Two strong NFC East teams will go at it Monday Night Football when Philadelphia hosts Washington. More bettors have the home side in their NFL picks, but the money’s on the visitors.
Sharp bettors saw this coming. The Philadelphia Eagles are in the second year of the Doug Pederson-Carson Wentz Era, and both gentlemen showed promise in their rookie seasons. Alas, the Eagles missed the playoffs at 7-9 SU and 8-8 ATS, in no small part because Pro Bowl RT Lane Johnson was suspended 10 games for PED violations. Johnson is back, and Philadelphia is on top of the NFC East at 5-1 SU and 4-2 ATS. Well done.
There’s another team making waves in the NFL’s marquee division, but this one is flying a bit more under the radar. Washington (3-2 SU, 2-3 ATS) hasn’t gotten – or deserved – much positive publicity since QB Robert Griffin III broke down and was replaced by Kirk Cousins. Yet they might be the right pick for Monday Night Football against the soaring Eagles. At press time, Cousins and crew are 4.5-point road dogs on the NFL odds board, down from +5.5 at the open.
The betting patterns for Monday Night Football (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) are clear as day: The wiseguys like Washington. Check out the expanded consensus numbers at Sportsbook Review, which have Philadelphia pulling in 52 percent of bettors, and Washington with 73 percent of the amount wagered. That gives the visitors an average bet size of $164, third-highest on the Week 7 NFL betting slate. They also have four $1000+ bets compared to two for the Eagles ($58 average bet).
If only the math supported this action. We’re in the middle of the regular season now, and these NFL lines are getting tight; FiveThirtyEight projects Monday’s game at Philadelphia –5.5 (69-percent chance of winning), and ESPN’s Football Power Index is closer to Philly –6.5 (70.1 percent). Moving from there to –4.5 isn’t really that big of a deal, not enough to feel confident about picking either side, at least.
Wentz They Came
We might feel differently if Johnson hadn’t cleared concussion protocol in time for Monday night. He missed last week’s game against the Carolina Panthers, and the Eagles won anyway, 28-23 as 3-point road dogs; Wentz got sacked three times, but he also threw three TD passes. He and Cousins are playing at roughly the same level, according to the efficiency stats at Football Outsiders.
Here’s another advantage for the Eagles: They’re playing on a long week, after beating the Panthers last Thursday. Washington played the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday and won 26-24, barely covering as 12-point home faves. Now it’s their Pro Bowl LT who’s in the injury spotlight, as Trent Williams is playing through a knee injury that has him operating at less than full strength.
About the Weather
So what’s an NFL bettor to do? There aren’t any arbitration plays available for this matchup, but maybe the over/under will have some profit margin for us. We’re looking at a total of 49 points at press time, up from 48.5 at the open; the consensus reports show 55 percent of early bettors on the OVER, which isn’t much of an endorsement from the sharps – they often pound the OVER in much larger numbers, figuring that the open will be the best price they’ll get all week.
Since there isn’t anything of note as far as the weather reports are concerned, we’re not inclined to pick a side on the total, either. The Eagles beat Washington 30-17 in their season opener as 2-point road faves in an ugly game for both teams; if you want to put one of these teams in your NFL picks, consider the underdogs as a rebound candidate, but make it a small wager at the best price on the board.
Free Pick: Washington +4.5 (–105)
Best Line: Bovada