Thursday, January 06, 2011

Prediction Thursday

I had been on a roll picking the Eagles ATS in the spread until missing the last two tilts (here and here)- dropping the blog career NFL play-off mark to 10-5.

Thus, I was not surprised to being surprised at the line for Sunday: Eagles -3 over Green Bay. I was expecting something more of pick’em- but again, I’ve been off the beam a bit lately. Green Bay has one of the top defenses in football right now. The Eagles’ defense is an injury riddled wreck- rapidly declining week-to-week. Rodgers is a clear pick over Vick- casting doubt on the value of the Eagles’ usual talisman against general sputtering. And yet, the Eagles are a muted fave?

The biggest intangibles wagering on pro football are coaching, home field, short week and warm weather/dome team coming outside. Three seem to land the Eagles way. They are at home in a building that generates good noise and emotion. Green Bay had to play an emotional game for their life last Sunday, while the Eagles cruised with deep reserves. People mock Reid’s NFC Championship game record- but the reason he is there a lot to lose is that the Eagles seemingly always make the play-offs and then win their initial post-season game. Vegas believes in Reid is this sort of spot.

Still, I’m doubtful. I think we can all agree the Eagles’ defense is in for a real, real stern test Sunday. The secondary is a real mess: safeties are either hurt or terrible; DB reinforcements (a limping Asante Samuel) do not inspire confidence. Injuries have corroded the depth and the unit just looks worn. I have really been down on the Eagles past two drafts- and it is really coming home to roost now. Name a single guy on defense, actually playing, taken sixth round or better in the past two drafts. Answer: none. Two entire drafts- and that is why there is a talent and depth problem over there.

Worse, then Aaron Rodgers is introduced, a guy absolutely designed to torment this group.

And Michael Vick has been declining, banged up, too. His turnovers are through the roof. Teams are blitzing and he can’t generate consistent accurate throws from the pocket. Vick this year, even playing well, struggles to generate “routine” offense against even decent defenses: Colts, Giants, Bears, Vikings. The Eagles grew fat this year, leavening said struggling routine offense, with giant strikes to Jackson, Celek, Maclin. But teams now get the ball out of Vick’s hands via extreme pressure, there is no time for giant downfield plays, and the Eagles just can’t sustain offense right now. Perhaps worse, Vick is hinting at excuses: I’m only 75%? Trouble.

This game seems straightforward to me. Rodgers throws for 300 yards, generates 28-35 points. Vick can’t possible throw for 300 yards; the Eagles struggle to add to their two routine scores via big plays. Throw in a pair of Vick turnovers… and this game has 31-17 Packers written all over it.

I love the Pack -3 over the Eagles here. But, such is the weakness of my convictions, based on my recent record, I’ll be chilling in Section 204 loving prepping snowballs.

Special bonus picks! My preseason Super Bowl pick was Falcons over Ravens. I’m inclined to stick with it. Falcons are very good in their building, and I think the Raven defense is much better than the Pats.

Seattle +10.5 over New Orleans: Gut pick really. A .500 outfit really ought to be able to hang with a good team at home. Just a whole lot of points to give a road team in the NFL.