Preview and free pick for Bills at Eagles
The Philadelphia Eagles would seem to have every right to make the claim to being the best team in pro football. They certainly have the best record (9-1). And they have just registered back-to-back victories against two very formidable foes (Dallas and Kansas City).
But when handicapping games, BetOnline patrons have to ask themselves whether they are quite as good as that record. Maybe this is one of those situations - where they take on the Buffalo Bills at Lincoln Financial Field at 4:25 PM ET.
The Eagles have lost only to the New York Jets. But what's interesting is that if you took a look at a metric like DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average), which is a well-respected efficiency rating, the Eagles are no better than tenth overall. So perhaps the argument can be made that they are not such a dominant side, and that a regression to the mean would produce less profitable results.
Indeed, the Eagles have been pretty fortunate to have won these games against the Cowboys and Chiefs. In the Dallas game, they got some rather fortuitous breaks, including a couple of Cowboys touchdowns that had to be erased because they were inches short. And against Kansas City, they were dominated in the first half of play, then came back. But the game would have gone a different way had Marquez Valdes-Scantling not dropped a long Patrick Mahomes pass at the goal line with time running out.
The Eagles haven't necessarily gotten sidetracked with injuries, but their overall level of efficiency will catch up with them. And they may not be able to stop high-quality offenses on a consistent basis unless they can overwhelm QB's with their pass rush.
In the pro football odds that have been placed on this game by the people at BetOnline, the Eagles are the favorites:
Philadelphia Eagles -3 (-111)
Buffalo Bills +3 (-109)
Over 48.5 points -110
Under 48.5 points -110
Buffalo did not get off to a great start; they had expected to be facing Aaron Rodgers and the Jets. But Rodgers went down with an Achilles injury on the first series of downs, leaving New York with Zach Wilson. And the Jets compensated for Wilson's relative ineptitude by intercepting Josh Allen three times. So that was a winning opportunity wasted. There were very close losses to New England, Cincinnati and Denver. After ten games, they were dead even at 5-5, and there was a lot of frustration, particularly with the offense.
The general view was that the Bills were too bland and predictable on that side of the ball. So head coach Sean McDermott made the move to relieve offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey of his duties.
McDermott replaced him with Joe Brady, who was the quarterback coach and had formerly been the O-coordinator with the Carolina Panthers under Matt Rhule. But Brady has been most successful for what he was able to do as passing game coordinator at LSU, where he transformed Joe Burrow into a Heisman Trophy and national champion. Brady is young and has fresh ideas, which was what McDermott was looking for.
Brady turned Allen loose, and Josh responded with 275 yards passing. James Cook also had 73 yards on the ground against the Jets, who are known to have a pretty good defense. The Bills didn't look like a fuil-blown juggernaut, but they were less predictable.
With Cook (third in the league in rushing) as well as veteran Latavius Murray, the Bills can attack a strong Philly front enough to loosen things up for the passing game. And at the moment, the Eagles are not sporting a Super Bowl-level secondary, which has not been forcing turnovers (just four interceptions).
So the Bills are fully capable of pulling off the "upset" here.
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