Friday, August 23, 2013

NFL Preseason Predictions 2013: Eagles vs Jaguars [UPDATED]

Philadelphia Eagles vs Jacksonville Jaguars: PHI -3 (5Dimes)

Market Watch

This game opened with the Eagles as field goal favorites, but it didn't take long until early money camepouring in on Philly. We are now seeing -3.25 across the board, but I expect more line movement here before kickoff.

Depending on what side you like, you can get a more favorable number thanks to the juice. If you like the Eagles (like I do), you can have -3 for -125. Want the Jags? You can get +3.5 for the same price. Even if this went to a full -3.5 (like some books have now), I'd still make this a play.  If it gets to -4, I'd have to take a pass.

Coaching/Motivation

Neither coach have a historical NFLX coaching pattern to look at, but it's clear that expectations for these organizations are drastically different this year. Everyone is 0-0, but "hope" is not really a word anyone in Jacksonville is using with a straight face for this year.

Quarterbacks

Gabbert is out, which leaves Jacksonville with bleak (or even bleaker) options at QB. Henne, Scott, and Kafka make up the rotation.

Last year Henne had some really strong games, but it eventually went downhill. His completion percentage plummeted and he threw too many interceptions. He had the third highest hit/sacked rate per pass attempt.

Scott is a run-pass threat, but dropped out of the draft due to size and durability issues. Kafka once excited fans in Philly for a time, but it's not the first time that they over-hyped a backup QB in that market. He was cut by the Patriots in favor of Tim Tebow. Enough said.

Mike Vick was named the starter for the season and is set to play the entire first half, maybe more. Nick Foles is a quality backup and should have favorable matchups in the second half.

What to watch for 

The Jags OL and DL are still big problems and they are badly outmatched in this area against Philly. Andre Branch has been a big disappointment this camp/preseason and they don't really have a reliable pass rush threat outside of Babin. Just 2 QB hits and 2 sacks, both of which came near the end of the game vs Jets.

The Jags have some promise in the secondary, but they are extremely young and have some growing pains ahead of them. How will they cope with this fast-break offense? Panthers defensive tackle Star Lotulelei admitted he got tired against the Eagles' offense.

Cecil Shorts will return and join Justin Blackmon on the outside. This is great news for Henne, but he won't have Lewis at tight end or Forsett behind MJD. For an offense sorely lacking in weapons, it's not good when half of your options are on the sidelines. MJD is only expected to play a quarter.

Herremans and Peters are returning to the offensive line. This should be a big strength for the Eagles this year and these guys will give them a big edge on the line of scrimmage.

Bottom Line

There are a lot of unknowns about the Eagles this year, but luckily for us they meet up with the lowly Jaguars on Saturday for the "dress rehearsal" game.

I don't like either of these defenses, but I'm not sure that's going to matter much in this one. With Philly's fast-break offense, there are sure to be some points on the board. This leaves us with the question of whether or not the Jags offense can keep up?

NFL Pick: PHI -3 (-125).