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Friday, November 19, 2010

Week 11 NFL Predictions: Prime Time Edition

New York Giants vs Philadelphia Eagles: PHI -3
This is a game that I have been looking at all week long.  At first I suspected it could be a trap game.  We all know that PHI is not as good as they showed on Monday night and that the G-men are not as bad as they were vs DAL.  It is a divisional game and both sit at 6-3.  The public pounded PHI -3 early in the week and have continued to do so ever since.  PHI is also coming off a short week.  It has all the ingredients for an upset special.  However, after crunching the numbers and reading up on the teams during the week I feel confident to ride the wave and take the home favorites.

A lot of pundits discussed how to stop Mike Vick this week.  The general consensus seems to be to go back to what worked when he was in ATL.  Send pressure up the field in a slow rush to prevent him getting behind you and try to find ways to blitz one guy free.  The only problem with this is that Vick has no problem staying in the pocket and finding the open man.  A spy has proved useless because it takes a guy out of coverage and when Vick does decide to run he walks around the spy as if he were a pylon.  NY have a better defensive line and secondary than WSH, but can anyone stop the dynamic duo of Vick/D-Jax?  They are both freaks of nature athletically and seem to have a nice rapport.  Even if NY does commit their efforts to contain them, they still have to worry about Maclin, Avant, and McCoy.  Celek has been virtually phased out of the passing game because they've kept him in for extra protection, but Reid could activate him down the field at any point as well.  Vick has won all four games that he has completed and has dramatically improved the red zone/third down offense from last season.  Look for PHI to make a switch in the return game as well.  Calvin fumbled twice on Monday and Harrison might be the guy in that spot.

On the other side of the ball, NY's offense will have opportunities to score.  PHI rank dead last in red zone defense and take a lot of penalties.  Does this mean that it will be a shootout at the OK Corral?  That's not what I see happening.  Despite the red zone problems, PHI ranks 1st in the league in turnover differential and near the top in third down defense.  They also have a favorable matchup on the line of scrimmage.  NY have serious problems on the offensive line.  They could go into the game with a backup at the center, left guard, and left tackle position.  This isn't a formula for success going against one of the most aggressive blitzing teams in the NFL.  Sustaining drives could be a problem for NY because they are also without go-to receiver Steve Smith.  NY have an extensive third down package for him and they already rank in the lower half of the league on those critical downs.

I expected PHI to open up at more than -3 due to what the public saw in week 10, but the books have put out a pretty good line to jump on.  There are a couple other key factors when you consider this matchup. NY have been the more consistent team over the course of the season, but keep in mind who they have played.  PHI have much more impressive wins when you look at some of the opponents they have beat.  This team is for real and Andy Reid teams usually hit the accelerator in November/December.  PHI have also won four straight in this rivalry.  I'm guessing the line could go to -3.5 before game time as the public bet heavy on Friday-Sunday so you might have to buy a half point if you wait.  Prediction: Bank PHI -3.
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