Sunday Night Football NFL Picks: Back Eagles to Be Competitive & Cover ATS Against Panthers

Jason Lake

Thursday, October 22, 2015 5:59 PM UTC

Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015 5:59 PM UTC

Now that the Carolina Panthers have finally earned some respect, they're the early NFL pick for Sunday night's game against the enigmatic Philadelphia Eagles.

Jason's 2015 record as of Oct. 21: 21-15 ATS; 0-1 ML (-1.00 units); 14-23 Total

Nothing much has changed for the Carolina Panthers this week. They're still undefeated, they still have one of the best defenses in the NFL – but now that the Panthers have beaten the Seattle Seahawks, bettors are coming out of the woodwork to throw some money down on Carolina. Our consensus reports show 61-percent support for the Cats as 3-point home faves for Sunday Night Football (8:30 p.m. ET, NBC).

Apparently some people still need convincing. The Philadelphia Eagles supply the opposition Sunday night, and while our expanded consensus figures still have 59 percent of the monies wagered landing on Carolina, the average bet on Philly is six bucks higher at $69. Cats and dogs, living together. Which one belongs in our NFL picks this week?


Proving Ground
If we go purely by the efficiency stats at Football Outsiders, it looks like the Eagles are the right choice. They sit at No. 7 (No. 20 offense, No. 3 defense, No. 14 special teams) on the DVOA charts through Week 6, while Carolina is three spots back in 10th (No. 11 offense, No. 5 defense, No. 30 special teams). The Panthers are laying three points at home, which suggests the marketplace values them as slightly better than Philly on neutral ground. Voilà, profit margin.

How about a second opinion? Pro-Football Reference gives Philadelphia (3-3 SU and ATS) a +8.9 on the Simple Rating System, or fifth overall in the league. Carolina (5-0 SU, 4-1 ATS) gets a +1.1 SRS, tied for 13th overall with Washington. That would suggest the Eagles “should” be favored by about 5.5 points on the road. Apparently the win over Seattle still isn't enough to make up for Carolina's weak opposition during its first four victories.

***Sunday Night Football Prop Odds***

It Gets Better
The Eagles figure to have more upside, as well. Sam Bradford already has nine interceptions to go with his nine touchdown passes, but he still rates as a better passer than Cam Newton – although Newton makes up for it as the top rushing QB in the league according to DYAR (+75). Bradford's picks reflect his growing pains in the Eagles offense, and his increased willingness to throw the ball downfield. Things should improve over time.

Meanwhile, those special teams are making life more difficult for the Panthers defense. Punting has been a problem; while Brad Nortman has a big leg, Carolina's coverage unit hasn't been doing its job. PK Graham Gano is also 8-for-11 on field-goal attempts, including 3-for-6 from 40 yards out or longer. Philadelphia's punting and kicking hasn't been stellar, either, but it's been much better than Carolina's. These are the little things that make the NFL odds worth exploiting.

NFL Picks: Take the Eagles +3.5 (–117) at Pinnacle

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