Eagles rising in Super Bowl talk
November 21, 2017 3:00 AM
by Andy Iskoe
VIP Pigskin Picks | Eleven down and six to go. All 32 teams have had their Bye weeks and each team has played 10 of their 16 game schedule. Every team will be in action in each of the final six weeks of the regular season, beginning with the three games to be played this Thursday, Thanksgiving Day.
Eleven down and six to go. All 32 teams have had their Bye weeks and each team has played 10 of their 16 game schedule. Every team will be in action in each of the final six weeks of the regular season, beginning with the three games to be played this Thursday, Thanksgiving Day.
As the final third of the season unfolds Divisional and Wild Card races are beginning to have clarity and the list of teams vying for opening round Byes and those vying for Wild Cards are getting shorter.
Based on their first 10 games combined with their current form Philadelphia appears to be the class of the NFC while defending Super Bowl champion New England holds that same position in the AFC.
The 9-1 Eagles hold a one game lead over both Minnesota and New Orleans for the top NFC seed. Of the NFL’s 8 Divisions, the leaders in 5 of them have at least 2 games leads over the second place teams.
Philadelphia has a whopping 4 game lead over Dallas in the East and Minnesota is up 2 over Detroit in the North. The Vikings and Lions meet in the traditional Thanksgiving Day game in Detroit.
New Orleans has a one game lead over Carolina in the South and a win by Seattle over Atlanta on Monday night would have tied the Seahawks with the LA Rams atop the West at 7-3.
In the AFC, New England has a 3 game lead over Buffalo in the East and Pittsburgh is 3 ahead of Baltimore in the North. The Patriots and Steelers are tied for the top AFC seed with 8-2 records and will meet in Pittsburgh for Week 15 with the top seed likely on the line.
Despite losing 4 of its last 5, Kansas City has a 2 game lead over both the Chargers and Raiders in the West. But the Chiefs look nothing like the team that started the season 5-0 with a defense that has struggled and an offense that has sputtered over the last month. Jacksonville (7-3) has a 1 game lead over Tennessee in the South.
Carolina, also at 7-3, controls one of the two Wild Cards in the NFC with Seattle tied with the Panthers after Monday night if they defeated Atlanta. A loss to the Falcons would have Atlanta, Seattle and Detroit all at 6-4.
In the AFC Tennessee (6-4) controls the first Wild Card with a pair of 5-5 teams, Buffalo and Baltimore, tied for the second slot. That means the 6 teams with 4-6 records are only one game out of the second AFC Wild Card.
Baltimore is an interesting team to watch. The Ravens have shut out three opponents this season – Cincinnati, Green Bay and Miami – with two of them on the road. They have a coach (John Harbaugh) and QB (Joe Flacco) who have been together for a decade and have won a Super Bowl together. Their upcoming schedule is extremely favorable with home games against Houston and Detroit followed by road games at Pittsburgh and Cleveland.
Baltimore closes the season with home games against Indianapolis and Cincinnati. The Ravens are likely to be favored in 5 of those 6 games and at odds of 100-1 to win the Super Bowl and 50-1 to win the AFC they might be worth taking a flyer with hedging possibilities should they make the Playoffs, most likely as a Wild Card.
I am often asked what I look for in handicapping and betting NFL games and over the years I have become more convinced that three factors continue to point to success even as the nature of the game changes.
The ability to run the football, avoid turning it over and playing tough defense all point to success both on the scoreboard and at the betting windows. I often refer to these factors in my writeups and appearances on the radio, looking to isolate those teams that have significant edges in one or more of those categories. In the current NFL environment flashy passing attacks get most of the attention but defense, turnover avoidance and running the football still are the key ingredients of success.
These factors bear watching over the final month and a half of the regular season and into the Playoffs as the weather turns chilly and the elements come into play, more often than not hindering the chances of teams that rely on the passing game at the expense of a solid running game.
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NY Giants +7 at Washington (44): These NFC East rivals have a history of competitive games and the Giants have covered 6 of their last 8 meetings. At 4-6 the pressure is all on the hosts if they are to make a run at a Wild Card. The 2-8 Giants have no such pressure and as such can be aggressive and take chances. And there’s plenty of room to stay within the pointspread even if they come up short on the scoreboard. NY GIANTS