Either the Eagles or Minnesota Vikings will make a big statement Monday night about their prospects as an NFC title contender, with the two teams perceived pretty equally after strong Week 1 victories.
The Pennsylvania sportsbooks consistently had the Eagles as a 2.5-point favorite Monday morning for their 8:30 p.m. meeting at Lincoln Financial Field, an edge about equal to the amount of points you get just for being the home team. (It’s the later of two Monday Night Football clashes this week, with the Buffalo Bills a 10-point favorite at 7:15 p.m. over the Tennessee Titans.)
The Eagles and Vikings both have quarterbacks capable of big games but yet to earn wide respect across the NFL, both have running games that could be among the league’s best, and both have dynamic receivers who are certainly among the top wideouts in the league.
But the Vikings defense played a lot better against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in a 23-7 win last week than did the Eagles defense in yielding 35 points to the less feared Detroit Lions. That could be the difference if Philadelphia fails by night’s end to find itself 2-0 for the first time since 2016.
Hurts hopes to match season’s first game
The Eagles actually gained a measure of respect over the last few days from the oddsmakers, with the line generally shifting from 2 points to 2.5. Some sportsbooks are even applying extra vig to take the Eagles giving 2.5, so the best thing for a Philly backer is to get the regular -110 from either FanDuel, BetMGM, or Kambi-supplied sites such as BetRivers, Unibet, betPARX, and Barstool.
Caesars Sportsbook, meanwhile, was offering the best moneyline price on Philadelphia at -135, with FanDuel close behind at -136.
The over/under, while relatively high (the two teams scored 61 points combined last week), ticked down a notch over the last few days to either 50 or 50.5. Those betting the over would want to consider the 50 offered by DraftKings and Betway with no extra juice.
And because it’s a Monday night game getting special national attention, bettors will want to take a look for special boosts or other offers advertised by the online sportsbooks. For instance, FOX Bet was offering a boost to +500 (it says +400 would be normal) for both Jalen Hurts to rush for a TD and Josh Allen to do the same in the earlier game for the Bills.
Hurts was unquestionably dynamic in the season opener, throwing for 243 yards while running 17 times for 90 yards and a TD. Ten of his 18 pass completions (for 155 yards) were to new Eagle A.J. Brown, seeming to quickly justify the draft picks and new contract expended on him.
The big question — and one that could be highly entertaining for TV viewers — is how those two stack up Monday night compared to Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson under first-year Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell’s newly wide-open offense. Nine of Cousins’ 23 completions vs. the Packers ended up in Jefferson’s hands, for 184 yards and two TDs. (That would be the same Justin Jefferson whom the Eagles passed on in the 2020 draft to take the disappointing Jalen Reagor, himself now a Vike.)
“Every mock draft had me going to Philly. So when Philly was on the board, getting the phone call, and it being Minnesota, it was definitely a shocker. But I’m definitely happy, way happier, to be here than there”
-Justin Jefferson says he “can’t wait” for his first game at Linc pic.twitter.com/WLBxWrQaWo
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) September 17, 2022
Meanwhile, on the ground, Miles Sanders ran for 96 yards and a TD for the Eagles last week while Dalvin Cook gained 90 yards on 20 carries for Minnesota.
There’s thus potential for a lot of action that won’t have any late-night TV viewers across America — let alone those at the Linc — falling asleep in their chairs. And with the New York Giants already a surprising 2-0 in the NFC East, it would be nice if Philadelphia could match them to justify the improvement in futures odds they received from line shifts a week ago.
Photo: Jerry Harbraken/The News Journal