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Eagles vs. Jaguars prediction: Can Pederson play spoiler in Philly return?

Former Eagles coach Doug Pederson returns to Philadelphia on Sunday in a spoiler role with the underdog Jaguars.

Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson will return to Philadelphia on Sunday for the first time since the Eagles fired him following the 2020 season. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson will return to Philadelphia on Sunday for the first time since the Eagles fired him following the 2020 season. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)Read moreMarcio Jose Sanchez / AP

Less than five years ago, Doug Pederson led the Eagles to their only Super Bowl win in franchise history. On Sunday, he’ll return to Philadelphia for the first time since the team fired him following the 2020 season. Oddsmakers aren’t expecting a storybook return.

The undefeated Eagles are dealing as 6.5-point favorites at BetMGM over Pederson’s Jaguars, who pulled off one of the biggest upsets of this young season as similarly priced underdogs last week in Los Angeles. Can Jacksonville make it two in a row, or will Philly continue its perfect start in Week 4?

Here’s how we’re betting Sunday’s contest, which kicks off at 1 p.m. ET on CBS.

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Eagles vs. Jaguars Prediction

  1. Eagles -6.5 (-110 BetMGM)

Eagles vs. Jaguars Prediction: The Analysis

This is one of the toughest games of the week to call, as both of these teams can make a legitimate case that they’re undervalued in the betting market. Typically, that doesn’t make for a strong play on either side. But I just can’t shake the idea that the Eagles win this game with conviction after what we’ve seen through the first three weeks.

That isn’t to discredit Jacksonville, which is clearly improved from last season and, as far as quarterback Trevor Lawrence is concerned, a “really good team.” There’s some merit to that argument. The Jaguars rank second in DVOA after blowout wins over the Colts and Chargers, and they’re the only team with a top-five mark on both offense and defense.

Pederson deserves plenty of credit for that, especially on the offensive end. Before Pederson took over as head coach this year, Lawrence ranked 28th in QBR (33.5) as a rookie. This year, he ranks seventh (70.8) with the single-biggest jump by any quarterback in that metric, and he ranks sixth in completion rate (69.4%) and passer rating (103.1).

» READ MORE: When will the Eagles lose their first game? BetMGM has a prop, and you can pick

A key change has been how quickly Lawrence is getting rid of the ball. His average time to throw (2.41 seconds) ranks eighth among qualified passers, and he ranks third in completion rate (80%) on throws of 2.5 seconds or less. There’s only one problem with that: this Eagles defense excels against quick passes, allowing the fourth-lowest QBR (27) on such throws and the lowest completion rate (57%), yards per attempt (4.0), and TD-to-INT ratio (1-2), per NFL Next Gen Stats.

If the Jaguars’ offense isn’t humming like usual, I don’t see them being able to keep pace with this explosive Philly offense, which leads the league in yards per game (447) and ranks fifth in scoring (28.7 PPG). Jalen Hurts has been a revelation this year, ranking fourth in passing yards (916) and 22nd in rushing yards (167) among all players entering Sunday.

No team has figured out how to crack the Konami Code that is Hurts and this high-powered attack, bolstered by the league’s best offensive line and an array of talented skill-position stars. This is a hefty charge against a team that could certainly make things interesting, but until we see the Eagles falter, I’m happy to pay the price on the best team in the NFC.

Eagles vs. Jaguars Odds (via BetMGM)

  1. Eagles -6.5 (-110), moneyline -275

  2. Jaguars +6.5 (-110), moneyline +220

  3. O/U 45.5 (-110)

» READ MORE: Full sports betting coverage from The Philadelphia Inquirer

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