Eagles Dream Turns Into a Nightmare Against Bills
Philadelphia Eagles -2.5
Buffalo Bills +2.5
At this point of the year, the Philadelphia Eagles must be wishing they had never been associated with the term “Dream Team.” Eagles’ backers and various football pundits latched onto the phrase as a seemingly easy way to describe the team’s talent and prospects going forward, especially once quarterback Michael Vick was signed to a lucrative long-term contract. Those hopes for the Eagles have been abruptly dashed, most recently at the hands of a less obviously talented but fiercely determined San Francisco 49ers squad. Given the hype (and lack of in the case of Buffalo) their records Philadelphia (1-3) and Buffalo (3-1) seem the opposite of what we would expect. However, it’s time for bettors to face the facts that things aren’t always what they are promised to be and at the current time the Buffalo Bills look to be in fine shape against the Eagles.
Looking at Buffalo’s improbable (at least to most NFL bettors) success this season we see that they have faced a full range of teams this season. The Bills were able to edge out the tough New England Patriots and mediocre Oakland Raiders at home, while falling recently to the defensively strong Cincinnati Bengals (20-23). Buffalo head coach Chan Gailey warned his players of the dangers in falling complacent after the emotionally charged win at home against the Patriots. Indeed, to most observers the Bills were largely flat for much of the first half against the Bengals and although they came close to continuing their success the Bengals prevailed. While a loss on the record sheet is rarely a good thing, I would think that the Bills can (and have) used this loss as a wakeup call for their season. Most NFL coaches would take a loss early on in the season that they can point to as a tangible result of being unprepared for any team. Coach Gailey will likely be wise enough to poke at his squad with the Bengals game to ensure that they get back to the hungry team that few people really gave much of a chance.
On the Philadelphia Eagles side of the matchup little real success has been created so far this season and far more troubling are the facts that QB Michael Vick’s injury list continues to grow along with the team frustrations. Starting the year with a win over the once promising St. Louis Rams (31-13), the Eagles have now lost three games in a row to rival Atlanta (31-35), New York Giants (16-29) and recently to San Francisco (23-24). Vick has repeatedly been harassed, sacked and injured to the point of leaving games in the hands of his backup Mike Kafka. While Vick had a very respectable 405 yards through the air and only one interception against San Francisco, the Eagles red zone success rate was absolutely dreadful as they converted only 2 of 7 attempts into touchdowns. The general feeling within the Eagles team and among many fans is that they have the ability but lack some quality to turn all of this potential into realized success.
While the Eagles continue to search for this elusive quality opponent teams are realizing that Vick has definitely lost a step from his prime and it is possible to either catch him with a sack or pressure him into a poor passing attempt. The two Eagles fumbles against San Francisco proved key and if you factor Vick out of the running game the Eagles managed only 33 yards. Added to the lack of real offensive success for the Eagles and a failure to protect Vick (or for him to protect himself) is the long list of defensive players listed as questionable due to injuries. Although Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is making headlines through the air, RB Fred Jackson continues to balance the offense with successful rushes.
Coming back to their home turf after a wakeup call in Cincinnati the Buffalo Bills will have a variety of options both on offense and defence against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Bills are looking to show their renewed commitment on Sunday, while the Eagles continue to hope for a dream that may never materialize.
Play: Buffalo Bills +2.5
Written by Greg Smith