NFL nut Kyle Robbins (@AhhYeahKyleYeah) shares his expert opinion on the best bets from Thursday night's action involving the Eagles and Panthers.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Carolina Panthers | Friday 13th October 2017, 01:25 | Sky Sports
Unlike last Thursday night’s drab match-up between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New England Patriots, this week we’re sure to be in for a much more thrilling encounter as the 4-1 Philadelphia Eagles head to the Bank of America Stadium to take on the 4-1 Carolina Panthers.
A lot will depend on the Eagles ability to rush the passer and put pressure on Cam Newton, who is showing signs of the 2015 MVP we all came to love.
Fletcher Cox practiced in full on Tuesday and the Eagles will certainly need him back to give the interior of their line a much needed push up front, allowing edge rushers Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham more space to get after Newton, who ranks seventh in sacks taken this season (15).
Pass heavy offences
Another key factor for Thursday evening, certainty for the Eagles, will be each team’s ability to throw the ball.
Despite, to this date, Philly ranking fifth in rushing (138.8 yards per-game), the Panthers boast one of the better front sevens in the league, allowing an average of just 79.8 YPG, and holding the likes of LeSean McCoy to just nine yards on 12 carries.
LeGarrette Blount may be averaging close to six yards per-carry, but do remember, he has faced-off against both the San Diego Chargers and New York Giants, who rank 32nd and 29th in rush defence. He’ll find this Panthers unit much tougher to gain yards against.
Which of course, leads me to believe the Eagles will be relying more on Carson Wentz throwing arm.
Reliance on Wentz
Give him credit, to this point, Wentz has been fantastic in leading the Eagles to a 4-1 record, throwing for 1,362 yards, along with 10 touchdown passes and just three interceptions.
He also leads one of the more balanced offensive teams in the league, but as the statistic shows, the Eagles throw the ball 60% of the time whilst on the road so far this year, compared to just 47% of the time when playing at home.
That’s a substantial difference. And it’s that factor that leads me to believe that any success Philly has Thursday night will be through the air.
Eagles suffer defensively
On the other hand, for the Eagles, defensively, they suck. Now they have faced some of the league’s better passers, but the Eagles still rank 29th in passing defence, allowing 283.2 YPG, and simply put, they’re pretty damn awful against the pass!
Off the back of throwing consecutive 300+ passing yard games for the first time since the opening two weeks of his rookie season (seven years ago), Cam Newton will no doubt be anticipating another big game.
And he has reason to be. Given the Eagles struggles and Newton’s high flying form, I’ll once again be looking for Devin Funchess to make an impact, and best priced 11/8 with William Hill to get into the end zone is certainly a price worth taking.
Points, points, points
It's clear to see that the Panthers have a better team, defensively than the Eagles, both up front and in the secondary. But that doesn’t lead me away from believing this game will go over in the points market.
The line has been set at 45.5 with most bookies, but maybe the value will be reaching just slightly above that and taking the 5/4 with SkyBet for over 48.5 total points.
Given both teams ability to put up points, I don’t think 48 is too much to ask. The Eagles currently rank sixth in scoring offence, averaging 27.4 points per-game, whilst the Panthers are averaging six points less, at 21 PPG.
Now you may say, ‘only 21 points on average isn’t great’, but they seem to of found their rhythm on offence the past two weeks. Cam finally looks to be back to 100% having had reconstructive shoulder surgery this past off-season.
Having only put up nine and 13 points on the Buffalo Bills and New Orleans Saints, the Panthers bounced back in style, posting 33 points against the Patriots, followed up by 27 in Detroit against a tough Lions defence.
They seem to be finding more ways to utilise rookie weapon Christian McCaffery in the passing game, and couple that with Devin Funchess and Kelvin Benjamin’s big play ability, plus the Eagles struggles against the pass, I like the Panthers to score over 25.5 points at 10/11 with SkyBet. But the better bet is Newton to stay hot, and gain over 249.5 passing yards at 10/11 with SkyBet.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Carolina Panthers – Devin Funchess anytime touchdown (11/8 William Hill)
Philadelphia Eagles @ Carolina Panthers – Over 48.5 Points (5/4 SkyBet)
Philadelphia Eagles @ Carolina Panthers – Cam Newton over 249.5 passing yards (10/11 SkyBet)