Despite 15 weeks of football marred mostly by disappointment, missed opportunities, and maddening losses, the Eagles’ path to the playoffs remains rather clear. Two wins combined with a single Minnesota loss, or two Dallas losses, and they are in. It’s that simple. I have no idea how the Eagles arrived at this point, but they are here and now have an opportunity to erase 3.5 months of frustration and underachieving play over the next two weeks.

According to the New York Times Playoff Simulator, the Eagles have only a 6% chance of winning the NFC East, but a more optimistic 30% chance of reaching the postseason. Those odds increase to roughly 45% with a win on Sunday over the Houston Texans, but that’s no small order. Houston comes in hot, having won of 10 of its last 11 contests and should be plenty motivated as they look to wrap up the AFC South crown.

Philadelphia’s defense played arguably its best game of the season in a must-win spot, and Nick Foles recreated last season’s magic in a remarkable 30-23 upset of the Rams on the road last week. Now, can the Eagles keep it going for at least one more week? Let’s get into it.

The action

As of Friday morning, this is the second-most heavily bet game of the week behind only the Seahawks-Chiefs game. The Eagles opened as a consensus small underdog but are now a short favorite across all sportsbooks. Currently, 53% of point-spread bets and 60% of the money is behind Philadelphia. With the over/under set at 46, roughly 70% of totals bets are on the over.

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So where’s the value? Those looking to take the Eagles against the spread should head to FanDuel and get them at -1 (-125). Conversely, those on the Texans want to grab them at +2.5 (-110) with DraftKings or SugarHouse. It’s always important to shop at different books for the best price, but this is one of the strongest spread variations I’ve seen this season, so be sure to shop around.

For those looking to eliminate the spread and place a moneyline bet on the Eagles, they can be found at -126 at FanDuel Sportsbook, while those backing Houston can get a favorable +112 payout with DraftKings. Also, DraftKings recently unveiled a $500 free bet match and between now and the new start of the new year they offering an additional $50 free bet just for signing up. No deposit required.

Finally, totals bettors can get either side of 46 at -110 with any of New Jersey’s legal sports betting apps.

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Trends to know

The Eagles’ 5-9 record ATS ties them for the NFL’s third-worst cover rate at 35.7%, and their 2-5 ATS home record is better than only that of the Giants. Meanwhile, the Texans are 6-7-1 ATS, which is just below league average, and they are a respectable 3-3-1 ATS on the road thanks to a 3-1-1 run over their last five games.

If you’re an Eagles fan, let’s start with the reasons to back the Birds against the number this week.

While the Texans are in the midst of a five-game winning streak away from NRG Stadium, they are still only 8-16 straight-up in their last 24 road games. Moreover, Houston has had a mixed bag of results against the NFC East this season. It has won all three of its games against the division, but Bill O’Brien’s team failed to cover in any of those games.

Additionally, the Texans have been brutal in recent seasons ATS during the month of December, going a dismal 2-9-1 ATS over their last 12 games dating back to 2016. I don’t typically care about historical head-to-head numbers, but it’s at least worth noting that the Texans are 0-4 all-time against Philadelphia, and only once have covered the spread. O’Brien teams have been awful against the number when playing teams that made the playoffs the previous season, going 7-16-1 ATS in this situation. They have also struggled as an underdog, going 17-24-1 ATS overall and 2-5 ATS since last December.

I also wanted to take a quick look at how Houston performs in the second game of back-to-back road games. It’s a small sample size, but they failed to cover the other two times they were in such a spot this season.

With such a short spread, that Nick Foles is 7-2 straight-up overall (and 4-1 at home) as the starting quarterback during his second stint with the Eagles seems relevant. The Eagles are 1-5 SU in their last six games after a win. Despite going only 4-3 at home thus far, the Eagles are still 15-4 straight-up in their last 19 home games.

And one more interesting note: The Eagles covered the spread by 20.5 points last week. They are 3-1 ATS the following week after covering a spread by at least 20 points under Pederson.

From a matchup standpoint, I love the Eagles’ defensive line against the Texans’ offensive line. No quarterback has been sacked more this season than DeShaun Watson:

That’s the good news for the Eagles. Now for the bad.

As of Thursday afternoon, 66% of the point-spread money backed the Eagles. They are 1-3 ATS under Doug Pederson when the money slants that heavily in their direction. The Eagles have also been brutal after wins this season, going 1-5 SU in the last six games they’re coming off a win. Moreover, they are only 1-3 ATS since 2016 when winning a game by 7-14 points. The Eagles have been better situationally against the number after more narrow wins and losses.

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The Eagles are 2-7 ATS this season (the wins came against Washington and Los Angeles) when facing a defense that was allowing a completion percentage of 64% or greater coming into the game. One theory that explains these baffling situational struggles is that Pederson has a propensity to call a one-dimensional, pass-happy offense against teams with weaker defenses, as if he simply can’t help himself, but…BUT they are 2-1 ATS against such teams when Nick Foles starts. Pederson called perhaps his best game of the season last week while committing to a balanced attack, so I wouldn’t sweat this trend quite as much.

Home under, road Over

Currently, the total is set at 46 at most sportsbooks for this contest. It’s been a pretty simple formula for betting totals with the Eagles. When they’re at home, back the under, and when they’re on the road, roll with the over. The under has hit in 18 of 25 Eagles games, including the postseason, at Lincoln Financial Field under Pederson, and it’s on a 10-2 run dating back to late last November. This season, the under has hit in six of seven games at The Linc. Additionally, the Eagles have faced an AFC opponent at home five times since 2016 with the total staying under in four of those contests. Meanwhile, over has hit in 17 of 23 games on the road under Pederson.

 

Prediction

The Texans come in having won 10 of their last 11 games. That doesn’t just happen by accident. Still, Houston’s offensive line is suspect, and that’s a matchup I think the Eagles defensive line can consistently win. Lamar Miller and DeAndre Hopkins are each battling injuries, so their availability and effectiveness is a question. The Eagles looked like a completely different team a week ago in Los Angeles, and, in fact, they looked like last year’s team. I think Foles keeps it the Eagles alive for at least one more week, setting up a chaotic Week 17. I mean, look at this:

Do you want to bet against that? I sure don’t.

As for the total, I think there’s a decent for some points to be put on the board, but the trends decidedly favor the under, so I’ll continue to roll with that.

Eagles 23, Texans 19

 

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