The Eagles and Jaguars each entered this season with great expectations, but both teams have underwhelmed through the season’s first seven weeks. While it’s still early, it’s not that early, and there should be a sense of desperation on both sidelines when the two teams take the field this Sunday. Jacksonville will look to snap a three-game losing streak in which they have been outscored by an embarrassing 90-28 margin. 90-28? I mean, how does that even happen?

Ah, yes. That’s right.

Bortles, of course, was benched last week in favor of Cody Kessler, but Jacksonville head coach Doug Marrone will turn back to Bortles this week. After all, Bortles is 3-1 in his career at Wembley Stadium. That has to count for something. I think.

The Eagles, meanwhile, have lost three of their last four games, including last week’s inexcusable and entirely avoidable fourth quarter collapse at home against Carolina. After throttling the Panthers’ offense for three quarters, Jim Schwartz went ultra-conservative as Cam Netwon obliterated the Eagles’ defense over the game’s final 15 minutes to the tune of 201 passing yards and two touchdowns on his way to leading his team to 21 unanswered points. The Eagles’ fourth quarter offense wasn’t much better, but it still had a chance to save the day in the game’s final moment. Except…

Why throw to the wide-open running back in the flat when you can just throw it into double coverage in the end zone? Indeed. In summation, to say each of these teams square off on Sunday almost entirely devoid of momentum would be an understatement.


Eagles (-3.5) at Jaguars, Over/Under 43.5

*Game will be played at London’s Wembley Stadium

As for the game matchups, Wentz enters having completed a career-best 70.8% of his passes with 10 touchdown tosses against only one interception, and while the Jaguars’ defense is allowing an NFL-best 179.7 yards passing per game this season, there should be plenty of opportunities to make plays against an injury-ravaged secondary. Jacksonville will be without three of its top cornerbacks in A.J. Bouye, D.J. Hayden, and Tyler Patmon. Undrafted rookies Quenton Meeks, Tre Herndon, and Dee Delaney, a trio that has all of four combined NFL regular snaps between them, will take their place. That’s…less than ideal.

If Jacksonville hopes to slow down the Eagles’ passing attack, they will need big games from Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue. Jacksonville’s vaunted pass rush has only produced 15 sacks this season, but is still dangerous and will be quite a test for banged up offensive tackles Jason Peters and Lane Johnson.



In terms of the run game, I’m not sure that it even matters. The Eagles average 4.0 yards per carry (24th in the NFL) and 102.9 rush yards per game (21st in the NFL), but more importantly, they don’t even really try to run the football. It’s obvious that Doug Pederson isn’t terribly excited about his running back rotation of Wendell Smallwood, Corey Clement, and Josh Adams after the Eagles ran the football only once during their fourth quarter collapse last week.

While Philadelphia’s offense has disappointed, Jacksonville’s has been a borderline disaster, already failing to score double-digit points three times this season. Jacksonville is scoring only 16.6 points per game, and only 4 of their last 35 possessions have resulted in points. Much of the criticism has centered around Bortles, who has nearly thrown as many interceptions (8) as he has touchdowns (9) this season, prompting takes similar to this one:

Even Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins took a not-so-subtle jab at Bortles this week when he voiced his support for Colin Kaepernick:


The Jags hope that the recent acquisition of running back Carlos Hide, who has 382 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 114 carries, will help spark the NFL’s 23rd ranked ground attack that has sputtered in the absence of Leonard Fournette. That will be a tough ask against the NFL’s No. 2 rushing defense which has limited opponents to just 85.7 rushing yards per game.

Gambling Trends: The consensus spread has trended in the Eagles’ favor throughout the week. After opening at most books as a 2 or 2.5-point favorite, the spread has now jumped over the field goal threshold to -3.5 at many books. Despite this apparent value on Jacksonville, 73% of point-spread bets and 67% of point-spread money backs the Eagles as of early Friday afternoon.

Things to Know: The Eagles have been slow starters this season, but Jacksonville has been outscored 23-0 in the first quarter over the past three weeks. The Jags have been terrible against NFC opponents. They are 23-39 ATS against NFC teams since 2003. Bortles, specifically, is 4-12 ATS against NFC teams, including 2-4 ATS since the start of last season when Jacksonville became competitive. Any way you slice it, the Jaguars’ performance against out of conference teams has been poor.

Favorites in London are 12-8 ATS and 24-11-2 ATS in neutral site games since 2003, including 8-3 ATS since the start of the 2016 season. Bortles, meanwhile, is 3-1 ATS at Wembley Stadium, but is only 6-11 ATS against teams coming off a loss and 3-7 ATS as an underdog against teams coming off a loss.

The Eagles are tied for a league-worst 2-5 ATS (1-5 ATS in their last six games) this season (28.6% ATS cover rate), which is important to know because Bortles is only 1-5 ATS against teams that cover the spread at a 25-30% rate.

The Eagles are also 6-1 straight-up in their last seven games coming off a loss, which is good. Not so good is the Eagles’ 1-7 ATS record under Doug Pederson when favored between three and four points. Additionally, the “over” is 15-4 ATS under Pederson in games played away from Lincoln Financial Field.

Prediction: I don’t trust the Eagles, particularly after last week’s fourth quarter debacle against the Panthers, but I keep coming back two things:

1) Blake Bortles
2) Carson Wentz

Bortles has been atrocious against the spread versus NFC opponents, hasn’t fared well against teams coming off a loss, and is playing poorly. Wentz, meanwhile, is going up against a defense missing three starters in its secondary and the Eagles have excelled lately when coming off a loss. Throw in the success of favorites ATS in neutral site games, and that’s enough to get me firmly behind Philadelphia.

Eagles 27, Jaguars 19


This was part of my Week 8 betting preview over on You can read the rest here.