Eagles – Rams: Pregame Thoughts

Breakdown is below, but here are some brief thoughts for today:

– Remember how I said last week didn’t really matter?  Well today’s game is the opposite. It doesn’t feel like an early season game against a non-divisional, mediocre-bad team should be meaningful, but it is.  Home games against teams clearly worse than you need to be converted to wins.  Doing so gives you the margin for error you need heading down the stretch.  Andy Reid’s team often dropped these games, which is why the late-season runs were so stressful.  Take care of business today (and for all of these games) and the end of season divisional stretch becomes much easier.

– I hate to be obvious, but today really is about Nick Foles, Shady, and Lane Johnson.  The Rams have just 1 sack in three games, so the stage is set for an Eagles offensive rebound.   I’ll be paying close attention to Johnson and the interior of the o-line.  If that part of the team performs, Foles will be fine.

– Look for the deep ball.  That was a big part of Foles’ success last season, and he’s struggling with it this year.  Not a surprise given the Eagles lost the best deep threat in the game, but there have still be opportunities for big plays.  Foles has overthrown Maclin and Cooper on a number of occasions.  If he can’t dial it in and adjust to their speed, the Eagles become a much less dangerous team to play against.

– Austin Davis is an unknown.  I screwed up earlier this year by underestimating Kirk Cousins, and this feels like a similar situation….but it’s not.  Where Cousins had Alfred Morries, Pierre Garcon, and D-Jax…Davis has Zach Stacy, Jared Cook, Brian Quick, Kenny Britt, etc… This should be a much easier matchup for the Eagles’ defense.

– The Rams have been lucky so far recovering fumbles.  They’ve put the ball on the ground 7 times in 3 games this year, and they’ve recovered 6 of them.  That doesn’t tell us anything about what will happen today, but it does suggest that the Rams are even worse than their record/point differential suggests.  This is just not a good team.

That’s all for now but see the breakdown below for a bit more.   I’m very confident about this game, but even a 7 point favorite loses about 20% of the time.

My picks record to date:

Line: 2 – 2

O/U: 1 – 3

Reader record:

Line: 2 – 2

O/U: 3 – 1

This week’s lines:

Eagles -7 (-110)

Rams +7 (-110)

Over 47.5 (-110)

Under 47.5 (-110)

Reviewing last week:

That was a tough one.  The Eagles were 2 yards from a probable win, and readers here probably realized they were also 2 yards from covering the spread AND hitting the over.  Close doesn’t count, though, so rather than my first perfect week, I had my first winless one.  The injuries on the O-Line finally affected the offense in a big way.  Lest anyone forget, the Eagles’ offense is heavily dependent on the run game.  They get a lot of big plays through the air, but that’s mostly via play-action and doesn’t work without the rushing threat.  When Chip Kelly won’t even try running the ball from 2 yards out, you can be damn sure the offensive line is having an awful game.  Still, aside from the hit to my record, the loss really doesn’t hurt the Eagles that much.

This week’s game:

The Eagles are big favorites, as they should be.  The Rams rank 29th overall by DVOA, compared to 9th for the Eagles.  Most importantly, the Rams defense ranks 30th.  They’ve only played 3 games (bye last week), but gave up 34 points in two of them (Vikings andCowboys, both at home).  With Lane Johnson back in the lineup, I expect big things from the Eagles offense this week.  I know the Eagles’ offense looked terrible last week, so forecasting a big day might seem foolish.  However, it’s really hard to exaggerate just how bad the O-Line struggled.  The fact that Herremans can slide back to G means the team has potentially made two BIG upgrades.  Along with a bad defense, that’s a recipe for a strong rebound.

The Eagles are averaging 30.5 points per game this season, and given what I said above I see no reason to expect them to perform below average.  30-31 points for is our floor.

On the other side, the Eagles defense is allowing 26 points per game.  However, the team ranks 11th overall in defensive DVOA.  3 of the four offenses the Eagles have faced can be considered mediocre (by DVOA).  The fourth, Jacksonville, is just bad (last in the league).  The Rams currently rank much closer to Jacksonville than they do to WAS, SF, or IND.  If we assume the Rams will be better than Jacksonville, but worse than the Eagles average opposition thus far, we get a range of 17-26 points against. On the season, the Rams are averaging just 18.7 points per game, and have played all three games against defenses currently ranked in the bottom third by DVOA.  Accounting for the competition, we’ve got a much narrower range of 17-19 points against for the Eagles.

There is, of course, one last complication.  The Rams are coming off a bye week, which has to count for something.  At most, I’m willing to credit them 1-2 points.  However, we can give them a full FG for the bye, bring the high end of their range to 22, and still have the Eagles winning by 8.

Thus, take the Eagles -7. Note that this is the first game I’m willing to assign high confidence to.  That’ll probably come back to bite me in the ass, but since I’m picking every Eagles game, regardless of confidence level, I think it’s important to note when I think there’s actually an attractive wagering option.  Maybe I’ll think of some catchy name for it, but for now it’s just “High Confidence Pick”.

On the O/U side, we can add the low ends of the expected output ranges to get 47 points.  If we add the high ends we get 50 points.  Unfortunately, the line is set at 47.5, within our range.  Remember, though, that I said 30-31 points is really the low end of our projection.  So while I can’t assign as high a level of confidence to this pick, we still have a clear signal to take the over 47.5.

I’d probably wait to make sure Lane Johnson is definitely suiting up, but if he is, take a shot.

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2 thoughts on “Eagles – Rams: Pregame Thoughts

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