Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints (-8.5)
Sun. 1/13, 4:40 p.m. ET
Three things you need to know before betting on Eagles-Saints:
1. The Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs wraps up late Sunday afternoon when the Eagles and Saints meet in New Orleans. The top-seeded Saints were in line to be the NFL’s only 14-win team during the 2018 regular season before resting their starters for a meaningless season finale against Carolina. While the Saints come in having gone 3-2 straight up and 1-4 against the spread over their final five games of 2018, Philadelphia has six wins over its past seven games, the lone loss having been in overtime in Week 14 against a Dallas team that remains alive in the playoffs after having won eight of its past nine games. Philly’s defense has given up an average of fewer than 19 points per game since the team’s 48-7 loss in New Orleans on Nov. 18.
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2. The Eagles turned to Nick Foles in place of injured quarterback Carson Wentz for the regular season’s final three games and proceeded to score a total of 86 points in three consecutive wins, all of which Philadelphia needed to reach the postseason. On 11 pass attempts on third and fourth downs this past Sunday in Chicago, Foles completed eight passes for 79 yards and a touchdown without any interceptions. In his five postseason games dating back to last January, he has competed 77% of his 52 pass attempts on third and fourth downs for 522 yards, with six touchdowns, no interceptions and a remarkable 146.5 passer rating. Foles is now 10-2 in his dozen starts over the past two seasons. One of his two defeats came when he was pulled along with most of the rest of Philadelphia’s starters one quarter into a meaningless Week 17 game versus Dallas last year after the Eagles had already locked up the NFC’s top playoff seed.
3. The strength of the Saints defense is a front seven that allowed an average of only 80.2 rushing yards per game during the 2018 regular season, which ranked second only to Chicago’s 80.0. Since Doug Pederson took over as the Eagles’ head coach prior to the 2016 season, however, his teams have gone 9-2 straight up and 9-1-1 against the spread when facing an opponent that allows an average of 90 or fewer rushing yards per game. They’re 8-3 (both straight up and ATS) under Pederson when facing an opponent with a win percentage of at least .750, and they’ve also shown a tendency to stay hot once they get hot: Philadelphia is 11-5 ATS (12-4 straight up) under Pederson when coming off back-to-back straight-up victories, and the Eagles are 10-2 (both straight up and ATS) under Pederson when coming off back-to-back against-the-spread victories.
Pick: Philadelphia +8.5
Confidence Level: High (on a scale of Low/Moderate/High/Very High/Extremely High)