We love our underdogs, and so do punters. This year, it’s the Philadelphia Eagles’ turn to shock the world.
You couldn’t write a better script if you tried. From losing starting quarterback Carson Wentz to a season-ending knee injury to steamrolling the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship Game, Philadelphia Eagles fans have every right to climb lampposts ahead of what could be their first-ever Super Bowl victory.
Whenever the Super Bowl features the New England Patriots, which it normally does these days, the opposing team is often a serious underdog. No team has ever been as underestimated as the +7.0 underdog Arizona Cardinals in 2009, but even after Philly’s convincing clincher last Monday over the Vikings, the Eagles still found themselves as early +5.5 outsiders.
With the line currently set at +4.5 @ $1.92, things balanced out this week, but there’s something to be said about underdogs in the big dance. For the record, the head-to-head betting favourite has won 33 of the past 51 Super Bowl’s, but more importantly, the underdogs hold a 16-34 record with the Lombardi Trophy on the line. Sure, that number probably raises concern – especially against this Patriots dynasty – but history shows punters shouldn’t be scared to back the $2.70 Eagles this weekend.
Aside from how talented Philadelphia’s defence is, you don’t have to rewind very far to understand why the Eagles have a chance at taking down Goliath. Monday’s head-to-head odds are enticing, but some real money could also be made against the spread. Five of the past six Super Bowl underdogs have walked away with a ring, including the Patriots back in 2015.
There’s no doubt the Eagles’ margin at the line stands out against some of those smaller numbers, but bookies have certainly reacted throughout the week following New England’s close call against the Jaguars in the AFC Championship Game. It feels like a lifetime ago the Eagles came in at 50/1 odds as overall Super Bowl champions back in September, but for those select few punters that backed the birds from the beginning, there’s plenty more to feel confident about.
In the NFL’s 97-year history, the largest Super Bowl betting upset came in 1969 between the Baltimore Colts and the New York Jets. The Jets came in at a crazy +18 before walking away with a 16-7 victory in Super Bowl III, and although it’s now ancient history, there’s simply something to be said about cinderella stories on the grand stage.
So… How do the Eagles Pull it Off?
When Philly lost Carson Wentz to a torn ACL three weeks before the playoffs, their odds took a major dive. The Eagles moved from $6.50 out to $9.50 without their star quarterback, but after such a miraculous postseason run, there’s a reason why Philadephia has sold out of fake dog masks.
If the Eagles are to take down the Patriots, it’ll come down to one major factor: pass rush. Despite all his glory, Tom Brady has thrown a remarkable five interceptions in his seven Super Bowl appearances, including eight this season. The Eagles defence ranked top three in the league this year, and also held a red-hot Vikings offense to just three touchdowns and a pair of picks two week’s ago.
There’s also something to be said about Philadelphia’s rushing attack. It’s been a great cushion for Nick Foles when the opposing defence is bringing the heat, and we should see plenty of hand-offs on Monday like the one below.
— NFL (@NFL) January 22, 2018
The Patriots allowed 4.71 rushing yards per attempt during the regular season, the second most in the league. They also allowed four rushing touchdowns in the red zone, making LeGarrette Blount, once again, a player to watch. Philadelphia’s offense and play-calling has been creative all postseason, which could spell trouble for a Patriots team featuring one of their worst defences in years.
Backing the $2.70 Eagles as early as possible could be a bold yet clever move. We’ve seen the odds shift up and down since last week, and with Brady’s injured hand “not where he wants it to be”, jumping on the Eagles before they firm even further is smart.
For perhaps 75% of fans, there’s a strong hate for both of these franchises. Brady has lost two Super Bowl’s to Eli Manning throughout the years, so he’s no stranger to an underdog upset. Now we wait and see if Foles and the Eagles can make the third time their charm.