New England Patriots (7-3 SU, 6-4 ATS) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (4-6 SU, 4-6 ATS), 4:15 p.m. EST, Week 12 NFL, Sunday, November 27, 2011, Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pa., TV: CBS
by Badger, Sports Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NE -3/Philly +3
Over/Under Total: 50
Bet the Pats/Eagles game using your credit card at a sportsbook that CAN and WILL get it to work for deposits: BetOnline.
The New England Patriots will try and improve their position at the top of the AFC playoff picture when they travel to Lincoln Financial Field to take on the Philadelphia Eagles in an AFC-NFC showdown Sunday afternoon on CBS.
With a remaining schedule of five games all against teams that are .500 or worse, the game against Philly could be the last real test of the regular season for Tom Brady and the Patriots, who will go into Sundays game at the Linc with a two-game win streak including a 34-3 victory over Kansas City on last weeks Monday Night Football.
New Englands win over the Chiefs on Monday turned out just like most people expected, it just took longer than expected to get the job done. Ahead just 10-3 at halftime, Brady and the Pats scored 24 unanswered points in the second half and the defense intercepted the Chiefs new starting QB Tyler Palko three times to turn the game into a lopsided rout in the final 30 minutes.
The Eagles will provide a stiff challenge for the Patriots, even though at 4-6 they face long odds at getting back into the NFC playoff picture themselves. Lets not forget that the Eagles were billed as the dream team with all of their offseason free agent signings, and although it hasnt translated into wins on the field they are still a very dangerous team capable of putting a scare into the Patriots and Brady if they dont come ready to play.
The Eagles ability and pride was on display last Sunday night when they snapped a two-game losing streak with a 17-10 victory over the New York Giants, despite not having starting quarterback Michael Vick in the game. Vince Young threw three interceptions and looked shaky at times leading the offense, but the Eagles defense tortured the Giants Eli Manning and finally played a full 60-minute game in order to make the Eagles limited offensive output stand in the win.
With Vick still listed as questionable nursing fractured ribs, Young might get another chance to play better this week. But the Eagles defense will face a much bigger challenge trying to contain Brady, who despite what Eli Manning thinks, is light years ahead of what the Giants threw at them last weekend.
With the uncertainty surrounding the Eagles quarterback situation, whether Vick will play or not, most sportsbooks still have this game off the board. There are a few offshore sportsbooks taking bets with the Patriots as listed 3-point favorites on the road, but those sportsbooks are very few, and youll also be paying extra juice on that number if you choose to play on it this early.
The over/under total is off the board right now too.
Handicapping this game without knowing all of the variables going into the game makes it an exercise of speculation.
What we do know is that the Patriots offense and Brady are one of the most dangerous offenses in the NFL game right now. Theyre not exactly the unit that was putting up 500 yard passing games and 40 points like they were earlier in the season, but they are still very formidable.
But the Eagles defense is built to stop teams like the Patriots, with corners Asante Samuel and Nnamdi Asomugha more than able to match up with the Patriots receivers on the outside. Philly is also very capable of knocking Brady out of the comfort of the pocket with ends Jason Babin and Trent Cole bringing pressure off the edge and Mike Patterson and Cullen Jenkins up the middle.
The big question is whether or not middle linebacker Jamar Chaney and safeties Kurt Coleman and Nate Allen can contain the Patriots tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. Hernandez and Gronkowski are matchup nightmares for defenses, and Coleman has his issues in coverage from time to time, so this is likely where this game will turn for whichever team makes the right adjustments and plays the better game.
We also know that when the Eagles have the ball they are going to lean on the legs of LeSean McCoy to carry the offense, especially if Vick isnt ready to go and they have to play Young at QB again. McCoy ran for 113 yards in the win over the Giants, and for the season the Eagles are the top rushing team in the NFL (168 ypg), so you can bet the Pats are going to see heavy doses of McCoy on Sunday.
But you can also expect coach Andy Reid to be salivating at the prospect of attacking the Pats weak secondary downfield via the pass, especially since they are so banged up and currently playing practice players (Antwaun Molden) and offensive guys (Julian Edelman) back there to fill in the holes. Whether or not Vick plays becomes the big question as to how much they choose to attack the Pats via the pass, because last week versus the Giants Young was late on multiple throws and he also threw into coverage often, showing the rust of not playing for over a year.
These two teams havent met on the field since the 2007 season, a 31-28 win for the Patriots at home in Gillette Stadium. Interestingly enough, that was back when Samuel was running back picks for touchdowns for the Pats, and A.J. Feely was the starter at QB, so were talking apples and oranges when looking for trends in the history of these two on the gridiron.
Philly has covered in all but one of the six meetings between these two teams, making them a cash-machine like 5-1 ATS in the limited sample series. The underdog is also 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings, but considering that has been the Eagles for the most part it really isnt that big of news.
Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Its very hard for me to make a pick this early in the week without knowing whos playing in the game. As I mentioned, the Eagles defense is built to beat throwing teams like the Patriots, so I would be inclined to take the home dog here. But without full disclosure I cant make any picks right now. Ill look at Philly come Sunday morning, but Ill likely just pass in the end.
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