NFL Playoffs Wk 2 Falcons - Eagles

NFL Playoffs Wk 2 Falcons - EaglesWhen Carson Wentz went down a month ago with an ACL tear, Philadelphia’s Super Bowl odds went down with him, dropping from +400 to +1000 or worse at many Vegas and offshore sportsbooks. And that makes some sense, as no team that loses its MVP-caliber QB late in the season ever has much success in the NFL playoffs. However, there is a silver lining for Philly as the Falcons vs. Eagles odds demonstrate: They are the smallest underdog of the Divisional round. The Eagles spread is +3 at most betting shops, and they are only +140 on the moneyline. So how does a team coming into the wood-chipper with a career backup at the helm keep the odds so close against the reigning NFC champs? Simple – their defense and their running game.

While the Eagles defense is ranked 4th in the NFL (of playoff teams, only Jacksonville and Minnesota are ranked higher), it’s their ground game that has the most potential to stop the Falcons in their tracks. The Eagles’ superior rushing attack – ranked 3rd in the league – could limit Atlanta’s offense, just as it did last season in November, when the Falcons were held to a season low of 15 points (down from their 33.8 PPG average). The Eagles accomplished this by running the ball – and the clock – down the Falcons’ throats, outrushing the Dirty Birds 208-48 and holding the ball for 38:10 to the Falcons’ 21:50. If the Eagles can eat up the hourglass and keep Matt Ryan off the field, it won’t matter how healthy the defending MVP or his receiving corps is. Plus, with the best rushing defense in the NFL, the Eagles should already own the edge in making Ryan and company effectively one-dimensional.

SportsBettingPennsylvania.com knows much of the Eagles’ opportunity to beat the Falcons undoubtedly lies in backup QB Nick Foles’ hands. However, if he limits his mistakes and simply plays competent ball for 60 minutes, there’s no reason to think that the rest of the Philly squad won’t pick up the slack. Foles, who owns a career TD-to-INT tally of 61-29, is certainly capable of playing mistake-free football, and many fans and bettors are relying on exactly that as they bank on the upset. That said, don’t expect the lines at Bovada or SportsBetting (or any other legal online sportsbook) to change much in the lead-up to Saturday’s showdown (4:35 PM, NBC), as the Eagles spread is likely as favorable as it’s going to get.

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