The 1-3 Philadelphia Eagles are only moderate underdogs this week in facing the 3-1 Carolina Panthers. There is an expectation that this game is going to be competitive.
The range of Philadelphia +3.5 or +4 at the major sportsbooks is much different than the one-touchdown plus spreads posted when they faced the Dallas Cowboys and Kansas City Chiefs. Both of those teams covered that big number against the Birds in the last two weeks.
Latest DraftKings updates put host Carolina at 60% of the money at -3.5, with the “over” bettors taking the lead at 51% at a total of 44.5.
The betting board reveals interesting choices for “Iggles” bettors to make this a game within a game.
Fireworks or freeze up?
The Panthers had allowed only 30 points in three games before being scorched by the Dallas Cowboys last week, 36-28.
DraftKings has a prop bet of 2.5 Eagles touchdowns with “over” at +120. Can the Eagles put three TDs on the board? They did against the Kansas City Chiefs in a 42-30 loss last week. They did in a 41-21 setback to the Dallas Cowboys. They did in Week 1, a 32-6 triumph over the Atlanta Falcons
They should have in the 17-11 Week 2 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. One TD was called back and a first-and-goal-at-the-1 series resulted in nothing.
The Eagles offense, when not penalizing itself, has put itself in position to score.
Another prop asks if the Eagles can score more than 20.5 points. That’s a realistic number but the price of -120 is close to being too expensive.
Startling stat: The shortest rushing touchdown of the season for the Eagles by a back this season was a 7-yard run by Kenneth Gainwell last week. They can’t run it in from near the goal line, as good teams can.
The Panthers (3-1) will be without leading tackler and defensive leader Shaq Thompson on Sunday after the linebacker injured his foot last week. With cornerback Jaycee Horn (foot) and safety Juston Burris (groin) going on injured reserve last week, the Panthers will be missing three defensive starters.
Can the Panthers get more than 24.5 points?
This is a square, fair bet, with no hidden edge or disadvantage. Carolina had trouble scoring until last week. And then it put up 28 points versus a good Dallas defense.
The Eagles have been leaky, yielding 83 points in the past two games.
If Carolina does not play the injured Christian McCaffrey, we will see the same lineup as last week. If McCaffrey plays, it could disrupt the rhythm of the offense.
Nonetheless, a fair wager,
Darnold is the league’s most improved player and is playing with flair. He has five rushing touchdowns, being the first QB in NFL history to do so in the first four games of the season. This is the most confident he’s ever looked. Darnold is also developing a lethal alliance with wide receiver D.J. Moore.
Going with the flow. Hurts wants to air it out.
While fans beseech the Birds to run the ball more, bettors say “Throw It”. Hurts had 387 yards passing against the Chiefs, an astonishingly high number for a player who takes knocks in the media. Hurts has hit his 1.5 over touchdowns prop the last two weeks as well.
It’s there again, although the books are starting to hone in on him and made him -110 to hit the target.
Two things prevent this bet from being a lock. One, the Birds are killing themselves in the red zone. Two, Hurts is a threat to run it in (DraftKings also has a prop for Hurts and Carolina quarterback Sam Darnold to each run and throw for a TD at +500).
Three, Carolina applies good pressure from the linebacking position. Hurts may be in survival mode more than some expect.
Here’s an interesting nugget from the DraftKings board.
The Eagles to score three touchdowns is +120.
But Jake Elliott to hit three extra points is +165.
That’s a considerable disparity regarding the once-automatic PAT. Two factors come into play here. The first is that a few kickers actually miss the conversions, now that the placement spot is equivalent to a medium-range field goal.
Two, coaches love the two-point conversions. Actually, love it. At one point, the two-pointers were simply used to try and catch up. Teams are now using them on the lead, even if their opponents haven’t scored.
Coaches seeking the kill shot, even early in the contest, sheds light on this prop,
Check these choices from the Caesars Sportsbook.
Moore: +525 to score first, -124 anytime.
He’s the logical choice, tallying twice last week and being Sam Darnold’s favorite target. Star receivers often make an impact on the first drive of the game, so he makes sense.
Darnold +1600 to tally first, +330 anytime.
Carolina has plays called for him near the goal line. If there’s no McCaffrey, he may be elected to run the ball in.
Hurts +950 to score first, +185 anytime.
A running quarterback will always be a legitimate threat at an attractive price.
Miles Sanders +750 to score first, +160 anytime. You’d think this would have happened already, but it hasn’t.
DeVonta Smith +1100 to tally first, +180 anytime. He did it in Week 1, to the tune of +1200 and is coming off his best game as a Bird.
A BetMGM Gambling Sample
Hurts to clear 244.5 passing yards is -120. The “under’ is -110.
Jake Elliott’s over-under point total is 6.5. the “over” is -105 and the “under” is -125. The “over” bettor is banking on at least two field goals.
The race to point totals:
The Eagles are +110 to hit the 10-point mark first and +165 to reach 20 points ahead of Carolina.
What if both defenses don’t show up and the offenses have a field day? Both teams to score 30 points is +725.
Good luck, “Iggles” fans and bettors in navigating Week 5.
We invite you to re-live this game and preview next Thursday’s matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on WhyEaglesWhy. This YouTube channel features Pete Amato, Bill Gelman and myself posing many of the same questions you do after the Eagles play.