Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 1:00 PM EST. Odds subject to change.
Tampa Bay +5 -101 over Philadelphia
7:15 EST. Through two weeks, no team has phonier wins than the Philadelphia Eagles. In Week 1, the Patriots immediately coughed up 13 points before the first quarter ended - one by way of an interception touchdown, the other via a fumble on their own 26 yard line. The Eagles did the rest, coasting on a big lead and utilizing their elite-line play to stay ahead. In Week 2, the Vikings fumbled not once, not twice, but three different times to give Philly a short field. The most egregious fumble came after receiving the ball in the second half. A pedestrian Eagles' offense still barely capitalized on two early turnovers, but the third quarter gaffe set the Eagles up on their enemy's 7 yard line, leading to an easy touchdown and 20-7 lead. Ultimately it was too much for Minnesota to overcome, although they still covered as 6.5-point underdogs.
The Eagles are 2-0 because of luck and because of how dominant their offensive and defensive lines have played. Their run-game and pass rush have been particularly effective, but their luck is bound to run-out eventually. Their pass-game deserves speculation, too.
Jalen Hurts, who commanded one of the league's most potent passing attacks in 2022, has only gained 325 yards through the air in two games. The absence of last year's offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, now the coach of the Indianapolis Colts, seems to be making a detrimental impact on Hurts and his ability to see the field. Receivers aren't as open, he's taking more sacks (7 in two weeks), and there isn't the same fluidity we saw last season. With 11 days to work on their chemistry, maybe we see an offense more reminiscent of the one that torched the league last season. If not, the Eagles will need to rely on their formidable running attack to put themselves in scoring position (356 yards through two games). That's not an ideal game-plan tonight considering they're going up against a Tampa Bay defense that's only allowed 108 rushing yards and 3.3 yards per attempt through two games.
The Bucs are also a dangerous opponent for the Eagles because of the way their offense has looked. Baker Mayfield has reignited an operation that was one of the worst in the league last year, leading a passing attack that's top 10 in completion percentage, yards per pass, and pass yards per game through two contests. Baker has also been a spark plug for Tampa when they've needed it in big game situations, decoding opposing defenses and running for first downs while taking big-hits for his team. Losing the legendary Tom Brady, who didn't seem like himself as he navigated a divorce in his final season, felt like the final blow for a reeling Tampa Bay franchise in need of a refresh, but Baker and a defense that's earned a litany of top 10 marks through two weeks has given hope to Bucs-nation. They're also #1 in the NFL in turnover margin (+2.5).
By all standards, the Eagles should not be 5-point road chalk on Monday Night Football. The Bucs have been playing like a team with nothing to lose and it's paying dividends, while Philly is barely holding on and bound for the regression that hits nearly every Super Bowl loser the following season. This is a big game for the home team, who can start 3-0 and sit atop the NFC South with a win. The value on Tampa is obvious, and we'll keep betting against the Eagles as long as the market continues to overvalue a team that's won almost solely because of their opponent's mistakes.
Tampa Bay +5 -101 (Risking 2.02 units - To Win: 2.00)