The consensus among our staff is that the underdog Eagles will cover. Our handicapper, Vegas Vic, says they'll win the game outright. Here's a look at this weekend's four games. Home teams are in CAPS.
Quick hit: The under has hit in 12 of the Falcons 17 games.
Falcons straight up: 11-6. Falcons vs. spread: 8-9.
Eagles straight up: 13-3. Eagles vs. spread: 10-6.
Vegas Vic's take: Get in the time machine with me — we're going back all the way to 1970. No No. 1-seed since the merger has ever been an underdog. EVER! So basically, the Birds have become the Rodney Dangerfield of the NFL. They get NO RESPECT.
Most of it has to do with the injury to Carson Wentz and the shaky play of Nick Foles. After a four TD effort against the Giants, Foles looked kinda eh against the Raiders and Cowboys. Giving him a pass for the Dallas game, and now that he has had three starts and an extra week of practice, we're expecting MAGIC. Why not?
>> READ MORE: Complete coverage previewing the Eagles-Falcons game
Back into the time machine, this time to 2013 and the playoff game against the Saints. Yes, it was a 26-24 loss, but Foles was pretty solid in that game, hitting on 23/33 for 195 yards with two TDs and NO INTs. The Green Machine has covered 11 of the last 16 at home, and with the help of the NFL's third-ranked defense, should stay close enough to pull out a W. Birds 24-23.
Titans straight up: 10-7. Titans vs. spread: 9-7-1.
Patriots straight up: 13-3. Patriots vs. spread: 11-5.
Vegas Vic's take: Yes, the numbers are OVERWHELMING. New England is a monster. Best offense in the league. Arguably, the best QB, Tom Brady, of all time. Arguably, the best coach, Bill Belichick, of all time. A weapon, Rob Gronkowski, that NO ONE has an answer for. And now they are motivated by the wacky stories about Double B looking to leave the Patriots for a job with the New York Giants. Pile it on why don'tcha. Of course, there is a "however."
Double M, Marcus Mariota, with a little luck, and a batted pass back to himself for a TD, performed OK in his first career playoff game (19/31 for 205 yards, with 2 TDs and 1 INT). But the reason for looking at Tennessee is the Pats have the fourth-worst D in the league. They're 30th in passing D, and 20th in running D. Of course, Belichick will have some crazy wrinkles after the week off, but we're gonna stay light and take the Titans. P.S. If you can, buy the hook and make the spread an even 14.
Quick hit: Overall, the under has come out in 10 of the Steelers 16 games. But more recently, over is 4-1 in their home games since mid-November.
Jaguars straight up: 11-6. Jaguars vs. spread: 9-8.
Steelers straight up: 13-3. Steelers vs. spread: 7-9.
Vegas Vic's take: What's the old saying? Revenge is a dish best served cold? Or for my French speaking fans, "La vengeance est un plat qu'il vaut mieux manger froid."
Any way you serve it, or any language you choose, it's gonna be Pittsburgh that will be smoking the victory cigar. Where does the revenge come from? In Week 5, the Jaguars rolled into Heinz Field, and EMBARRASSED the Steelers with a 30-9 W. Ben Roethlisberger wondered out loud if he "still has it" after throwing five INTs.
Yeah, he still has IT! The Steelmen went on to win 11 of 12 after that to get a vital week off. Now look at the other QB, Blake Bortles, and you start to shake. In that huge win at Pittsburgh, Bortles was actually UGLY, completing just 8/14 for 95 yards with NO TDs and 1 INT. And his passer rating was in the toilet at 48.2. Doesn't matter if it's in French or English, there's only one thing left to say. This IS my BEST BET, BABY … or MEILLEUR PARI, BEBE!
Quick hit: The Vikings were 6-1-1 against the spread at home this season.
Saints straight up: 12-5. Saints vs. spread: 9-8.
Vikings straight up: 13-3. Vikings vs. spread: 11-4-1.
Vegas Vic's take: Another revenge situation, this time for New Orleans.
In the season opener, the Saints lost to the Vikings in Minnesota, 29-19. MY how things have changed. In that game, New Orleans trotted out Adrian Peterson, and he managed to squeeze out only 19 yards on six attempts. A.P. was sent packing after four games, and the Saints turned to Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. Ingram rumbled for 1,124 yards and 12 TDs, while all Kamara did was lead the league in yards per carry at 6.1.
Yeah, yeah, I know that the Purple People were second in the NFL in rushing D, but if they load up on the run, there's this guy named Drew Brees that will operate with surgical precision. C'mon, we're talking Brees, not Mitchell Trubisky (No. 29 QB rating), Brett Hundley (24th) or Andy Dalton (25th), the last three Minny opponents. Also, PLZ keep an eye on Vikings C Pat Elflein. He has a bum shoulder and says he's gonna play. But if there's a setback, and he's out, we would open our wallet a little wider. If Elf plays, we still take the plus 5, but not as heavy.