Prepare for a bumpy ride as the lowly Philadelphia Eagles host the even-lowlier Carolina Panthers on this week’s edition of Monday Night Football.
No doubt when the NFL’s top brass and network execs got together to schedule this season’s fixtures, nobody expected Philadelphia and Carolina to be quite as bad as they have been. And if they did, they probably worked for NBC, who last night broadcast the much more alluring Packers-Giants matchup.
For fans of Monday Night Football, it’s the second week in three that the ‘hallowed’ game has featured bottom-dwellers. The big difference between this game and Week 10’s Steelers-Chiefs game is that this one features two bottom-dwellers.
Alas, it’s only fair that all teams get their shot under the bright lights.
Battle at the Wrong End
After being heralded as a Super Bowl contender ahead of the season, Philadelphia (3-7, 2-3 home) began scored some scrappy victories, taking three from four to start this campaign. Ever since, the Eagles have struggled and are losers of six straight games, a record in the Andy Reid era.
Carolina (2-8, 1-3 road) also entered the season with high expectations, but losses in six of the first seven meant this season became an uphill battle before it even began.
This weekend’s battle will see Philadelphia take to the field without running back LeSean McCoy, who suffered a concussion in last week’s loss to Washington. Quarterback Michael Vick will also miss a second straight game after suffering a concussion against Dallas is Week 7.
Rookie Nick Foles will spell Vick again this week. Foles, after fans clambered for him, was a less than stellar 21/46 in his full debut last week against Washington, throwing for 204 yards and two interceptions. Foles’ solitary touchdown pass this season came against Dallas.
Looking for an Edge
The Eagles lead the all-time head-to-head series 5-2, and have won four of the last five, including three straight. Carolina has just one win in Philadelphia, a 14-3 victory in January 2004 that sent the Panthers to Super Bowl XXXVIII. Needless to say, neither team is headed for the Big Game this season.
Carolina opened as 2½-point favorites, thanks in no small part to Philadelphia’s six-game losing skid. Bettors are likely to avoid putting cash on the Eagles even at such a small margin; Philadelphia has compiled a 1-8-1 ATS record, the worst in the entire league. Carolina hasn’t fared much better, but 4-6-0 ATS is better. Philadelphia has lost its last four games by an average of 17 points.
The over/under is 41. The total has split evenly in Carolina games this season, going over five times and under five times. Only three Eagles games have gone over. Bettors should be wary of taking the over as these two sides both struggle to put points on the board, a category in which Carolina ranks 27th and Philadelphia ranks 31st (only Kansas City has been more futile offensively).
The safest bet therefore appears to be Carolina, but that’s hardly a safe bet.
And Now For a Bit of Fun…
If the thought of this ‘barnburner’ depresses you, here are a quick couple of props, direct from Bovada, to make you smile:
Carolina is 6/1 to be awarded the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft. The Panthers merely need to fall below Kansas City and Jacksonville and that dream can become a reality.
He’ll be happy pontificating on the game for ESPN from the broadcast booth, but Jon Gruden is actually 3/1 to be the head coach of one of these two sides at the start of next season. He’d probably do better to wait out the Dallas vacancy.