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July 22, 2014

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Week 6 NFL picks against the spread for the Sun’s handicapping contest

Eagles the rare losing-record team the public can still get behind

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Philadelphia Eagles’ Nick Foles (9) stiff-arms New York Giants’ Mathias Kiwanuka (94) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013, in East Rutherford, N.J.

The drop-off from a starting quarterback to his backup would precipitate some of the largest line moves possible for many NFL teams.

Sun's NFL betting game of week 6

Which side would you take in Philadelphia at Tampa Bay?
Eagles -1.5 — 76.4%
Buccaneers +1.5 — 23.6%

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.

Jacksonville at Denver point spread

What’s the bet in the game with the biggest spread in NFL history?
Broncos minus-27.5 — 52%
Jaguars plus-27.5 — 48%

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.

For others, not so much. Las Vegas oddsmakers, for instance, see virtually no difference in the Philadelphia Eagles depending on who takes the snaps: Michael Vick or Nick Foles.

Before Vick had any health concerns and was the presumed starter, the LVH Superbook posted the Eagles as 1-point favorites over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a week ago in its Week 6 early lines. After Vick injured his hamstring Sunday to give way to Foles, the Superbook reopened the point spread at an identical Philadelphia minus-1.

Betting action has since driven up the number to 1.5 in favor of the Eagles.

While the largest point spread in NFL history hogs all the attention, the three sportswriters in the Sun’s handicapping contest have chosen to focus on the game with the shortest line of the week. All of them used one of their six weekly selections at the bottom of the page on a side in the game scheduled to kick off at 10 a.m. local time from Raymond James Stadium.

A matchup between two slumping teams — Tampa Bay is winless through four games while only covering the spread once, and Philadelphia is 2-3 both straight up and versus the number — at this point of the season would typically not be worth discussion.

But because of a mixture of the NFC East’s all-encompassing futility and the Eagles’ betting popularity, this is an exception.

Of the 15 NFL teams with losing records just past the quarter pole of the season, the Eagles are one of two that have seen their odds to win their division improve. The Superbook has Philadelphia at 2-to-1 to win the NFC East after it went off at 5-to-1 before the start of the season.

The Dallas Cowboys, the other 2-3 franchise with better odds than where they started, are a minus-110 favorite in what’s quickly turned out to be the NFL’s closest equivalent to college football’s Championship Subdivision.

Even though it’s nothing to take pride in, the Eagles control their own destiny in the NFC (L)east.

If Foles plays at the level he did last week, he won’t be the reason they fall from the top. In relief of Vick, Foles threw for 197 yards and two touchdowns on 16-for-25 passing.

A relatively close 16-7 lead over the New York Giants turned into a commanding 36-21 victory for Philadelphia as a 1-point underdog.

Foles had a similar completion rate, 65 percent, in six starts a year ago but went just 1-5 straight up and 2-4 against the spread after Vick went down with a concussion late in the season.

The offense made modest improvements overall, however, moving from 26th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA ratings under Vick to 25th behind Foles.

There’s less room for improvement in 2013, as Philadelphia ranks fifth in offense through five games, according to DVOA. It’s a shame these two Sunday opponents couldn’t combine rosters, keeping the Eagles offense and the Buccaneers defense.

The Tampadelphia Buccagles would make for a genuine Super Bowl contender.

Much like hiring coach Chip Kelly paid dividends for the Philadelphia offense, Tampa Bay’s offseason acquisitions have bolstered an already-solid defense. DVOA has Tampa Bay’s defense third in the league with cornerback Darrelle Revis and safety Dashon Goldson, both first-year Buccaneers, contributing to a near-shutdown secondary.

High draft picks from the past two years in safety Mark Barron, linebacker Lavonte David and cornerback Johnathan Bank also have excelled. The problem is with one of their peers, 2013 third-round pick Mike Glennon, who recently took over at quarterback for the deposed Josh Freeman.

Glennon wasted a dominant showing from the defense in his first NFL start, throwing two fourth-quarter interceptions to allow the Arizona Cardinals to pick up a 13-10 comeback victory.

Tampa Bay was a 2-point favorite in the game. The only time it was a home underdog this season, at plus-3, the Buccaneers covered in a 16-14 loss to the New Orleans Saints.

After hardships against the spread in recent years, home underdogs are off to a strong start in 2013. They’re 16-10 against the spread — 12-14 straight up — in 2013 with five more scheduled in Week 6.

There’s no chance of the Buccaneers flipping over to the favorite before kickoff. Despite the Eagles’ overall disappointing start, public bettors have regularly gotten behind them ever since Kelly captivated with his no-huddle offense in a 33-27 win over the Redskins on Monday Night Football in Week 1.

Check below for all of the Week 6 picks.

 

Ray Brewer

Record: 15-13-2 (3-3 last week)

Vikings minus-2.5 vs. Panthers

Eagles minus-1.5 at Buccaneers

Texans minus-7.5 vs. Rams

Browns plus-3 vs. Lions

Seahawks minus-13.5 vs. Titans

Chargers plus-1.5 vs. Colts

 

Taylor Bern

Record: 14-16 (3-3 last week)

Raiders plus-9 at Chiefs

Panthers plus-2.5 at Vikings

Steelers plus-2.5 at Jets

Eagles minus-1.5 at Buccaneers

Saints plus-2.5 at Patriots

Cowboys minus-5.5 vs. Redskins

 

Case Keefer (2012 champion)

Record: 13-17 (3-3 last week)

Panthers plus-2.5 at Vikings

Packers minus-3 at Ravens

Buccaneers plus-1.5 vs. Eagles

Titans plus-13.5 at Seahawks

Redskins plus-5.5 at Cowboys

Chargers plus-1.5 vs. Colts

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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