New England Patriots vs. Philadelphia Eagles Pick 11/15/19
New England Patriots (8-1 SU, 6-3 ATS) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (5-4 SU, 4-5 ATS)
Date/Time: Sunday, November 17th, 4:25 PM
Where: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA
Point Spread: NE -3.5 / PHI +3.5 (BetNow)
Over/Under Total: 44.5
The Patriots head to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles in a Sunday afternoon showdown at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles have a 7-6 upper hand in the series and have won the last two matchups between the teams, including their most recent contest in Super Bowl LII that Philadelphia took home for their first-ever NFL championship.
DIVISION TITLE WITHIN REACH
The Eagles enter week eleven of the NFL season tied with Dallas for the NFC East lead with a 5-4 record. Of the seven games they have remaining, three should be a challenge (New England, Seattle, Dallas), while the other four should theoretically be easy wins (Miami, Washington, and the Giants twice). Considering the consistency issues facing the Cowboys, who also have a more difficult end of the year schedule than the Eagles, if Philly is able to hold serve, they should have a chance of winning the division even with a 10-6 or even 9-7 record.
WENTZ AND RECEIVER QUESTIONS
Leading the way for the Eagles offense is quarterback Carson Wentz, who on the season has thrown for 15 touchdowns compared to just four interceptions. A Wentz turnover has a direct correlation to the teams’ success this season, as they are 5-1 when he doesn’t throw a pick and 0-3 when he does. This will be a particular concern this week against a Patriots team that leads the league in turnover margin with a mark of +17, and since 2001 has gone 92-2 when posting a positive turner ratio in a game.
Who Wentz will be able to throw this week remains up in the air, as lead wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey is questionable with an ankle injury, and even if he does play how much of an effect he will have also is in question as he has scored just once touchdown since September. This is a particular issue considering the team already lost Desean Jackson for the season, which only leaves Nelson Agholor for healthy receiver options, which isn’t a great option to have as butterfingers Agholor has just 14 receptions and zero touchdowns over the past seven weeks. This puts extra pressure on the tight end position, where thankfully, they have two options in one of the leagues best in Zach Ertz along with rookie red zone threat Dallas Goedert. After a three week rut, Ertz broke out in their last win against Chicago and promised to gain extra attention from the Patriots defense as the best player on the team, which will likely mean another Wentz target option will have to step up if they have a chance to match points with the Patriots.
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Ranked 11th in the NFL, compared to 21st for the passing game, the Eagles running game has become the needed strength of the offense. Power back and offseason acquisition Jordan Howard is the main rushing option and has posted 526 yards on the ground while scoring six touchdowns. Their top option through the air out of the backfield is rookie Miles Sanders, who has over 300 yards both rushing and receiving while also getting into the end zone twice. If Jeffery isn’t able to play on Sunday, even more emphasis will likely be put on the Eagles backfield, which will the performance of Howard and Sanders should go a long way in determining their chance of Sunday success.
REASON TO WORRY
One area for concern for the Eagles will be how their banged-up defense will handle the Patriots offense. All five of Philadelphia’s wins were against teams in the bottom half of the league in total offense while also four of their losses were against teams in the top half. They have allowed at least 27 points in six of their last seven games, with the only matchup that it didn’t happen against the lowly New York Jets and their anemic offense. If that trend continues, Philadelphia could be in a lot of trouble, as the Patriots are 29-2 in their last 31 games when scoring more than 20 points.
FIRST OF THE YEAR
While the Eagles come into this weekend riding a two games win streak, the Patriots are coming off their first loss of the season, a 37-20 defeat at Baltimore. They were driving to take the lead in the second half down 24-20, but a Julian Edelman fumble eventually killed any chance of a comeback, and New England went home with the defeat. It will be interesting to see what happens if they face the Ravens again in the playoffs, as Lamar Jackson’s last three losses were all against teams he was meeting for the second time. Historically speaking, the Patriots have done exceptionally well following a loss, having gone 44-8 in their last 52 games in such a scenario.
RUNNING ON EMPTY
The Patriots rushing attack continues to be a concern for the team, with lead back Sony Michel averaging just 3.3 yards per carry as his sophomore slump continues. Michel has averaged over four yards per carry just once in a game all year and has scored in only one game in his past four. Rex Burkhead could continue to see an uptick in carries with an average of a yard more per carry than Michel, while James White remains one of the best options out of the backfield through the air in the league. It sure doesn’t say much that cement footed Tom Brady is second in the team in rushing touchdowns with three.
Mohammed Sanu hasn’t wasted any time making an impact with the Patriots offense, recording 12 catches for 104 yards and a score through his first two games as he has clearly already established a good connection with Tom Brady. This is well needed for the Patriots passing attack as Julian Edelman has 90 targets on the season, but the next highest wide receiver on the team is Phillip Dorsett with 37. Despite only being there for a duo of games, Sanu has the third-highest amount of targets of any active wideout with 19 and should continue to see plenty of targets on a weekly basis considering the lack of experience behind himself, Edelman and Dorsett on the depth charts.
New England has found success in recent weeks going with a no-huddle offense, a scenario in which Tom Brady is making the calls at the line rather than the predictable play-calling coming from offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. They will hope not to fall into another scenario where going no-huddle is a forced decision due to falling behind big as they did against Baltimore, but it’s a great sign to see for the down the road play to know they can rely on Brady to make the right calls when gameplay dictates it, whether with the lead or down in the game.
THE FINAL DECISION
With both teams coming off a bye week, it’s worth mentioning some notable trends regarding each. You would think that the extra week of rest of preparation would help most, but from 2014-2018 teams off a bye week were just 84-76. The Eagles have gone just 2-3 over their last five games after a bye, while the Patriots are 14-4 in their last eighteen, including a 7-2 mark on the road both straight up and against the spread. New England, especially the defense, has had to listen for the last two weeks about how they were just overrated due to a soft schedule and should be plenty fired up to take on a Philadelphia team that is injury-depleted on both offense and defense. With all that in mind, I expect the Patriots to come away with a road win and cover on Sunday against the Eagles and get their season back on track toward a fourth consecutive Super Bowl appearance.
Mike’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: New England -3.5