Hard to believe NFL Week 15 is here. And here’s something else that’s hard to believe:
Philadelphia Eagles 24, New Orleans Saints 21
OK, who saw that coming?
As jubilation reigns for their fans, relevance returns at least this week for Eagles backers at New Jersey online sportsbooks. The NJ sports betting crowd doesn’t care about the team’s 4-8-1 record, only the fact that Philadelphia defeated the 10-win Saints, the NFC’s top team at kickoff.
That warrants a cameo-role resurrection of the NFC East picture, which Eagles bettors had already buried.
The Birds lead off the Odds Five.
Eagles Week 15: Optimism vs. realism
So how should bettors view the Philadelphia Eagles odds of winning the NFC East at this point?
Well, as the Birds prepare for a Week 15 road matchup against the Arizona Cardinals, here’s a look at optimism vs. reality.
Optimism: This week’s game against the Arizona Cardinals has far more significance than it did last week. Season-ending battles at the Dallas Cowboys and at home against the Washington Football Team could become meaningful.
Realism: The battle remains an uphill one, as the Eagles trail division-leading Washington by 1.5 games. The Eagles must cut one game off of that margin over the next two weeks for the finale to matter.
Washington hosts the 9-4 Seattle Seahawks in Week 15 and the 4-9 Carolina Panthers in Week 16. If Washington captures just one of its next two games, a likely possibility, the Eagles must win out against Arizona, Dallas, and Washington to steal the division.
Optimism: this week may represent Philadelphia’s best chance to cut into the margin. The Eagles can’t figure to get help from Carolina, but Seattle plays well in the Eastern time zone and is a medium-sized favorite to win over Washington.
Realism: An Eagles loss and a Washington win Sunday against Seattle would knock Philadelphia out of the race. Arizona has seven wins while the Eagles are underdogs by nearly a touchdown. Running the table, when two of the three teams on the schedule have more wins than you do, is asking a lot.
In this crystal ball, the Giants need to drop a game too, but that’s likely, even probable, as they host the Cleveland Browns and visit the Baltimore Ravens.
Will the Jalen Hurts chapter continues?
These are the best odds an Eagles backer will get the rest of the way. Dallas would need hell to freeze over, twice. Any loss or a Washington victory begins its offseason.
Philadelphia will feel good about its chances behind rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts. He lifted the intensity level of the entire team as the Eagles gouged a rushing record the Saints had been proud of. New Orleans had not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 55 straight games. That’s three- and one-half seasons.
But the Birds burned them not with just one, but two 100-yard rushers in Miles Sanders and Hurts. Sanders drilled them for 82 yards on one play, a touchdown putting the Eagles up 17-0 late in the second quarter. Hurts gives the Eagles an important running component outside the pocket.
The Eagles had a certain look in this game. Can they carry it over?
And will Hurts get another start? Head coach Doug Pederson had yet to name his Week 15 starting QB as of Monday morning.
Washington riding hot streak
They toppled the San Francisco 49ers 23-15 Sunday to obtain two road victories in one week. Coupled with last Monday’s 23-17 triumph over the previously-unbeaten Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington has vaulted to 6-7. The team not only surpassed the DraftKings Sportsbook projected win total of 5.5 games, but triumphed in unlikely fashion against San Francisco.
Washington’s offense failed to score a touchdown against the Niners. But its defense reached the end zone twice to carry the team on its shoulders. Washington’s offense had less than 200 yards, but the team won.
This is a special Washington defensive group, bailing out a weak offense. Washington lost quarterback Alex Smith in the second half and its potential number one is, guess who, the old number one.
Dwayne Haskins began the year as Washington’s top QB, was demoted all the way to third string, and did not even come to a couple of games.
Now he may be asked to lead the team, although that will be determined by Smith’s health status.
How fitting is it that that all four NFC East teams have needed backup quarterbacks this year?
Giants and Jets flounder on Sunday
The Giants laid an egg following four consecutive victories that had vaulted them into first place. Sunday’s 26-7 loss to the Arizona Cardinals was as ugly as it gets. The offense, in Daniel Jones’ return, was clueless.
It was hard to believe this was the same team that had just defeated the Seattle Seahawks. Jones returned from a hamstring injury and appeared to re-aggravate it. The Giants should bench him and try again with Colt McCoy when they oppose the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens in their next two games.
They face two highly-powered offensive teams and must have at least a reasonable running attack to shorten the game. Big Blue went from trying to gain control of the division to now having its work cut out.
And the New York Jets, who continued their march to infamy with Sunday’s 40-3 debacle at Seattle, now must visit the Los Angeles Rams amid the perception that they have quit.
Here’s what happened Sunday to the now 0-13 Jets:
Three missed field goals when the game was still relevant. Three.
They also suffered from the bad things that happen to bad teams. When the Jets trailed 17-3, Seattle was guilty of an uncalled pass-interference penalty that would have given the Jets the ball at the Seattle 1. After that came a missed field goal.
In the second half, the Jets did quit.
Green Bay Packers head NFC stack
The Green Bay Packers assumed the top NFC top seed with Sunday’s triumph over the Detroit Lions, coupled with the Eagles’ upset of the Saints.
Green Bay plays its next two games at home, versus the Carolina Panthers and Tennessee Titans, before concluding at the Chicago Bears.
Green Bay, which holds the top spot by virtue of beating New Orleans early in the year, tries to gain a commanding position with a Week 15 victory and the possibility of New Orleans losing at home to Kansas City.
Only the No. 1 seed gets a bye in this year’s playoff race, making that spot precious.
Week 15 around the league
The Kansas City Chiefs visit New Orleans as the new top seed in the AFC, now that Pittsburgh has dropped two in a row. They lost 26-15 to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday night. Kansas City has much at stake, as Pittsburgh holds the tie-breaker if the teams end the season deadlocked.
Bettors and NJ sportsbooks love the staggered schedule of Week 15 games, with Saturday coming into the mix.
The Las Vegas Raiders begin the Week 15 slate Thursday as an outside-looking-in playoff hopeful hosting the Los Angeles Chargers. Neither team has a good defense, both teams make a lot of mistakes. It should be an entertaining game.
A shootout is already baked into the over-under line of 54.5, DraftKings’ highest of the week.
On Saturday, Buffalo visits the Denver Broncos and the Packers face the Panthers.
And the Steelers visiting the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night closes out Week 15.
photo by ASSOCIATED PRESS