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NFL Sneak Peak – The Philadelphia Eagles

NFL Football Futures Betting – 2009 NFL PreSeason Analysis – Eagles Football Gambling

The Philadelphia Eagles once again got oh so close to the Super Bowl in the 2008 season, but lost in a thrilling NFC title game to the Arizona Cardinals. The Eagles’ 9-6-1 SU record was nothing sensational (though their 10-6 ATS mark was rock solid), but they got better toward the end, winning four of their last five games, including a 28-point win over Arizona and a 44-6 romp over Dallas.

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Then they scored double-digit victories over Minnesota and the Giants before the rematch with the Cardinals.

Do the Eagles deserve to be one of the favorites to go all the way?

Let’s take a look at the numbers:

Odds To Win NFC East

New York Giants +165
Dallas Cowboys +250
Washington Redskins +550

To Win Super Bowl: +1400
To Win NFC title: +600
To Reach Conference title game: +260
Over 9.5 Wins -150
Under 9.5 Wins +120

The Eagles have consistently been a contender; in fact, they have gone to the NFC title game in five of the last eight seasons. Last year’s finish was unquestionably a cause for optimism, and it was light years away from a two-game period earlier when the team fought to a listless tie with Cincinnati, then got blown away 36-7 by Baltimore the next week, in a game where Donovan McNabb was yanked from the lineup.

McNabb is again the mainstay, and he threw for over 3900 yards with 23 touchdowns and eleven interceptions, but he had his moments of ineffectiveness as well; his quarterback rating of 86.4 was lower than the likes of Shawn Hill and Seneca Wallace. Kevin Kolb will continue to wait in the wings, but even with a lot of schoolwork in this offense, the Eagles would not want to put the offense into inexperienced hands if they plan to contend for the Super Bowl.

Coach Andy Reid saw some potential weaknesses and took steps to address them. Brian Westbrook, who ran for 936 yards and played with injuries all season, may be a little too brittle to handle the grind of being such a workhorse, so a second-round pick was spent on LeSean McCoy, the running back from Pitt who has massive upside. The wide receiver corps, though bolstered by the presence of rookie DeSean Jackson (62 catches last year), needed a complement in order to get legitimately dangerous, and so Jeremy Maclin of Missouri, an all-purpose monster who was a threat every time he touched the ball in college, was the first-round draftee. McNabb needed better protection, so the Eagles made a deal with Buffalo to get left tackle Jason Peters, a two-time Pro Bowl participant.

They will also put free agent signee Stacy Andrews at the right tackle position, and wooed Leonard Weaver, an effective fullback, to move from Seattle. Weaver is primarily going to be used as a blocker, as is the case with most fullbacks, but he may also see some time as a ball carrier in short yardage situations.

Philadelphia’s defense was outstanding for the most part, and finished among the NFL’s top five in rushing yards allowed, passing yards allowed, points allowed and third-down efficiency. They have probably made net improvements in the off-season. They were very happy with the way Asante Samuel, another Pro Bowler, stepped in after coming as a free agent from New England. That move made Lito Sheppard unhappy, and Sheppard was shipped off to the Jets. Brian Dawkins left town for Denver, but at age 35 his future contributions are questionable at best. There are two new guys in the secondary – cornerback Ellis Hobbs, Samuel’s teammate with the Patriots, came in a trade, and Sean Jones, who makes a load of tackles (186 solo in last three seasons for Cleveland), is the new addition at free safety.

The Eagles have been very bad in the past at covering kicks, but there are aspects of the special teams that are very strong. One of them is David Akers, who has consistently been one of the league’s better kickers. Also, when you go down this roster, you see the likes of Hobbs, Jackson and Maclin, all of whom can be game-breaking return men.

Based on what Philadelphia was able to show when it really counted, and their obvious aggressiveness in player acquisition in the off-season, this is very much the team to beat in the NFC East, surpassing the Giants in my opinion, and presenting value at +210 to win the division in the BetUS odds. If it wasn’t for that horrible effort against Cincinnati, this team would have won ten games as well, so I am going to strongly favor the -150 price to go over the 9.5 win as it posted at BetUS. At 6/1 to reach the Super Bowl, they sure present more value than Dallas, New York or Minnesota at BetUS as well.

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