Saturday, February 13, 2016

Eagles Open as 50-1 Longshots to Win Super Bowl LI

It is no big surprise to me that the Eagles have been opened as +5000 longshots to win next season's Super Bowl on Bovada's 2016 NFL futures. They are coming off a losing 7-9 run through the 2015 regular season and they now have an unproven entity in Doug Pederson running the show as the new head coach.

To help put things in better perspective, the New England Patriots are the current favorites on the board at +750 and the top team in the NFC East on this list is the Dallas Cowboys at +1600. I can easily understand how the Patriots are the early favorites, but I am completely perplexed how the Cowboys are seventh on this list ahead of teams such as Arizona (+1800) and Cincinnati (+2500). The last time I looked at the final 2015 standings the Cowboys had a grand total of four wins as the bottom feeder in the NFC East as compared to the Cardinals (13-3) and the Bengals (12-4) run to their respective division title. The New York Giants are the next division team on Bovada's Super Bowl LI futures list at +4000 and the reining NFC East Champion Washington Redskins have the exact same odds as Philadelphia (+5000).

To me, this is a perfect example of why the betting public continues to lose boatloads of money to the sportsbooks on a regular basis. They are infamous for placing wagers on perception and popularity which is the quickest way to drain a bankroll. The Oddsmakers are well aware of this fact and that is why they love to tempt these fools with betting odds that will eventually line the sportsbooks' pockets. The last time I looked, Dallas has won a grand total of two playoff games with Tony Romo as its starting quarterback and it is highly doubtful that the broken down and beaten 13-year vet has enough gas in the tank to make a run all the way to a Super Bowl title. Maybe team owner Jerry Jones lunks down a million dollars on his team with each the major sportsbooks just to drive the odds down.

Enough of another one of my typical Cowboys' rants; what about our beloved Birds? Pederson definitely has a tall task ahead of himself just to get this team back above .500 in 2016. Sam Bradford is a capable starter at quarterback and he could possibly flourish in a slower-paced offense that is built heavily on the running game. The one thing that the Eagles do have is a pair of solid running backs in DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews and new offensive coordinator Frank Reich would be wise to fully exploit the talents of both of these players if Pederson can first plug-up some obvious holes in their offensive line.

The Eagles have tied-up both of their tight ends with contract extensions for Zach Ertz and Brent Celek which is a good thing. The big question mark still lies with the viability of Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor as legitimate No.1 and No.2 NFL wide receivers. Both players have shown signs of having the necessary talent to fill these roles in the early stages of their pro career, but these signs were far and few between in 2015.

The next biggest strength of Philly after its running game is an opportunistic defense that was one of the best in the league this past season in takeaways. I am going to blame most of this unit's late season breakdowns on the simple fact that these guys were exhausted. Chip Kelly's offense was unable to sustain extended drives and the ridiculously fast pace of how he wanted to run plays eventually had a detrimental affect on his defense's ability to get off the field. I was never a big fan of Jim Schwartz as Detroit's head coach, but I do see him as a good choice as the Eagles'e new defensive coordinator. Shifting to a 4-3 alignment should make better use of the team's depth at defensive line.

The good news for us beleaguered Eagle fans is that the NFC East should once again be a wide-open race where eight or nine wins will be good enough to lay claim to the 2016 division title. The bad news is that none of these four teams have a prayer at even getting close to the NFC title game let alone Super Bowl LI.

By the way, the new Wizard of the West Coast heads into the offseason with his San Francisco 49ers set at the same +5000 betting odds to win Super Bowl LI as his old team. Game on Kelly!

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