Coming off a miserable loss to the rival New York Giants, the Philadelphia Eagles will play in MetLife Stadium for a second consecutive week, this time against the New York Jets.
Philadelphia’s offense has nowhere to go but up after committing four turnovers in a crucial divisional game. Meanwhile, the Jets are looking to make it two wins in a row after winning the “Toilet Bowl” against the Houston Texans.
Can we trust the Eagles to bounce back as 7-point favorites? Or will New York put up a scrappy underdog effort at home? Let’s break down this conference crossover:
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- Opening line: Philadelphia -6.5
- Current line: Philadelphia -7
- Total: 45.5
Eagles offense hinges on Jalen Hurts’ health
After starting the season at 2-5, Philadelphia started to show a pulse right around Halloween. The Eagles have won three of their last five thanks to an emphasis on the running game.
Philadelphia has put up more rushing yards than passing yards in each of their last five contests. It’s a complete contrast to the league-wide trend of airing the ball out more frequently, but given Philadelphia’s personnel, a shift to a power running offense makes sense. Most importantly, it’s worked. The Eagles rank third in rush offense DVOA and 17th in passing DVOA.
Many made the comparisons between Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson throughout the offseason, and while Hurts is an electric runner, he’s not quite as good of a passer. Hurts is still struggling to read defenses and is quick to escape the pocket when his initial read isn’t open.
Hurts’ limitations as a passer is one of the primary reasons why Philadelphia has shifted to a ground-based attack. Hurts’ mobility in this game might be hampered by an ankle injury suffered in the second half of last week’s loss. Hurts claimed he’ll play through the injury, but it could drastically impact the way this offense operates, as it’ll be far less effective if Hurts is forced to be more of a pocket passer.
Defensively, Philadelphia has benefited from a weaker schedule of offenses during this five-game stretch. The Eagles have fared better against the Lions, Chargers, Broncos, Saints and Giants, however this unit still ranks 21st in defensive DVOA.
DVOA views Philadelphia as a slightly above average team that might actually be under-performing. FootballOutsiders says the Eagles have 6.7 expected wins on the season, but the health of its quarterback might determine whether this team can actually contend for a playoff spot.
Jets looking to play spoiler again
We all knew last week’s game between the Jets and Texans would be ugly, and it lived down to those expectations. Jets quarterback Zach Wilson returned from injury and didn’t look great. The BYU rookie completed 14-of-24 passes for 145 yards and an awful interception. Simply put, the Texans were slightly worse than the Jets on Sunday.
Despite beating Houston last week, the Jets are still regarded as a worse team than the Texans. New York ranks 30th in overall DVOA and still ranks dead last in defensive DVOA despite holding Houston to just 202 yards last week.
Offensively, the Jets still have a long way to go. Wilson hasn’t shown much development, and he doesn’t have much help around him. New York’s offensive line is improving, but it still ranks just 23rd in adjusted sack rate and adjusted line yards. But where New York is making strides is on the ground, where they rank 14th in DVOA. The Jets could have success against an Eagles front that ranks 21st in adjusted line yards allowed.
This is an ugly spread that I’m staying away from. Laying a touchdown on the road with an Eagles team led by a hobbled quarterback isn’t overly appetizing. But then again, backing the Jets isn’t that appealing either.
So instead of making a play on the spread, I’m going to target the total instead. This game features two teams who prefer to keep the ball on the ground. And while New York’s defense is arguably the worst in the league, I can’t trust Philadelphia’s offense if Hurts is playing hurt. And New York’s offense likely won’t gain much traction against an Eagles defense that’s playing better.
All that considered, I’d prefer to play the under. If you have to make a play on the spread, I’d lean with the Jets if you can get a touchdown or better.
The pick: Under 45.5
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Matt Barbato is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Matt, check out his archive and follow him @RealMattBarbato.