By Justin Mark, SGPN Football Handicapper
There is an undeniable national buzz about the Eagles as they open the 2022 season favored by 4 points on the road in Detroit against the HBO “Hard Knocks”-featured Detroit Lions. The wagering public has been backing Detroit in preseason bets and futures and now more than 70% of analysts (according to Oddstrader) are picking the Lions plus the points as kickoff nears. Here’s how we see this game and check out all of my picks at the Sports Gambling Podcast Network.
Even with that support, I wouldn’t be so fast to jump on the Lions plus 4 points. Last year, they finished as one of the worst defenses statistically – 31st in points allowed, 29th in total yards allowed, 23rd in passing yards allowed, and 29th in rushing yards allowed. Despite adding some pieces on defense, the Eagles offense should have the upper hand after finishing 10th in points, 12th in total yards, 26th in passing yards, but 1st in rushing yards. The passing game should only get better with the addition of A.J. Brown.
Key Defensive Matchup
All eyes will be on newly-acquired defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, whom the Eagles traded for last week. The Lions have a lot of receiving options but still finished 19th last year in passing yards. The Eagles should be able to stop the Lions from moving the ball easily in the air. The key defensive matchup will involve the two Georgia rookies, Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean, against the run. D’Andre Swift has been a top 10 running back pick in fantasy football drafts as people expect a big year out of the Lions star running back. We see Davis and Dean making an immediate impact by slowing him down.
Key Offensive Matchup
The Lions drafted edge rusher Aiden Hutchinson with the second pick in the draft to help start turning their defense around. The Eagles’ offensive line will need to make sure they know where he is lining up at all times, as he’ll look to make a splash in his first regular season game. However, the bigger intrigue involves how well Jalen Hurts and A.J. Brown gel together on the field. Brown was acquired from the Titans and should provide an immediate boost to the Eagles’ passing game. Both Hurts and Brown are being drafted inside the top 12 of their respective positions by fantasy aficionados as everybody expects big things out of them this year.
My gut and the key indicators tell me the Eagles win this one easily for a couple of different reasons. First, the public is on the Lions, and it’s normally a good play to fade (bet against) the public. Sports books make a lot of money for a reason. The second reason is the Eagles’ offense. On paper, it is much better than the Lions and they should be able to easily control the game. The total is a bit high, but right where I’d expect it to be and I do like taking the over on opening weekend when the teams are fired up and wanting to prove themselves on offense. Using WynnBet, I’m taking Eagles -4 and Over 48.5.
Justin Mark is co-host of SGPN Fantasy Football’s show “Old-Fashioned Football” and a writer for the Sports Gambling Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @JMarkFootball and The Sports Gambling Podcast @GamblingPodcast.