The reigning Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles are still looking for consistency as they play host to the Carolina Panthers in Week 7. Kickoff is set for 1:00 EST on Sunday, October 21, at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. A majority of the country will be able to watch the game on Fox.
According to the Week 7 NFL odds, the Eagles are 4.5-point favorites at home. That line has increased slightly after the Eagles opened the week as 4-point favorites. The over/under for the game is set at 45 points.
After back-to-back losses, the Eagles were able to snap out of their early-season funk last week with a 34-13 win over the Giants. It was Philadelphia’s first game this season that wasn’t decided by less than a touchdown. The Eagles have found themselves in close games all season, but unlike last season, they haven’t always found a way to come out on top.
The good news is that the NFC East appears to be one of the weakest divisions in the NFL. At 3-3, the Eagles are only half a game behind Washington for the top spot in the division. That should give the Eagles plenty of opportunities to seize control of the NFC East. However, they’re about to embark on a difficult stretch that includes a trip to London next week, so they need to take advantage of being at home this week.
The Panthers, meanwhile, are trying to avoid losing to a team from the NFC East for the second straight week. Carolina lost to Washington 23-17 last week, as the Panthers dug a hole for themselves with three turnovers in the 1st half. The loss dropped the Panthers to 3-2 on the season, preventing them from pulling into a tie with the Saints for the top spot in the NFC South.
As it stands, the Panthers are a game behind New Orleans in the division. They are also about to start a difficult stretch of games that has them playing three playoff teams from last season in a four-week span. A loss this week would drop Carolina to 3-3 and potentially make them two games behind the Saints inside the NFC South, a deficit that could be tough to overcome.
It’s tough to eat more than a field goal in a game between two teams that went to the playoffs last year and may very well end up in the playoffs again this year. However, the Eagles looked outstanding last time out and have had a little extra time to prepare for this game. Plus, they’ll be at home against a Carolina team that’s 0-2 on the road this year. I’ll trust that the Eagles have turned a corner and will be able to cover the 4.5-point spread in this game.
Obviously, the key for Philadelphia is the play of quarterback Carson Wentz. The good news is that Wentz appears to be trending in the right direction. He’s thrown seven touchdowns and no interceptions over his last three games with his completion percentage increasing each subsequent week. With Jay Ajayi out for the season and the Eagles having to rely on Corey Clement and Wendell Smallwood in their backfield, there’s even more pressure on Wentz to carry the Philadelphia offense. But I think he’ll be up to the task.
On paper, the Carolina defense looks solid, but they’re giving up close to 27 points per game over their last four games. They have what looks like a talented front-7, but they aren’t stopping the run as well as they should be given their talent. The Panthers are also lacking a standout pass rusher who can wreak havoc on opposing teams. That could make it tough to take advantage of Philadelphia’s biggest weakness, which is their offensive line. The Eagles did a better job of protecting Wentz against a lackluster Giants pass rush last week and it made all the difference in the world.
On the flip side, the Panthers are still too reliant on running the ball. Cam Newton can make plays in the passing game when he has to, but not when he wants to. Most of the time, Carolina is looking for Newton and Christian McCaffrey to run the ball and hope that’s enough. They are also lacking consistency at the receiver spot outside of Devin Funchess. Rookie D.J. Moore has made some strides, but he also lost two fumbles last week. Tight end Greg Olsen returned from injury last week, but it’s obvious that he’s not 100% healthy.
Meanwhile, the Philadelphia defense has done a solid job defending the run this season. The Eagles are giving up less than 80 yards on the ground, so they should provide some resistance against the Carolina running game. Last week was the first time the Panthers failed to reach 100 yards rushing this year, and it’s no coincidence that they lost. If the Eagles can hold Carolina to less than 100 yards on the ground, the Panthers will have a narrow path to victory.
In the end, I trust the Eagles a little more than I trust the Panthers right now. I think Wentz and the Philadelphia offense will continue to make positive strides, especially at home. If the Eagles keep it rolling offensively, the Panthers will struggle to keep pace. That should allow the Eagles to cover the spread.