Our first chance to put the Philadelphia Eagles in our NFL picks comes this Monday night when they visit the Atlanta Falcons. But should we pump the brakes instead?
Are we expecting a little too much from Chip Kelly? Ever since he made the move from the Oregon Ducks to the Philadelphia Eagles two years ago, we've been falling over ourselves here at the home office to get the Eagles in our football picks. How has that worked out? Philadelphia is 20-13 SU and 17-16 ATS on Kelly's watch, including the playoffs. M'eh.
Now Kelly presents us a new version of the Eagles that could be the greatest thing since sliced bread – or could fall apart at any given moment. That moment could come as early as this Monday night (6:55 p.m. ET, ESPN), when Philly makes its 2015 regular-season debut against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome. The NFL odds at press time have the Eagles laying three points, and they're still pulling in about two-thirds of bettors, as they were when we published our opening odds report.
Handle With Care
There are still some very good reasons to make a pick on Philadelphia in this matchup. The early action was on the Eagles, and over 67 percent of the money is on their side at press time, although the average bet size of $115 is only slightly larger than Atlanta's at $95. Those are both relatively small wagers compared to the rest of the league. It appears caution is in order.
As it should be. Not only do we have the Eagles extreme makeover on our hands, we've also got a brand-new Falcons regime under coach Dan Quinn, the former defensive co-ordinator of the Seattle Seahawks. This is Quinn's first go-around as an NFL head coach; he's been given final say over the 53-man roster, as has Kelly in Philadelphia, and he's got a respected offensive co-ordinator in Kyle Shanahan to help him put the Falcons back on the good foot. Will Quinn succeed? Who knows, but he's got the right CV for the job.
We also have to poke some holes in Philly's makeover. While we think QB Sam Bradford is an undervalued commodity when healthy, as he is at the moment, Bradford will be playing behind an offensive line that doesn't have quite as much jam as it did over the past two years, when guard Evan Mathis was going to the Pro Bowl. Allen Barbre will take over that spot, making the move from right tackle. Barbre's played well, but he's no Evan Mathis, and the remaining depth behind Philly's front five has to be a concern.
We'll worry about that a little further down the road. For now, the Eagles are reasonably healthy, and they're coming off a very strong preseason, although that only has a tiny amount of predictive power moving forward. Let's give the Eagles a suitably small bet, based on the early action and on Bradford's betting value. Don't forget to shop around for the best football odds you can find.
Free NFL Pick: Take the Eagles –2.5 (–120) at The Greek