Instead of hurry up and wait, this was wait and hurry up. It took all of this past Sunday to establish that the Philadelphia Eagles will visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round of the NFL Playoffs this coming Sunday at 1 p.m.
And about 30 minutes after the Week 18 afternoon games were finished, NJ sportsbooks set the Eagles-Bucs playoff betting odds.
And it took just a few minutes to change them.
Right after DraftKings Sportsbook posted the Bucs-7, the line moved like it was shot from a cannon.
Quickly, it became 7.5. FanDuel Sportsbook then moved it to Tampa Bay -8. And the shopping began in earnest. When the clock struck midnight, DraftKings bettors had pumped that line up all the way to +9.5. That became +9 a couple of hours later, suggesting the betting range of this game had been found, barring any COVID-19 news.
New Jersey online sports bettors who seized the seven and took Tampa Bay may look like the “wise guys” when it’s over.
The Eagles are right in the middle of an innovative first-round playoff format, which spreads across three days.
NFL Playoff odds at NJ sportsbooks
NFL Playoffs weekend schedule
- Las Vegas Raiders at Cincinnati Bengals, 4:30 p.m
- New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills, 8:15 p.m.
- Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1 p.m
- San Francisco 49ers at Dallas Cowboys, 4:30 p.m
- Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs, 8:15 p.m.
- Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams, 8:15 p.m.
What NFL betting line movements revealed
The Green Bay Packers and Tennessee Titans received the respective NFC and AFC No. 1 seed and opening-round byes.
The first-round betting lines in both leagues reveal the perception of a big talent gap between the No. 2 and No. 7 seeds. Tampa Bay and the Eagles represented the NFC version of this sentiment.
In the AFC, the No. 2 seed Kansas City Chiefs opened with the biggest line of the weekend as a nearly two-touchdown pick against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Lines for the other games in both leagues were less volatile. That includes the NFC East champion Cowboys moving down from -3.5 to 3 against the Niners.
The line also is tight regarding the first-ever Monday night Wild Card game between the Cardinals and Rams.
The Bills opened as a medium-sized favorite against the Patriots and the Bengals were close to a one-touchdown chalk against the Raiders.
Eagles betting overview
The next game is Judgement Day regarding the talent level of the Philadelphia Eagles. No matter how you view this week’s Eagles’ odds, it’s had to ignore how far the franchise has come since last year. They greatly surpassed preseason expectations, improving to 9-8 from 4-11-1 last season.
All they have to do now is face the defending Super Bowl champions, on the road.
The Eagles rested their regulars and got pummeled 51-26 Saturday night by the Dallas Cowboys, who played their starters all the way and used the win to move up to the No. 3 seed.
Here are five significant points the Eagles can take forward from that game.
1. The Eagles learned the consequence of a weak pass rush
Dak Prescott threw for five touchdowns and gained several chunk plays at will over the middle. With no rush, it’s only going to be a matter of when, not if, Bucs quarterback Tom Brady torches Philadelphia.
The Eagles need to bring heat, if they are good enough to.
So how does this impacts the game?
Look for yardage props on Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski to be tested. Evans is the healthiest of the Bucs receivers and stepped into the next-man-up role in Tampa Bay’s 41-17 triumph over the Carolina Panthers Sunday.
Brady threw for 326 yards. Gronkowski collected 137 yards of them.
The Brady-Gronk connection is a nightmare for Eagles fans, but it may be a blessing for bettors.
Everyone remembers Super Bowl LII. Two second-half touchdowns by Gronk, 116 yards.
Because of injuries to Tampa Bay’s receiving corps, Gronkowski will be a big target.
Brady also loves to go to his backs, whether that’s Ke’Shawn Vaughn, a potentially-returning Leonard Fournette or others.
2. Eagles learned the price of bad clock management
A horrific sequence at the end of the first half essentially took them out of the Dallas game. Trailing 23-17 with 48 seconds left, the Eagles had a second down in their own territory. They sputtered in two plays, had a 22-yard punt and gave up a crushing touchdown with just five seconds left in the first half.
They will have better personnel in this week, but Saturday’s meltdown provided an example of how not to play in the final minute of a half. Especially against a quality team.
3. The need to run the ball more than ever
Philadelphia needs to steal one or two possessions against the Bucs to stay in the contest. The running game needs to chew up time, as well as yardage.
It was against the Bucs in Week 6 that the Eagles first flashed signs of a ground-game commitment. It was too little, too late in a 28-22 setback, but the team improved the rushing attack from there.
The Eagles, who now have the best running game in the league, have been churning out big yardage totals with interchangeable parts. Watch reports throughout the week about who will play.
It has been speculated that Miles Sanders will return for the Eagles, but that information must be reconfirmed late in the week
4. Hurts and Smith, the young stars, must step up
Teams make playoff adjustments. Tampa Bay may stack the line to negate the running game and try making the Eagles battle them through the air.
The Eagles brought top draft pick DeVonta Smith along slowly and now it‘s time to see if he can contribute an impact game, especially if the run gets established.
Quarterback Jalen Hurts will direct the run game first, but may have to make plays with his feet. The ability to scramble is the only thing Hurts does better than Brady. He scored three times in a victory over the New Orleans Saints.
5. Nick Sirianni has to guess right if he gambles
Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni rolled the dice too soon in the Eagles’ Week 17 victory over the Washington Football Team. He passed up a field goal on 4th down and ran a play that was stuffed when Philadelphia trailed 7-0. The Eagles soon fell behind 10-0.
He later gambled successfully via two fourth-down touchdown runs by Boston Scott that kept the Eagles in the game.
One thing Eagles backers would like to see: in goal-line situations, do a hard sell on the run into the line and hit a wide-open tight end in the end zone.
The better teams make that look easy.
AP Photo/Matt Slocum