There have been five NFL games already this season with spreads of at least 13 points. There are two more again this week, including the first involving the Eagles. There’d be three more this week, but the lowly Dolphins have a bye.
New England is favored by 15.5 over the Redskins, and the Eagles, as of Thursday morning, were laying 13.5 to the Jets. It’s among the most points the Eagles have been favored by in the last four decades, but more on that later.
“[The] public is all over the Eagles, especially after their big win in Lambeau last Thursday,” said Matt Chaprales, PointsBet USA head of content. “Current split is about 70/30 both tickets and money. Expecting the Philly money to continue to flow in, so wouldn’t be surprised if this game closes at 14.”
Some places have 14 already.
These will be the 38th and 39th NFL games since the beginning of 2017 with spreads of 13 or more. In the three years between 2014-16, there were 19. And we’re only in Week 5 here in 2019; the tanking Dolphins figure to be double-digit ‘dogs at least seven more times, including Dec. 1 when the Eagles go to Miami.
“There is more volatility in large lines and we will tend to move those more aggressively,” said Jeff Sherman, VP of risk management for the SuperBook at the Westgate in Las Vegas. “Almost as you see [opening] lines involving -2.5 or less across the pick ‘em line.”
In other words, Sherman is more inclined to make quick adjustments to huge lines based on what the bettors are doing.
The reason for inflated lines usually boils down to the underdogs having horrendous quarterbacks.
The Jets likely will start Luke Falk against the Eagles as Sam Darnold misses his third game with mononucleosis. Falk started the season on the practice squad and has not led a touchdown drive in the two games he’s played.
Darnold will be evaluated on Friday, suggesting he possibly could play Sunday, but it would be a surprise.
Before the season started, PointsBet posted spreads on all 16 Eagles games. They had the Eagles at -6.5 for this week, with no idea that Darnold wouldn’t be playing. They took enough action from sharp bettors to move the line to 7. The spread is now double that number.
» From the archives: Preseason lines for every Eagles’ game
The Redskins likely will be starting quarterback Colt McCoy against the Patriots this week. McCoy missed all of training camp because of a broken leg he suffered last season. But he’s become the top option because opening-day starter Case Keenum has been ineffective and rookie Dwayne Haskins isn’t ready.
Not to pile on, but Washington coach Jay Gruden is fighting for his job and whoever he runs out there will be facing a Patriots defense that has given up one touchdown in 53 opposing possessions in four games. The line would probably be 20 if the game was in New England.
“Generally bettors shy away from those [excessive] lines,” Sherman said. “Except when New England was laying 21 to the Jets and Dallas was -21.5 to Miami [both in Week 3]. Those were two of our larger decisions that week. But that’s the exception with the large lines.”
If the Jets line does go off at 14, it would tie for the most points the Eagles have been favored in the last nine years, according to Pro-Football-Reference.com. Some quick facts and figures:
— The most points the Eagles have laid since 1978 was 19 to Houston in 2002, which was the Texans’ first season. The Birds led 28-7 early in the third quarter after Brian Dawkins threw his only career touchdown pass (off a fake punt) and it looked like an easy cover. But Eagles’ bettors went home from Veterans Stadium a little salty when they took their foot off the gas and won 35-17.
— In Week 15 in 2008, the Eagles were in the midst of an unlikely playoff push and favored by 16 when they thumped Cleveland 30-10 on a Monday night.
— In 1992, the Eagles were 15-point favorites to the 1-5 Cardinals and managed only a 7-3 win. It had been the fewest points ever scored by a team favored by that much until last season when the Vikings lost to Buffalo, 27-6.
— Two years ago, the Eagles were 14-point favorites and rolled the Bears, 31-3. That precariously stands as their largest spread under Doug Pederson.
— The Eagles are just 4-6 all-time against the spread when laying 14 or more.
— The largest the Eagles were underdogs was in 2007 when they visited New England in Week 12. They were 24.5-point underdogs, A.J. Feeley was the quarterback and the undefeated Patriots’ offense was averaging 41 points per game. The Eagles had the ball late with a chance to win before Feeley threw an interception in the 31-28 loss.
— The favorite is 17-20 in the last three years when the spread is 13 or more.
— The Eagles play at winless Miami in Week 13. Chaprales, from PointsBet, said the line would be about 17 if the game was being played this weekend.
— The Eagles are just the fifth team in the last two years to win a Thursday night game on the road. The previous four all lost their next game outright and were 1-3 against the spread. The Eagles last year won at the Giants on Thursday in Week 6 and lost at home to Carolina the following game.
— William Hill-US will have a sportsbook at the Capital One Arena in downtown Washington, D.C. It’s the first in the United States within a pro sports facility. Licensing restrictions make it unlikely sportsbooks would ever come to Philadelphia stadiums, but the prevalence of mobile betting makes it superfluous anyhow.
— Auburn is laying 2.5 at Florida in the most attractive college football game of the weekend. Auburn, UL-Lafayette, SMU (all 5-0) and Oklahoma State (4-0-1) are the remaining teams undefeated against the spread, according to DonBest.com.