Philadelphia Eagles (3-0 SU, 3-0 ATS) vs. Detroit Lions (1-3 SU, 1-3 ATS)
Week 5 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, October 9, 2016 at 1PM EST
Where: Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: PHI -2.5/DET +2.5
Over/Under Total: 46
The Philadelphia Eagles come to Ford Field to face the Detroit Lions in week 5 NFC action. The Eagles have been one of the surprises of the early 2016 NFL season, stringing together three wins to begin the head coaching tenure of Doug Pederson and the QB career of Carson Wentz. After wins over the Browns and Bears, there were some who were skeptical of this supposed Philly revival, but the Eagles really raised some eyebrows with their week 3 slaughter of the Pittsburgh Steelers. After a bye week, they visit the Lions, who have seen things go sideways after a promising week one road win over the Colts. On Sunday, they lost their third game in a row with a 17-14 loss to the previously-winless Bears. They look to find answers at home against the Eagles this week.
Philly's 34-3 win over the Steelers was the most eyebrow-raising result on the board in week 3. The Eagles were 2-0, but with wins over the Bears and the Browns, people were still holding out. A lot of us were forced to take notice on the heels of that result. To hold Pittsburgh to a lone field goal on the day, while scoring 34 points on what looked to be an improved defense is a major piece of progress for an Eagles' team that had gotten sideways last season. You can't ask for a better start for new head coach Doug Pederson or rookie QB Carson Wentz.
Against Pittsburgh, Wentz added another cherry to his early-career resume, as he is now 3-0 as a starter. It's all the more amazing when we remember how he was abruptly moved into the starting role after it looked like he'd be spending 2016 with a clipboard in his hand. He's been excellent and in week three, he was 23-for-31 with 301 yards and a pair of TD throws. He has completed 65 of 102 passes so far this season with no interceptions. Wentz hit Darren Sproles on a 73-yard TD, with the still-lethal small man ending up with 128 yards in the air. Jordan Matthews caught a touchdown and TE Brent Celek made a few big grabs. They're starting to cultivate a nice back in WVU rookie Wendell Smallwood, who ran for 79 yards and a score. Kenjon Barner also ran for a TD on 42 yards rushing. At the beginning of the season, this offense looked bleak, with a rookie QB and a depleted-looking cast of offensive producers. We've been forced to rethink that.
The Philly defense has given up a paltry 27 points this season and it's time we start taking a hard look at this bunch after holding the Steelers to almost nothing. Seven of those 27 points were scored on a punt return. This defense looks very inspired through three weeks and look to put pressure on Alex Smith this week after being in Big Ben's face all Sunday. Fletcher Cox had two sacks, while Brandon Graham and Bennie Logan also added sacks. Safety Rodney McLeod, another key Eagles offseason acquisition, also picked off his 2nd ball of the season on Sunday. Holding the Steelers to 251 yards of total offense was awfully-impressive.
We need to take the Eagles seriously, but we should temper it a bit. They're heading into a territory that can be difficult and facing a team that when clicking can be pretty dangerous. Wentz, with three NFL starts under his belt, might be seeing some things for the first time this week. And maybe with the revamped bye week system and the Eagles catching somewhat of an untimely early-season bye, their momentum has cooled a bit. While some, like Ryan Mathews (ankle), could use the extra time for nagging injuries, the bye did seem to come at a bad time.
Detroit definitely hit a low point on Sunday. With a chance to even the season at 2-2 and facing a team that had looked like the most dysfunctional team in the conference with their backup QB, it was really a must-win. After getting on a big winning roll in the second-half of the season in 2015 and with the big shootout win over Indy in week one, hopes were high. They then laid three big eggs. Then again, they've shown they can reverse form on a dime, so you can never be too dismissive of this team. Still, Sunday was indeed a bad sign moving forward. Whereas Philly cruises into week five rested and unbeaten, Detroit lands on this spot with a thud.
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The Detroit offense still needs to be respected. Matthew Stafford can be explosive, just as he can be off-key. While he has been averaging 300 a game, he's thrown 4 picks in the last 3 games. His pair of interceptions against Chicago was critical. Eight of their 14 points on Sunday came from a punt-return for a TD, just to illustrate how subdued the offense was. And the absence of Ameer Abdullah only compounds an already-iffy run-game. Useful Theo Reddick adds production, but it's an afterthought to the passing-game. Speaking of which, there are both positive and negative signs. The explosion of Marvin Jones has added a lot, as he is second in the league in receiving. Tight end Eric Ebron is becoming a more consistent contributor this season. It's just a very inconsistent group. Golden Tate has been very quiet after a big year. They torched Indy in week one before scoring just 15 at home against the Titans the next week. They put up 27 at Green Bay and then 14 at Chicago.
After some tough road spots, Detroit gets the next three games at home and this is where damage has to be done. And just as their offense has been undependable, so has their defense, playing with wide range of form even from quarter-to-quarter. They should be getting pass-rusher Ziggy Ansah back this week. Against an Eagles team that seems to have everything on the right track, this level of dysfunction and erratic play could cost Detroit big. Then again, if Detroit were to get their offense untracked this week at home, would it be all that much of a surprise? It just might not be as dire as it looks when you see a 3-0 Eagles team flying high and a Detroit team on the skids having just lost to the 0-3 Bears. Still, I see Philly coming through as a road favorite this week
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Philadelphia Eagles minus 2.5 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today by signing up and betting the Eagles vs. Lions game at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 100% sign-up bonus!