Eagles (0-0) at Patriots (0-0)
Spread: Patriots +4
Weather: Light showers possible
The spread for this contest has spent most of its time at New England Patriots +4, with occasional moves up to +4.5 and down to +3.5.
The total opened at 46.5 points and has gradually fallen to its current mark of 45 points.
Patriots Offense vs. Eagles Defense
Bill O’Brien’s return to New England likely will help quarterback Mac Jones get on track, but they have a tall task on opening day. The Philadelphia Eagles lost some talent this offseason, but they still have a premium front and a high-end cornerback group. The Patriots have a solid offensive line that will probably struggle against Philadelphia’s pass rush, especially on the outside.
New England’s wide receiver room is filled with middling veterans. Their “headliners,” DeVante Parker and JuJu Smith-Schuster, have injury concerns. Veteran tight ends Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki offer a combination of stability with at least some upside. New England’s tight end group is better than their wide receiver corps. All in all, it’s hard to see the Patriots’ passing attack having great success in this matchup unless it’s scheme-related.
On the ground, Philadelphia was generally a successful run defense in 2022, but they struggled against teams like Washington and Houston in that phase. New England’s backfield pairs Rhamondre Stevenson with veteran Ezekiel Elliot. As of this writing, those are the only two running backs the Patriots have on their depth chart. If New England’s offense exceeds expectations in this contest, it’s likely through their running back duo.
Eagles Offense vs. Patriots Defense
Jalen Hurts had a tremendous 2022 campaign. He might have won the MVP if he didn’t miss two late-season games because of a throwing shoulder injury. He’s supported by a top-five offensive line, a Patriots-style running back group and one of the league’s best collections of pass catchers. From a pure talent perspective, the Eagles’ offense still has an edge against most teams.
The Eagles also lost their offensive coordinator this offseason, and Bill Belichick has had all offseason to prepare for Philadelphia. New England allowed the ninth-most receiving yards to wide receivers last season. The Patriots struggled more against the slot than the perimeter. A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith play the overwhelming majority of their snaps on the boundary, though Brown’s ratio is more slot-friendly.
The Patriots allowed the sixth-fewest rushing yards and the 12th-most receiving yards to running backs last season. The Eagles have filled their running back room with players who have different skill sets, which is a Patriots hallmark. D’Andre Swift is a dynamic athlete and a weapon in the passing game. He’s likely the most talented back of the group. Rashaad Penny is more of a traditional in-between-the-tackles grinder back. Kenneth Gainwell is the incumbent who could conceivably fill in for either Swift or Penny. Boston Scott is an explosive scat back that can make an impact in short bursts. Given Belichick’s history, it would make sense to take his chances with the Eagles running back room from a macro perspective.
Belichick knows what the Eagles do well. We’ve gotten to the point where his masterful, opponent-specific game plans are almost taken for granted.
What You’re Betting On
If you are betting on New England, you are primarily betting on Belichick to frustrate Hurts. The best head coach of all time will likely succeed, as he often does in these areas. If you’re betting on the Patriots, keeping the Eagles around 20 points is your expectation. On the other side, you need a clean performance from Jones while New England’s running game exceeds expectations. That’s collectively the clearest path to a Patriots cover or outright victory.
If you’re betting on the Eagles, you are primarily betting on talent prevailing. Every game is on the quarterback, but in this one, Hurts has to play a stable football game against Belichick’s defense. Belichick has a long-standing history of limiting high-caliber quarterbacks, but his defenses have struggled against some mobile ones like Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson.
Another angle, perhaps a stronger one, for an Eagles wager is that it’s a direct bet against Jones. The Eagles’ secondary and defensive front has a talent advantage on New England. If Philadelphia wins with distance, their defense likely has a strong showing.
Score Prediction: Eagles 23, Patriots 20
Ryan’s Recent Betting Record
ATS 2021: 49-31
ATS 2022: 48-32
Props 2022: 60-40
Ryan Reynolds is the associate director of fantasy and betting at The 33rd Team. He has watched every snap of every NFL game since 2014 and has been covering NFL betting markets for five years. Follow Ryan @RyanReynoldsNFL on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.