Wayne Root: Can't Wait to see the Jets' Defense against the Eagles' Offense!
Even before the season began, I had my eye on the Week Three meeting between the "revolutionary" offense of the Philadelphia Eagles and the potentially dangerous defense of the NY Jets under new head coach Todd Bowles. This was shaping up as an epic battle!
*Philadelphia's offense impressed last season, though it didn't quite reach the heights that some had expected. In 2015, they had supposedly upgraded their skill position talent and were ready to take the world by storm. Many in Vegas considered them "third" favorite from the NFC to go to the Super Bowl behind Seattle and Green Bay. They were priced to start the new season like they were already a Super Bowl team (laying -3 at Atlanta and -7 vs. Dallas!).
*The NY Jets defense has been good for years thanks to prior head coach Rex Ryan. But, Ryan had worn out his welcome, and the hungrier Todd Bowles was coming in to make a statement. The offense was going to be a work in progress for awhile. The defense had a chance to be something special.
Two weeks into the season...only one of those storylines is playing out. The Jets have been terrific on defense...forcing 10 turnovers from Cleveland and Indianapolis on the way to a 2-0 start. Now...the defense probably isn't THAT good...because nobody in league history has maintained such an extreme pace. But, clearly, this is a unit that's going to stop people and take the ball away through the season.
The Eagles? What a disaster! Sam Bradford doesn't look at all comfortable in this offense. He's not quick on his feet, or a quick thinker. He's not somebody who's going to run for first downs when needed. In fact, all the negative things critics have been saying about Bradford through his NFL career seem to be most exposed in this offense. In three of the four halves Philadelphia has played, the offense has been a laughingstock. They did have a good second half down in Atlanta in what turned out to be a losing effort.
So...what's going to happen NOW?!
This could be a debacle for the Eagles. Remember that Atlanta and Dallas had lousy defenses last season...and the Eagles have looked pretty helpless against them. Now they have to face a great defense! And, if the Jets can maintain that "us against the world" mentality that has worked so well for many other recent defenses...this is a team that could storm to an 8-0 start before the laws of math start catching up with them.
So...what's the spread on NYJ's home field? Are the Jets laying -7...or -10? No...the Eagles are still being priced like a playoff team if not a Super Bowl team. The Jets are only -2. Since home field is usually worth three points, the "market" is saying that the Eagles are still the better team.
Are oddsmakers blind? Why have the Wise Guys bet this line to at least above a field goal? Some quick notes from THE KING OF LAS VEGAS about how handicapping a game like this really works.
*The Eagles are 0-2...and quality teams who drop their first two games have a strong market profile in the NFL. You saw that this past Thursday night with the Giants...who took advantage (to my dismay) of surprisingly ill-prepared and flat Washington in a 32-21 victory. Philadelphia may have some issues, but they won't be flat or distracted against the Jets.
*The Jets are 2-0 without showing much offensive explosiveness. If the team doesn't get great field position from turnovers, can they drive the field and score? New York's hot start has hinged entirely on forced turnovers...and that's the toughest thing to maintain in this league.
*The Jets have a short preparation week after playing Monday night. That was a statement victory on national television. It will be easy for NYJ to come in tired and overconfident here. They just won, and watched game film of the Eagles flailing against the Cowboys.
To me...this is a very volatile situation. If what's happened so far continues...then we have a virtual replay of New York's 31-10 and 20-7 victories in the first two weeks. Double digit covers. But, if those turnovers don't happen...and Bradford finally clicks against a flat opponent. Well, good luck asking Ryan Fitzpatrick to play catch up for you with this conservative offense. The Eagles might run away and hide.
I can't tell you here in my web article if I'm going to play this game for customers. My roots are in New York (I was born in Mt. Vernon as a true S.O.B., son of a butcher!) You can be sure I'll be working closely with my sources before making a final decision.
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