By Justin Mark, SGPN Football Handicapper
Last week was a good one for several reasons. Not only did the Eagles win, but the picks I gave out went 4-0, as the Eagles won outright, the total points hit the over and my bonus bet hit. The Eagles pushed on the early spread, but the lines closed at 6.5, so they covered that as well. Hopefully, that worked out for everyone. Batting over 60% now as we head down the homestretch with post-season action virtually assured. This week the Titans are coming to town in what should be an entertaining affair. I’d be lying if I said this one doesn’t scare me. The Eagles have been one of the best teams in the NFL this year but this Titans team presents plenty of challenges.
Key Defensive Matchup
The Titans’ game goes as their run game goes. There is no secret that they love to run the football and feed Derrick Henry. And despite defenses knowing that the former Alabama star is still going to get plenty of touches. It’s incredibly hard to bring him down and he relishes the contact. The Titans tend to show up in these games against better opponents on both offense and defense. Take their game against the Chiefs this year. They kept it close despite being big underdogs and only had 80 passing yards the entire game.
What worries me most is that the Eagles’ defense just hasn’t been the same since Jordan Davis was injured. They’ve also just lost CJ Gardner-Johnson indefinitely with a lacerated kidney. The Eagles will need to work hard to slow the Titans’ rushing attack down as well as make sure they don’t get taken advantage of with play-action passes.
Key Offensive Matchup
As good as the Titans are at running the ball, the Eagles are better. However, the Titans’ defense is very strong against the run. This will be a meeting of an irresistible force in the form of the Eagles’ fourth most rushing yards per game against an immovable object in the form of the Titans’ third least rushing yards allowed per game.
Because the Titans are so good against the run, look for the Eagles to focus more than usual on the passing game. Jalen Hurts passed and ran well against the Packers and I think he’ll be able to do the same against the Titans. The Titans will likely try to make the Eagles one-dimensional on offense by completely stopping the run. However, Hurts has the ability to move around and hurt them with his feet and arm and I expect he’ll do so. The Eagles’ passing game will be the key to their chances.
Mike Vrabel and the Titans tend to show up big in spots like this when they are underdogs. However, I think the Eagles offense will be too much for them to handle.
Looking at lines on WynnBet this week the Moneyline is -240 (if you bet $100, you will only profit $41.67), which exceeds my comfort level. I normally won’t bet a Moneyline unless it’s under -200. Despite my sense that this will be a close game, I like the Eagles to win by a touchdown, therefore the Eagles -5.5 is the selection. I expected the Eagles to be favored by seven or more for the third week in a row so getting a little more cushion makes me comfortable. The total for the game is set at 44.5. I won’t be betting the total because I just don’t like where it lands. The focus on the run game and the Titans’ defense slowing the potent offense down may limit scoring, so if I had to pick I’d take the under. Again, that’s not a bet I’m willing to take myself though.
Looking at prop bets and considering that I think the Titans are going to really focus on stopping the run, I’m turning to Jalen Hurts this week. Hurts over 219.5 passing yards feels solid. Last week Devonta Smith and AJ Brown both had 4 receptions. I think with a focus on the passing game, Brown will get going early and go over 5.5 receptions.
Justin Mark is co-host of SGPN Fantasy Football’s show “Old-Fashioned Football”, and co-host of a show on the NFL Gambling Podcast, which airs every Wednesday at 3:30 Eastern time on YouTube. He’s also a writer for the Sports Gambling Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @JMarkFootball and The Sports Gambling Podcast @GamblingPodcast.