The end of the Eagles’ regular season could have been worse, I suppose. I could have been sitting on a betting slip for over 11.5 wins for this mess of a team.
Seriously, imagine the heartbreak for those poor over bettors. The Birds were 10-1 through 11 weeks. Sure, they got lucky and pulled a few of those wins out of their pushed tushes, particularly the Chiefs and Bills games that marked their last two victories before their collapse began.
But still, they were 10-1! To hit the over, they just needed go 2-4 or better, with two games remaining against the Giants and one against the Cardinals.
They seemed on track for the NFC’s no. 1 seed, the first-round bye, and a record of about 14-3. Maybe, if they stumbled a bit, 13-4, the NFC East title, and the second seed. It was hard to see how they’d only get to 12-5. And it was all but impossible for them not to get to 12 wins and hit that over on their preseason win total.
Those poor over-11.5 bettors. Blowout road losses to Dallas and San Francisco were understandable — predictable, even. But then the Eagles fell apart late in a game in Seattle in which they led all the way. They almost did the same at home against the Giants, but held on for their lone win since November. Thanks to a series of pathetic coaching decisions, they lost in unfathomable fashion to a playing-for-pride Arizona team. And then their starters fell behind 24-0 against Giants — A.J. Brown and Jalen Hurts both getting injured in the process — before the backups took over.
So, under 11.5 victories proved the winning side, somehow. Over bettors must hate this team.
And I, too, after having spent more than 40 years rooting for the Eagles, kinda hate this team.
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Field goal faves on the road, somehow
I’ve never been in this situation before, seeing my squad reach the playoffs and being torn on whether I want to see them advance or just want to see them/me put out of our misery.
The Eagles are favored on all the sports betting apps on the road Monday night against the NFC South champion Buccaneers. I can’t wrap my head around this Philly team being favored against anyone but the Bishop Sycamore JV team right now (you’re damned right I’m recycling jokes; if the Eagles are half-assing it, why shouldn’t I?).
But I guess I get it, in that the Bucs went just 9-8, looked awful in splitting their last two games and scoring just 9 points and no touchdowns against Carolina in their finale, and are rolling out a badly banged up QB in Baker Mayfield.
This Eagles team shouldn’t be favored against anyone, but the same could be said of this Bucs team.
So the Birds opened as a small favorite and, as of Monday morning, sat at -3 (+100) at bet365, BetMGM, Caesars, ESPN BET, and BetRivers, while FanDuel and DraftKings both had them -2.5 (-120). On the moneyline, the Eagles ranged from -148 at DraftKings to -160 at Fanatics Sportsbook.
Under normal circumstances, where I felt shaky about my team’s prospects but still enjoyed watching them play and wanted to see them advance (to outlast the hated Cowboys, if nothing else), the door would be wide open for an “emotional hedge” bet on the Tampa Bay moneyline. It pays as much as +130. That’s a nice price for a financial reward to soothe the pain of defeat.
But I’m not all-in on one side, emotionally. I can’t say how hard I’m rooting for these Eagles. The offense has been frequently unwatchable — and that figures not to improve with Brown out with a knee sprain Monday. As for the defense, well, the braintrust thought Matt Patricia was the answer to its problems. That tells you all you need to know about how deep those problems run.
The last six weeks of watching this team have been unpleasant, ratcheting up to truly painful the last two. There would be some mental-health upside to the Eagles’ season ending in Tampa and their offseason getting underway with no illusions about the need to make certain changes and upgrades.
Then again, it was just one year ago that the Eagles came possibly within one penalty flag of winning the Super Bowl. And the Chiefs’ win over the Dolphins on Saturday night was a reminder that, if a team has postseason pedigree, you can’t discount the possibility of it making another run. (Seriously, as lost as Kansas City looked most of the season, would you now be shocked to see them playing in the Super Bowl in Las Vegas?)
And with the Cowboys losing to the Packers on Sunday, suddenly there’s a path. Maybe not for the Eagles team we’ve seen the last six weeks, but for the one that prevailed in 10 of its first 11 games? Green Bay’s win means the Eagles-Bucs winner doesn’t have to play San Francisco next week. The winner will go to Detroit instead, which is great news for Lions fans. But it also offers a glimmer of hope for Eagles or Bucs fans.
The Eagles’ odds to win the Super Bowl shifted noticeably just because the Cowboys lost. The movement was most pronounced at BetMGM, where they were +1800 to open the playoffs and went to +1400 as of Monday morning.
Neither price is remotely attractive if you’ve watched this team in December or January, but it’s clear the sportsbook operators aren’t ready to count them out.
And to win the NFC, the Eagles’ price is now as low as +600. At kickoff of Sunday’s Lions-Rams game, the Lions and Eagles were co-second-choices to win the conference, behind the 49ers, at FanDuel. That’s ridiculous, to put the same price on this disaster of an Eagles team as the bookmakers were putting on the top-to-bottom competent Lions, but squint hard enough and you can almost start to see a way the Eagles get back to the Super Bowl.
Maybe the Packers can ride their momentum past San Francisco. Then the Eagles could host the NFC Championship game. All they need to do is beat the Bucs and Lions first.
A true fan never stops believing.
A longtime fan of any team also never stops believing the bottom will fall out. Only one team gets to the win the title. Watching sports conditions you to expect disappointment.
And attempting to sit through Eagles games lately — especially the last two weeks — has conditioned me to expect to feel frustration, then anger, then nausea … and eventually ambivalence.
Can I really place an emotional hedge bet if I’m coming in with mixed emotions? Is there such thing as a “mixed-emotional hedge” bet? Would that involve betting both sides and paying the vig as punishment for being both an Eagles fan and a sports bettor?
As of this writing, the only bet I’ve placed on this game was on a Hurts anytime TD at ESPN BET several days ago at -118 odds. (The line is now -120. So, you know, #value.)
Will I place more bets? Will I mixed-emotionally hedge? Will I wait for the game to start and see where my heart is leading me and attempt the novel mixed-emotional in-game hedge bet?
I’m torn between the classic “Go Birds” and the disgusted “Go home, Birds.” While I figure that out … go Bills. I’m sitting on a +2200 Niners-over-Bills Super Bowl ticket, after all.