Week 2 of the NFL preseason kicks off Thursday night with a rematch of Super Bowl LII – although featuring almost entirely different rosters. The Patriots will travel to the City of Brotherly Love to battle the Eagles in the most important tune-up game before the regular season kicks off after these two teams spent the first half of the week facing off in joint practices.
Points have been hard to come by so far in the preseason. In the first week, which includes the Hall of Fame Game, unders went an astounding 14-3 as many key starters were held out of action, and the backups struggled to develop any chemistry.
One thing I’ll be looking for in Week 2 is deflated totals as the books look to take advantage of bettors who were lulled to sleep by low-scoring affairs in the first round of games. And not coincidentally, a total that’s a bit too low is exactly where we’ll start on Thursday night in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia Eagles vs. New England Patriots (-1.5; O/U 38)
This total has been bouncing around between 38 and 39 all week, and while it looks to have settled at the opening number of 38.5 at some books, there are still several places offering 38 – including FanDuel and Caesar’s. It’s my best bet of the night at 38, and I’d still bet it at 38.5.
There are a few pillars to this bet, and perhaps none more important than the length of time the starters are expected to play. Reports from Patriots camp are that the starters are expected to play a significant amount for a preseason game – perhaps up until halftime. Obviously, this raises the question of who is actually the starter for Bill Belichick’s Patriots, and signs are currently pointing towards Cam Newton, which is actually great news for our over bet. It means we’ll not only get a first-half New England offense that’s looking to move the ball, but more importantly, we’ll get Mac Jones – who looked fantastic against Washington last week completing 13 of his 19 passes – against a collection of backup Eagles defenders in the second half. Backup Eagles defenders who made Dwayne Haskins look like the Ohio State version of Dwayne Haskins, allowing him to go 16/22 for 161 yards.
— Pats Buzz (@PatsBuzz) August 13, 2021
While nothing has been finalized on the opposite sidelines, I’m also expecting Philadelphia to play their starters for much, if not all, of the first half. Why? Because this is a brand new coaching staff and a brand new offense working with a second-year quarterback in Jalen Hurts, who started just four games a year ago. And Hurts did not look so great last week against Pittsburgh, despite what Nick Sirriani told the media. He needs reps, and he’s going to get them against a Patriots defense that allowed Steven Montez to complete 17 of his 24 pass attempts a week ago. The first half is going to be all about the Eagles’ offense finding a rhythm, and they’re going to be determined to finish drives off with scores – especially if Hurts has anything to say about it. He’s a gamer, regardless of what’s at stake.
Just leaving Eagles-Patriots and being around them last couple days and the confidence in @JalenHurts from teammates became much, much clearer. He’s winning those guys over
— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) August 18, 2021
The second pillar to this bet relies on the scoring trends from Week 1. I mentioned in the open that 14 of 17 unders cashed last week. One of the overs featured these Philadelphia Eagles, who fell 26-14 to the Steelers but cashed the over by 3.5 points. And while the Patriots and Washington fell two points short of the 37-point total, the 35-point output was tied for the fifth-highest scoring game of the week. With an extra week of practice under their collective belts, look for these offenses to finish a few more scoring drives, especially with more snaps for the starters.
Finally, we’ve got a coach who really wants to win – and it’s not Bill Belichick. Nick Sirianni is in his first year at the helm in Philadelphia, and no coach wants to start his tenure with back-to-back losses – especially in Philly. It doesn’t matter that this is the preseason, Sirriani wants to taste victory in the NFL, and you can be sure that he’ll be pushing his players to compete until the final whistle, especially if they have the ball and a chance to put a scoring drive together.
I expected this total to open around 39.5, so we’re getting a point-and-a-half discount at a reasonable price of -110. Take the over here because I’m looking for scoring to uptick after a lackluster opening week of the preseason.
Whether you’re new to sports betting or a betting pro, our How To Bet and Sports Betting Strategy and Advice pages are for you. You can get started with our Sports Betting 101 Section — including 10 Sports Betting Tips for Beginners — or head to more advanced sports betting strategy — like Key Numbers When Betting Against the Spread — to learn more.