Friday, Sept. 19, 2014 | 2 a.m.
The Denver Broncos are the surest bet to win their division in the NFL this year.
Week 3: Redskins at Eagles
- Which side would you bet in the Sun's game of the week? (Public Opinion: 1-2 season)
- Eagles minus-6.5 — 59.4%
- Redskins plus-6.5 — 40.6%
This poll is closed, see Full Results »
Note: This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
The league’s second-most likely team to host a home playoff game after the first two weeks of the season is less obvious. Las Vegas betting lines say it’s the Philadelphia Eagles, with the odds giving the team a 65 percent chance to win the NFC East for the second straight year after adjusting for the house’s hold percentage.
The Eagles are minus-250 (risking $2.50 to win $1) to prevail, a massive adjustment from their opening price of plus-160 (risking $1 to win $1.60) at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook over the summer. Philadelphia has separated from its rivals despite the fact that there hasn’t been a single divisional game yet.
NFC East play opens at 10 Sunday morning with the Eagles hosting the Redskins, the team sports books give the best chance of preventing a repeat division champion for the first time in a decade, as 6.5-point favorites. Washington is 4-to-1 to win the NFC East, slightly better than its plus-450 opening price, after a 1-1 start.
Washington at Philadelphia is the Las Vegas Sun handicapping contest’s game of the week with two of the three prognosticators casting one of their six weekly wagers — available at the bottom of the page — on the contest.
The Eagles weren’t supposed to find themselves in this much of a power position so early on. Opening odds implied the NFC East would be the 2014 season’s most balanced set of teams, as all four squads were given between a 15 and 33 percent chance to win the division in the futures market.
More to the point, the Eagles might be the most unlikely 2-0 team in NFL history. They’re the first team that’s ever reached that record after trailing by double digits in the second half of both games.
Betting lines put the improbability of the undefeated start into greater focus.
Before prevailing 34-17 over the Jaguars in week 1, the Eagles trailed 17-0 at halftime and were a 9.5-point underdog in live betting for the game. Repeating its early struggles in an eventual 30-27 win against Indianapolis on Monday, Philadelphia was down 17-6 at halftime and available at plus-8 for the game.
Translating those point spreads to expected moneylines, plus-300 and plus-270 respectively, means Philadelphia had around just a 7 percent chance to come back and win both games.
Bettors apparently haven’t minded the Eagles’ first-half plights. In addition to their anointment at the top of the NFC East, Philadelphia is getting the bulk of the early action against Washington. The spread has risen to a full seven points at a couple of shops in town.
Philadelphia was only minus-4.5 in this game when CG Technologies opened full-season lines months ago. There are practical reasons beyond belief in Philadelphia for the line move, starting with Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III’s ankle injury.
Although some analysts have insisted replacement Kirk Cousins is the better quarterback, bookmakers aren’t sold. Before this season, Cousins had completed just 56 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns to 10 interceptions.
The Redskins had gone 1-6 straight up in games where he had played at least a half, though a less disastrous 3-4 against the spread.
But there’s no understating how well Cousins played in relief of Griffin last week. The Michigan State graduate completed 22 of 33 passes for 250 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions in Washington’s 41-10 battering of Jacksonville as 6-point favorites.
The whole team followed his lead. Washington’s defense held Jacksonville to less than 150 yards as star linebacker Ryan Kerrigan had four sacks to capture the NFL lead.
Before writing off the performance because of the competition, remember the Jaguars were the same team to take the Eagles to the brink of defeat. There was only one better single-game performance than Washington’s in week 2 throughout last year’s entire regular season, according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA.
That was when Philadelphia smashed Chicago 54-11 as 2.5-point favorites in week 16. It’s worth noting the Eagles had a major drop-off the following week, beating the Cowboys 24-22 to win the division but failing to eclipse the 7.5-point spread in a game in which they were out-gained.
Philadelphia was great against Washington last year, though. It won and covered in both meetings as fantasy football’s presumed greatest weapon, running back LeSean McCoy, totaled 339 yards combined rushing and receiving in the two games.
Trade acquisition Darren Sproles has almost equaled that production in the Eagles’ first two games in 2014, gaining 319 yards.
The Redskins will be out-manned at the skill positions. Although Alfred Morris ranks third in the NFL with 176 rushing yards, top targets Jordan Reed and DeSean Jackson are dealing with injuries.
Jackson vowed that he would play against his former team, but Reed won’t return for a few more weeks. Stretching beyond Griffin, Jackson and Reed, Washington is one of the most beat-up teams in the NFL with a lengthy injury report.
That’s another contributing factor for why the current minus-270 moneyline denotes a 71 percent chance of the Eagles improving to 3-0. The other two NFC East teams, the Cowboys and Giants, are in virtual pick ’ems against the Rams and Texans, respectively, with odds giving a 30 percent chance that both lose.
The Eagles have a good chance to tower over the rest of the division even more dramatically after Sunday.
Find full picks for week 3, listed in order of sports books’ rotation numbers, below.
Case Keefer (2012 champion, 2013 co-champion)
2014 Record: 8-4 (5-1 last week)
Redskins plus-6.5 at Eagles
Giants plus-2.5 vs. Texans
Titans plus-7 at Bengals
Jaguars plus-7 vs. Colts
49ers minus-3 at Cardinals
Steelers plus-3.5 at Panthers
Ray Brewer (2013 co-champion)
2014 Record: 7-5 (4-2 last week)
Chargers plus-2.5 at Bills
Cowboys minus-1 at Rams
Redskins vs. Eagles over 50
Ravens vs. Browns over 41.5
49ers minus-3 at Cardinals
Broncos plus-4.5 at Seahawks
2014 Record: 5-7 (2-4 last week)
Saints minus-10 vs. Vikings
Titans plus-7 at Bengals
Ravens minus-1.5 at Browns
Packers plus-2 at Lions
Seahawks minus-4.5 vs. Broncos
Bears plus-2.5 at Jets