Pick the Eagles at -4.5 vs. Vikings

Doug Upstone

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 7:18 PM GMT

Philadelphia has flown to first place in the NFC East with five consecutive victories and has attracted the attention of NFL football handicappers and those setting the betting odds. Can the Eagles keep it going against a mediocre Minnesota club who is playing everybody close?

It’s What’s Up That Counts for Philadelphia

From an entertainment standpoint, it was impossible to stop watching the Lions and Eagles playing in a snow storm this past week. For a quarter and half, passing was impossible and running looked like an unnatural act.

But the second half, the snow was no longer a blizzard and all the players began to adjust to the conditions and the points started to pile up like the white stuff at Lincoln Financial Field.

LeSean McCoy went from low gear to four-wheel drive as the Eagles started running the like the Auburn Tigers, amassing over 200 yards on the ground in the fourth quarter alone and finished with 299 rushing for the game against the vaunted Lions front four.

What has accounted for this Philly offensive resurgence, the offensive line. The return to health of left tackle Jason Peters and the rest of his line-mates has Chip Kelly’s offense working at peak efficiency, providing McCoy chasms to run through and affording Nick Foles to find dynamic receivers. This team has caught the eye of those making NFL picks.

Close Not Cutting it with Minnesota

The Vikings are 5-1 ATS in their past six contests, yet have just a 2-3-1 record. While snow in Philly was a showstopper, the NFL Red Zone package was overheating trying to keep up with highlights of Minnesota and Baltimore. There was a record six fourth-quarter lead changes, including five in the final 2:05.

The Vikings were victims of a few curious calls in the closing minutes and ultimately lost, because the NFL’s second-worst scoring defense could not get a stop when needed.

That’s been Minnesota’s story – close but no cigar. Whether it has been ineffective quarterback play at the wrong time or secondary miscues, the fact is the Vikes have not come through at crunch time, which is why they are 3-9-1.

NFL Betting Odds and Matchup Numbers

Sportsbooks released Philadelphia as field goal favorites and football bettors swiftly elevated the Eagles to -4.5. This change in the NFL odds is significant given how both teams have performed against the spread in recent weeks. The Eagles are 5-1 SU and ATS on the road this season, however, Minnesota is 11-3 ATS off an away game since last season.

The total is up a point to 51 and we find the Vikings 10-3 OVER in 2013.

Philadelphia wins and covers by…

Maintaining their dominance in controlling the line of scrimmage on offense. Minnesota is well below average in almost any defensive statistic and with McCoy back in the groove and Foles almost peerless with pass protection in accuracy, the Eagles should score points.

For a second straight week, Philadelphia will miss the opposition’s top ball carrier with Adrian Peterson out. Toby Gerhart has been running well this season when called upon and arm tackles will not bring him down. The Birds defense must account for rookie Cordarrelle Patterson, who is electric.

Minnesota covers and possibly wins by…

Not making mistakes and being composed. The Vikes are 31st in total defense, but this week’s foe is only three yards better per game. Though A.P. will not be there, the O- Line is playing significantly better and the offense is averaging 181 yards on the ground the last month. Philly is small up front on defense and can be pushed around. The run game helps whatever musical chairs quarterback who starts in the purple and white.

The defense has not stopped anyone all season, thus the best hope is to be tough in the red zone and force field goals.

Final Outcome

As long as the line stays at 4.5, with how the Kelly’s crew is peaking at the right time, with one of my NFL picks I’ll back the visitor.

NFL Football Free Pick - Philadelphia -4.5

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