October 20, 2018
Every week of the NFL season, we offer up five numbers to keep an eye on when the Eagles take the field. This week, the Eagles have a lot of positive vibes with extra rest following their impressive win over the Giants. This weekend against the Panthers we have a few projections for how things might go:
The Vegas over under is somewhere around 45 points which seems a little low. If the final is, say, 24-21, that would equal the number circulating in most sports books. If you add both team's points per game you get just over 46, and the combined points allowed per game are around 43. Which would make the under kind of an unexpectedly smart bet. As much as we'd love to see tons of offense in this game, the Panthers don't have much firepower in the pass game (more on that later) and the Eagles are missing their big play wide receivers as well as Jay Ajayi.
This is just about his season average on the ground so we will use it as our Week 7 measuring stick. Last year when these two teams faced, Newton amassed 71 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries — taking advantage of a weakness the Eagles have had in recent years. The Eagles, of course, won their game last year in Carolina despite his success scrambling. We expect him to have the same success this year.
Combined, the Eagles and Panthers have a single touchdown on special teams or defense (a fumble returned for a score by the Carolina). Last year the Birds had six return scores — so they are a bit behind so far in 2018. Turnovers have been an issue for Philly overall, they have just six this year, third worst in football and have a negative give/take plus/minus. The rule of large numbers would suggest there are some turnovers in this game. And one will go for a score.
Carolina has just one of these this year. Philly has given up five and has notoriously been soft against the pass attack. What happens when a dull passing defense goes against a dull passing attack? The beat up Eagles secondary could cough up at least one of these. Who could be the recipient of a Jalen Mills bite on a double move? We'll see Sunday.
McCaffery averages just over 20 touches a game but he's been inconsistent. Last week he had only eight carries and 15 touches overall, but in two games prior he had 30 and 23 touches respectively. The Eagles have gone up against the some of the fewest rushing attempts faced by any defense, as they've been extremely effective on the ground. This is a tough one, but it wouldn't be unrealistic to see McCaffery make 10-12 catches and run another 10-12 times, putting him over.
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