All the Philadelphia Eagles want for Christmas is the No. 1 seed in the NFC and they are in prime position to get it as they take on the (6-8) Oakland Raiders at home this Monday night (8.30pm ET Christmas Day).
It’s hard to believe given how poorly they have played as of late but the Raiders are actually still borderline alive in the AFC playoff race. At 6-8, the team is two games back of that final spot but they definitely need help. Winning out won’t be enough. Not to mention just how difficult it will be as the team faces a huge challenge in the playoff-bound Eagles.
Philadelphia spent most of the season on top of the NFL, emerging as a legitimate title contender for the first time in several years. The Eagles have been dominant both offensively and defensively and are in control of their own destiny. A win against Oakland would wrap up the top seed in the NFC, home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and a first round bye.
Nick Foles vs the Raiders
The Eagles’ title chances took a devastating blow when they took on the Los Angeles Rams two weeks ago. While the team won the game, what they lost was much greater, as MVP favorite and team leader, Carson Wentz, was lost to a torn ACL during the victory. That meant the franchise’s hope of their first Super Bowl rested on the shoulders of back-up Nick Foles.
Foles isn’t exactly the traditional NFL back-up quarterback as just a few years ago, he was actually the starter in Philadelphia and had a pretty good run at it. Foles became the everyday starter for the Eagles in 2013 and put together a 13-game resume that included a QB rating of 119.2 and a TD/Int ratio of 13.5 (27 touchdowns and just two interceptions), which stood as the best in NFL history until 2016.
For the 28-year-old out of Arizona, a large portion of this success came thanks to one game in particular that just so happened to be against the same team Foles will see this Christmas Day. Philadelphia won 49-20 over Oakland in a game where Foles was absolutely masterful. Torching the Raiders’ defense to the tune of seven touchdowns, again putting Foles in the NFL record books, the young QB also went 22-for-28 and threw for 406 yards. His performance earned him a perfect 158.3 passer rating.
This was Foles’ first and only career game against the Raiders and while he’s unlikely to catch lightning in a bottle twice, the newly minted starter in Philadelphia is coming off yet another top-notch performance. In his first start in the Kelly green since 2014, Foles picked up right where Wentz left off. He tossed four touchdowns, no interceptions, and had a completion percentage of 63.2. Foles looked confident and comfortable under center, which is exactly what Philadelphia is going to need if they hope to keep their championship chances alive.
Foles is a key component to this offense and he will have a great chance to continue his early success against the team which gave him a history-making performance four years ago. Foles will be going against a Raiders unit which in 2017, is tied for the fewest interceptions in the NFL with just four.
Is Philadelphia’s Defense Doomed?
If it’s been said once, it will be said again: defense wins championships. Right now, that’s a huge concern for the Eagles.
Throughout the first 12 weeks of the season, Philadelphia’s defense was among the best in the league and was certainly a squad to be feared. Lately, that unit seems to have been replaced with one that looks completely gassed. It has been a long season and it is possible that the effects are finally taking a toll on the Eagles’ once dominant defense.
Over the past three games, the Eagles have really struggled to limit the offensive production of their opponents. Coming off a two-game road stand on the West Coast did the team no favors. The Eagles allowed 24 points to the Seattle Seahawks’ in the team’s first loss in the last nine games, and then gave up 35 points to the Rams a week later. Their third road game took them to Met Life Stadium to play the New York Giants. Unlike the Seahawks and Rams, both teams in the thick of the playoff chase, the Giants should have been an easy win. Instead, the Eagles allowed their opponents 29 point and over 400 yards of total offense in an uncharacteristically bad outing.
It’s hard to tell if the Eagles’ defense is regressing or if they are just feeling the effects of a long season. Either way, this is not a Super Bowl winning defense, not even close. With Foles more than doing his part, the Philly defense will have to step up as well.
Fortunately, the team finds themselves in a favorable environment. Since allowing 24 points-plus in each of their last three, the Eagles have yet to play at Lincoln Financial Field, whose friendly confines have helped the team’s success all year. At home, the Eagles allow an average of just over 15 points per game. That’s why home field advantage, which can be won by the team if they are victorious on Monday night, is such a big deal.
No team has been able to defeat the Eagles at the Linc this year, and no team has even come close. In five of the team’s six home games, the Eagles have won by double digits. They are also averaging a league best 35 points at home. That is definitely something to keep in mind when considering our betting picks and predictions not just for this game, but the looming postseason.
Our Preview’s Oakland Raiders vs Philadelphia Eagles Picks & Betting Predictions
Before we get to our predictions and choose our picks from the USA sportsbooks’ betting odds, here are some stats to be aware of:
- Oakland is a disastrous 5-20 SU in their last 25 East Coast games.
- The Eagles are 5-0 ATS in their last five home games.
- The total has surpassed the over in all but two of the last 11 Christmas day/night games.
Entering this game, the Eagles may not look like the team of the early season but they are still a much better team than Oakland is right now. That makes the nine points they are favored seem less like the daunting task it could be. Couple Philadelphia’s excellent offense and dominant defense at home and there’s definitely a recipe for a great Christmas gift for the city. A win means the top seed and there is no reason to believe the Eagles won’t be able to get it.
- So our betting pick is to take Philadelphia to cover the lofty spread of -9pts @ best odds of -110 with Intertops or Bookmaker.
- Also, our prediction is that the total points for the game will top the 46.5 points that the bookies base their odds around. Go over 46.5 @best betting odds of -107 with BetOnline.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.