him on the team.

The question the Eagles defense must answer is can they still be the same without Jim Johnson calling the blitzes? Johnson, who is taking a year off while he battles cancer, was a master at in-game blitz calls, a skill new coordinator Sean McDermott may not have right away. The Eagles will also move on without safety Brian Dawkins in the secondary, someone they may be able replace on the field, but maybe not as a leader in locker room.

If youíre looking for meaningful betting trends for the game, good luck. They have a small sample size of just six games and the numbers go nowhere.

These two teams havenít played a regular season game against each other since 2006, when the Eagles won at home by a 24-13 score. In six lifetime meetings the Eagles are 4-2 SU and 4-2 ATS against the Panthers. The over/under is a dead even 3-3.

Two of those six games were played in Charlotte before, once in 1999 ( a 33-7 Panthers win) and once in 2003 ( a 25-16 Eagles win), for a dead 1-1 ATS and 1-1 O/U.

Badgerís Pick: The Eagles havenít played very well on the road the last few years, and everyone seems to be counting out the Panthers early. I like bucking the trend, so Iím taking the home dog here. Take Carolina plus the 2 points.

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