NFC East Week 17 Bettor’s Playbook: Eagles Suddenly Control NFL Playoff Destiny

Written By Dave Bontempo on December 27, 2021 - Last Updated on January 4, 2022

The Philadelphia Eagles have graduated. For the first time all season, their relevance extends beyond the NFC East and the regional interest of New Jersey online sports bettors.

For the first time all year, they are in the playoffs, if the postseason began now.

Two weeks from the finish line, they are surging at 8-7. They visit the Washington Football Team this week with a purpose and as a heavy betting favorite across the major sportsbooks.

The Birds, in fact, will be favored for the sixth week in a row, a mark reserved for an elite team.  Find someone who would have predicted that at the start of this season.

Bettors who took the “over” on the Eagles 6.5-win total at most books before the first game? That was an excellent wager.

Two-thirds of an Eagles dream scenario projected here last week, finishing against teams with dead hands, have played out.

They dumped the rudderless New York Giants 34-10 Sunday to become 8-7. They now invade Washington, officially bumped from the playoffs with Sunday’s 56-14 blowout loss in Dallas. This makes two straight Eagles opponents with nothing to play for.

The Eagles will finish at home against the Dallas Cowboys at the Linc Jan. 9. Developments within the NFC will determine what type of game that means for the Cowboys, so let’s bring in the entire NFC playoff picture.

NFC playoff  picture

If the NFL Playoffs started today, here is how the teams would stack up:

  • 1. Green Bay Packers, 12-3, clinched NFC North
  • 2. Los Angeles Rams, 11-4, first in NFC West
  • 3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 11-4, clinched NFC South
  • 4. Dallas Cowboys, 11-5, clinched NFC East
  • 5. Arizona Cardinals, 10-5, second in NFC West
  • 6. San Francisco 49ers, 8-7. Third in NFC West
  • 7. Philadelphia Eagles, 8-7, second in NFC East

The top seed draws a first-round playoff bye. The remaining six meet in the first round of the playoffs. Division winners make up the next three seeds and will host the three wild card teams.

The first round whittles the NFC field down to four. Another round of games brings the field to two and the surviving teams then compete to be the NFC Super Bowl representative.

Suddenly in Philadelphia, this matters.

NFC teams on the outside looking in

New Orleans Saints are 7-7 heading into Monday night’s game against the Miami Dolphins. The Eagles have a tie-break advantage by beating the Saints this year, if applicable.

The Minnesota Vikings are  7-8.

The Atlanta Falcons are 7-8. The Eagles have a tiebreak edge against them too because of their season-opening victory in Atlanta, if applicable.

Tiebreaking formulas are complicated. If the Eagles win out, they won’t need one.

Remaining schedules for NFC playoff contenders

The Niners host the Houston Texans and visit the Rams. If betting odds prevail, they would lose one game.

The Vikings visit the Green Bay Packers as an underdog this week. We projected here last week that the Vikings could lose two of the final three games if betting odds prevailed. One loss came Sunday, 30-23 against the favored Rams.

They will be the underdog again while visiting the Packers on Sunday. An Eagles win and a Vikings loss knocks Minnesota out of the picture.

The Vikings did defeat the Packers earlier this year. They finish by hosting the Chicago Bears.

Scoreboard watching has unfolded like a holiday wish list

When the Eagles need help, they are getting it.

The Cowboys have stepped in to defeat the Washington Football team. Twice. Coupled with Philadelphia’s victory over Washington last week, the Cowboys helped the Eagles knock Washington into next season.

Sunday, the Eagles needed help from the Los Angeles Rams, and they got it with a win over the Vikings. That enabled the Eagles to shoot past Minnesota into the final playoff berth.

They needed the Tennessee Titans to help by defeating the San Francisco 49ers last Thursday night. The Titans did, 20-17, dropping San Francisco into the sixth position. The Niners have the same record as the Eagles and a tie-break by virtue of a Week 2 victory at the Linc, if applicable. That’s probably the only team the Eagles still have a chance to catch.

Loadingup on big second halves by the Eagles

You wouldn’t expect this three weeks in a row but it has occurred twice. The Eagles were tied with both Washington and the Giants at halftime in Weeks 15 and 16. They blew each team out in the second half.

Odds vary on this possibility throughout the books and differs by game. But the Week 16 Saints-Dolphins game at DraftKings Sportsbook had a halftime tie and a New Orleans victory at +1900 and a tie followed by a Dolphins triumph at +1500.

The Eagles have not been sharp in the first half the last two weeks. The Eagles odds on a Washington-Philadelphia first half-second-half split or a halftime tie followed by the Eagles winning the second half could pay well.

The sign of betting respect

The Eagles received betting support at DraftKings against the Giants, with 73% of its gamblers backing them at -10.5

The Eagles-Giants game was the fifth most-heavily bet, with the Buffalo BillsNew England Patriots at number one.

The Eagles have been rewarding bettors as the favorites, delivering a 4-1 mark in their chalk run They covered against New Orleans, the New York Jets, Washington and the New York Giants.  In one week, they covered 9.5 against Washington and 10.5 against the Giants.

They stubbed their toe against the Giants in their last loss, 13-7 in Week 12.

NFC East watch: next man up in Eagles’ backfield

Miles Sanders thinks he has a fractured hand. He missed the second half of the game against the Giants. But the Eagles do have depth in this spot.

Jordan Howard is back, Kenneth Gainwell is competent and Boston Scott, who scored again versus the Giants, performs well when asked.

Miscellaneous: Did you notice the further review of the further review for DeVonta Smith’s third-quarter touchdown reception?

It was ruled a TD on the field, overturned on review and then called a touchdown a second time after further analysis. It’s hard to remember the NFL reversing itself.

And how about this?

Both Carson Wentz with the Indianapolis Colts and Jalen Hurts with the Eagles are piloting playoff teams. Right now, the Wentz trade has worked out for both sides.

NFC East betting results through NFL Week 16

Here’s our weekly look at the NFC East and its matchups.

Philadelphia:

  • 8-7   on the moneyline
  • 9-6  versus spread
  • 9-6   on the over
  • Next up: At Washington

New York Giants:

  • 4-11  on the moneyine
  • 6-9  versus spread
  • 5 -9 -1 on the over
  • Next Up: At Chicago

Dallas:

  • 11-4 on the moneyline
  • 12 -3 versus spread
  • 8-7 on the over
    Next up: vs. Arizona Cardinals

Washington:

  • 6-9 on the moneyline
  • 5 -10 versus spread
  • 7-9 on the over
  • Next up: vs Eagles

AP Photo/Corey Sipkin

 

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Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo, a multiple national award-winning boxing commentator and writer, authors NFL betting columns for the Press of Atlantic City and others. He writes about all major sports in the booming legal New Jersey sports betting industry. Dave also hosts the Why Eagles Why podcast. Dave is a member of the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame and the Atlantic City International Boxing Hall of Fame.

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