2002 Season NFL Football Past Picks
January 11, 2003
Atlanta at Philadelphia
Saturday 01/11 08:00 PM Eastern
4 units on Philadelphia -7.5 (-110) (risk 4 to return 7.64) RESULT: WIN
Atlanta sure did look good last week in Green Bay. Or was it that Green Bay just looked bad? It won’t matter this week. The Birds of the South are flying North for the winter and will find a less-than-warm welcome from the Birds of the North.
Philadelphia is flat out tough. They were the most impressive team this year, in my opinion. They are incredibly well-rounded. How else can you explain a team winning five of six (SU and ATS) after losing a player who accounted for 65% of his team’s offense?!? That’s like the Bulls winning 83% of their games after Jordan left.
Home field advantage really kicks in from here on-out. Why more so than in the Wildcard round? In the wildcard round, the home team gets no more rest than their opponent. They are just as banged up and tired as the visitors. And, they weren’t good enough to get a first-round bye. In the semi-finals, the home team is the cream of the crop – one of the four best in the entire league in the regular season! And, they have had an additional week of rest at the most critical of times.
Philadelphia is one of the worst places in the league to play. The weather is lousy, the stadium sucks and the fans are bastards (and proud of it!). Atlanta won on the road in Green Bay, but they won’t be able to duplicate that feat at Veterans Stadium. In its last three postseason games at the Vet, the Eagles have won by an average of 20.3 points.
Honestly, I am a bit nervous at having McNabb back for his first game. However, would I rather have AJ Feeley or Koy Detmer? Let’s see. Before his injury, McNabb was having a pro-bowl year with 2,289 yards passing, 460 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns in just 10 games. I’m glad McNabb is playing. He is cool and will be able to shake off any rust by the second series.
Besides, who needs offense when you have the Philly defense? Sure Michael Vick engineered an impressive road playoff victory last week. But this is not an average defense like Green Bay’s. This is the Philadelphia Eagles defense which had a league high 56 sacks! The last time Vick faced a defense like this, he was held to 125 yards passing with just one TD and an interception as the Falcons got pasted by Tampa Bay 34-10.
The Falcons lost six games this year. In each of those games, defenses found a way to control Michael Vick. Philadelphia will find a way. Philadelphia gave up only 15.1 points per game (versus nearly 20 for Atlanta). They held opponents to 6.1 yards per pass attempt (second only to Tampa Bay for teams still in the playoffs). And, they don’t give up big plays.
Teams that won their previous playoff games as a big underdog are 18% ATS in their next game.
The Eagles won 75% of their regular season games for a reason. They are probably Super Bowl-bound.
Michael Vick will win a Super Bowl but not this year. Philadelphia covers this spread easily.