Eagles vs. Bears NFL Preseason Betting Advice

Jason Lake

Thursday, August 7, 2014 7:31 AM GMT

Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014 7:31 AM GMT

Two of the NFL’s newest head coaches will be stretching out their legs Friday night. And by legs, we mean offenses. The matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears looks like a choice bet on the preseason NFL totals.

Offense is where it’s at. You can’t win in the NFL if you don’t score, and over the past five years, we’ve seen scoring reach near-peak levels. According to Pro-Football Reference, teams put up an average of 23.4 points per game last year, second only to the 23.6 points per game scored in 1948. That season’s champs: the Philadelphia Eagles, for whom star halfback Steve Van Buren (10 rushing TDs in 11 games) ran roughshod in head coach Greasy Neale’s take on the T-formation.

Defenses eventually adapted and dragged scoring back down to 19.8 points per game in 1957. But then there was another cycle of high-octane offense, and another, and here we are again with the Eagles riding an avant-garde formation to the end zone. Chip Kelly’s version of the spread offense will be on display Friday night (8:00 p.m. ET) when Philadelphia takes on the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Our Week 1 preseason NFL lines have the Eagles getting two points with a total of 40.5.

 

Read About It
If that seems like a rather low total for the Eagles – well then, you need to read my NFL preseason betting guide. This is actually the highest total on our football odds board for Week 1. Generally speaking, there’s less scoring in the preseason; teams are working out their offensive bugs, trying out new plays and new players. It’s not a real game, folks.

That doesn’t mean we should shy away from pounding the 'over' in this matchup. Kelly’s “read” offense, which took the Oregon Ducks to four BCS bowls in four years, was a huge hit in his maiden NFL voyage – the Eagles led the league in rushing while claiming the NFC East crown at 10-6 (8-8 ATS, 9-7 OVER). And during the 2013 preseason, the 'over' went 3-1 as Kelly ran a fairly up-tempo offense. Maybe not as up-tempo as things were during the regular season, but faster than you’ll see in most exhibition games.

It’s not an NFL betting secret that more offensive plays = higher scores. On top of that, the read offense is great for picking up yards on otherwise broken plays, and there will be plenty of broken plays in the preseason. Michael Vick ended up rushing for 73 yards on nine carries (8.1 yards per carry) last year. One caveat: Nick Foles (3.2 YPC) and Matt Barkley (3.3 YPC) weren’t quite as active, and with Vick no longer in the picture, they’re joined this year by noted non-scrambler Mark Sanchez (2.7 career YPC).

 

Whisper Strong
Let’s not forget about the other team in this equation. Marc Trestman is also coming off a strong first year as an NFL head coach, following up on his success in the CFL with the Montreal Alouettes. Trestman is a fan of the read-option offense, and yes, he is the Quarterback Whisperer. The Bears were second in scoring last year at 27.8 points per game, two spots ahead of Philadelphia at 27.6 points per game.

You read that right: Chicago was second in scoring last year. The Bears drove the 'over' to a 12-4 record during the 2013 regular season, and 3-1 during the preseason. Not bad for a team with a reputation as both a defensive juggernaut and a quarterback graveyard. The buzz coming out of Chicago’s training camp is that QB Jay Cutler could be poised for an MVP-quality campaign. Cutler’s back-ups this year are Jordan Palmer and Jimmy Clausen, and Clausen is pushing very hard to take the No. 2 spot on the depth chart. Their job competition should help keep the chains moving Friday night. 

Free NFL Pick: Take 'over' 40 (–111) at SBOBet

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