NFL Picks: Lions vs. Eagles in Week 14

Doug Upstone

Thursday, December 5, 2013 8:03 PM UTC

Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013 8:03 PM UTC

It’s a battle of division leaders in the NFC and according to the sportsbooks, the only real difference between these teams is the home field according to the betting odds. Starting with this contest, the winner is in position to really make a playoff push, but who will it be?

Detroit Has to Think and Play Smart

On Thanksgiving, the Detroit Lions were in the perfect spot to do something foolish. Prior to the game, Green Bay guard Josh Sitton called the Lions defensive linemen and their coaches "dirtbags" and "scumbags" in a radio interview.

Normally, this is where the Lions take the bait and would have incurred multiple personal foul penalties against the Packers. But on that Thursday, Detroit’s defensive linemen played under control and thoroughly dominated the Packers offense, holding them to just 57 total yards through three quarters. The Pack’s longest run from scrimmage the entire day was four yards.

If Detroit wants to be taken seriously, every NFL football handicapper knows this is how they need to play.

On the other side of the coin, Matthew Stafford has to think and execute fundamentals. Stafford trusts his arm in the same manner as a Jay Cutler or Brett Favre. As Fox analyst Troy Aikman pointed out, Stafford will drop his elbow below his hand, which causes the ball to thrown nose up and it floats with less velocity. By doing this and making some very poor decisions, Stafford has seven interceptions the past three weeks.

Detroit has the talent to win this contest and grab the No. 3 seed in the NFC; they just have to play smart.

Philadelphia Has to Finish

The Eagles are soaring with four consecutive wins (3-1 ATS) and quarterback Nick Foles has been nothing short of brilliant. Foles is completing 61.3 percent of his passes and has a sick 19-0 touchdown to interception ratio.

But for those making NFL picks or doing live betting, Philadelphia makes you squeamish when it comes to closing out games.

Granted, the Eagles are 6-1 ATS in their wins, but definitely there have been uncomfortable moments in the later stages of the fourth quarter with Chip Kelly’s crew.

Philadelphia has been outscored 49-24 in the last stanza in their victories and coach Kelly sort of addresses the issue, without supplying an answer.

“People aren't playing the normal defenses they normally play in the first, second and third quarter,” Kelly said. “They're putting an extra guy on the line of scrimmage. If you bring in an extra tight end, they're going to have two more than you -- one for the quarterback and one for the extra player. That is a difficult situation to run the ball against. The answer is easy: Hey, throw it. If you throw it and it's incomplete, the clock stops.” 

OK coach, good answer, but how are you addressing the problem. What Kelly is saying happens at least 10 times every week in the four quarter of games in the NFL. If he doesn’t find a solution, his team might not win the division.

NFL Betting Odds and Matchup Numbers

After sportbooks released Philadelphia as a 2.5-point home favorite, they briefly went to three before settling back to opening number. Detroit won 26-23 last season in Philly as a 3.5-point road underdog, which was their only triumph in five previous visits to the City of Brotherly Love.

If you are looking at the NFL odds, this is supposed to be the highest scoring game of the week. The total of 53 has sauntered 54 and we find the Lions are 15-6 OVER in games where the line is +3 to -3.

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Detroit covers and possibly wins by…

Having Stafford being a better decision-maker and sticking with his fundamentals as a passer. There are holes in the Philadelphia secondary Stafford can take advantage of, but he has to be wise.

The defensive line has to contain LeSean McCoy and make Foles jittery in the pocket. The Lions secondary is not good enough to cover for five or six seconds.

Philadelphia wins and covers by…

If Foles continues to use tight ends Zach Ertz and Brent Celek. Last week they combined for nine catches and three TD’s. This makes more space for McCoy to run and invites looser coverage on the wide-outs.

The two most important playmakers for Detroit are Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush, contain them and the Eagles can win this contest.

Final Outcome

If you check out my video - Upstone vs. The World – you will see I have this as one of my value plays and I like the Eagles at under a field goal because they can better exploit Detroit’s weakness.

NFL Pick: Philadelphia -2.5

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