New York Jets (8-5 SU, 6-7 ATS) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (5-8 SU, 5-8 ATS), 4:15 p.m. EST, Week 15 NFL, Sunday, December 18, 2011, Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pa., TV: CBS
by Badger, Professional Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NYJ +2.5/Phil -2.5
Over/Under Total: 44.5
Bet the Jets/Philly game using your credit card at an online sportsbook where it WILL work for deposits: BetOnline.
The New York Jets desperately need to keep adding to their winning streak in order to stay at the top of the AFC wild card hunt, and the Philadelphia Eagles desperately need to keep winning in order to reclaim any bit of respect for their dismal season, so something will have to give this Sunday when the Jets play the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.
If the playoffs were to start today the Jets would sneak into the final wild card spot in the AFC, but just barely, which is why they need to keep the pedal down on Sunday when they visit the Linc in Philly.
New York has won three straight, including a, 37-10, blowout win over Kansas City last weekend at home when they put together all three phases of the game in harmony. Weve seen the Jets hit their peak late in the season like this before, but with the underachieving Eagles up this week it should provide everyone a gauge as to whether or not the Jets will be playing after New Years Day.
For the first time in weeks the Eagles finally played some inspired football in last weeks, 26-10, win over the Miami Dolphins. The Eagles defense, which has taken their share of the heat for the teams season-long struggles, forced three turnovers and tallied nine sacks in the win over the Dolphins.
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With Michael Vick back under center the Eagles offense took advantage of those turnovers to score 24 points in the span of nine minutes in the second quarter to put the game away early in Miami.
With pride and ego still flowing in the Philly locker room it will be interesting to see how the Eagles respond to the challenge the Jets present this Sunday. My guess is that with the brashness and egos involved on the other sideline with the Jets, combined with the always-friendly Philadelphia crowd, the atmosphere at the Linc on Sunday will be at a fever pitch.
This game also presents a few dilemmas as far as odds and betting lines go. Oddsmakers originally opened the game with the Eagles as slim 1-point favorites at home, but thats about the only time the opening point spread has shown consistency. A few sportsbooks are still sitting with Eagles minus -1 on their boards, but at other sportsbooks it has shot up to minus -2.5 or even -3 due to heavy action on the Eagles. Its rare to find a two to three point discrepancy in point spreads at the offshore sportsbooks, so it will be interesting to see where the public moves this number later in the week.
The over/under total opened at 44.5 and has dropped the hook to 44 or even 43.5 with most of the early action coming in on the over.
Offensively the Eagles still have yet to produce as expected. Vick wasnt especially sharp last week (15-for-30, 208 yards, TD, INT), and the running game struggled to generate yards against the Dolphins stacked line of scrimmage finishing with just 51 yards rushing and a 1.6 yards per carry average.
With the defensive secondary that the Jets will throw at Philly this week, it would be hard to figure the passing game will improve too much. Although the Jets lost safety Jim Leonhard to a season-ending knee injury last week, so it wouldnt surprise anyone if the Eagles target Eric Smith or whomever replaces him in the lineup with lots of deep route over the middle in the passing game.
I also expect plenty of blitzes and a total team effort to knock Vick around as much as possible by the Jets come Sunday, so hitting their season average of 23 points a game would be a strong outing by the Eagles this week.
On the other sideline, it appears that the Jets offense is finally starting to click. The Jets have averaged 33 points a game during their three-game win streak, and the running game with Shonn Greene and a healthy LaDainian Tomlinson has been the biggest reason for the surge (averaging 133 yards per game during streak 105 ypg on season- 22nd).
But with the Eagles defense finally showing some pride and putting together a complete game last week, the Jets will have a struggle on their hands. Eagles end Jason Babin was quoted as saying that the Eagles finally played like men today after last weeks game, so maybe it just took 13 weeks for the Eagles defense to decide to play like they were supposed too since the season started in September.
These two teams last played on the gridiron back in 2007, in what turned into a 16-9 Eagles victory on the road in the old Meadowlands Stadium. In fact, Philly has not lost to the Jets in five games since the 1987 season, but theyve all been close games with the average margin of victory for the Eagles being less than a touchdown (6.2).
The Eagles have also cashed at the window in the series too, going 4-1 ATS in the five games including two in a row, including the only game ever played in Philly (a 24-17 Eagles win in 2003 as 3-point favorites).
But all of those historical numbers fly in the face of all of the recent betting trends, which scream out for a play on the Jets.
The Jets are great as underdogs (9-1 ATS in L10 as road dog of 0.5 to 3.0), while the Eagles have crapped the bed all season long at home in the Linc (1-8 ATS in L9 home games). Philly is also just 3-11 in their last 14 games as the favorite, so the Jets might catch a break with the Eagles playing tight in front of the home (and often hostile) crowd.
The over also looks like a solid trend play, going 9-2 in the Jets last 11 games as a road dog and 13-3-1 in the Jets last 17 games as the dog in general. The over is also 9-4 in the Eagles last 13 games following a game where they allowed less than 15 points.
Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I was burned so often by the Eagles earlier this season that I vowed not to waste money on them anymore. Id lean toward playing the Jets since it appears the line is moving in their favor, but I think the Eagles defense has finally woken up and is determined to save face in the final weeks of the season. If I play anything Ill probably play the under, hoping for a 20-17 or 24-17 type of defensive struggle. Im taking the under of 44.5.
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