Eagles Face Grounding by Smothering Saints

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There is a feast of NFL action to get stuck into on Sunday with no less than 13 matches taking place!

New Orleans head coach Sean Payton

The New Orleans Saints have looked unstoppable in recent weeks and head to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday on the back of a nine-match winning run.

The Saints are on course to finish as the No.1 ranked side in the NFC with their defence having looked ferocious, while the offence has coped in the absence of quarterback Drew Brees.

They are strong 1/4 favourites to take care of business against the Eagles, who will hand rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts his first start. It is an ominous task that awaits the second round draft pick to be going up against this Saints defence, who have the capability to make it a day to forget for Hurts.

Hurts Locker Awaiting Jalen

New Orleans’ defence has really stepped up since the team lost Brees to a rib injury and made the decisive play in last week’s hard-fought 21-16 win over Atlanta. Without Brees, the offence has been efficient but hasn’t looked as potent with Taysom Hill having a combined 543 passing yards in his three starts as stand-in quarterback.

Hill hasn’t had to be brilliant though with the defence giving up an average of just 9.3 points per game in their last three outings. The defensive front is averaging four sacks per game over that same period, while the backs have helped New Orleans average at least one interception per game.

On paper then it looks like being a baptism of fire for Hurts, who is 25/29 to have under 206.5 passing yards. The 22-year-old made his NFL debut in last week’s 30-16 loss to the Green Bay Packers, replacing the embattled Carson Wentz.

Hurts threw for 109 yards, one touchdown and one interception while in the game, respectable numbers but ones that are unlikely to worry the Saints. The Eagles, who sit at 3-8-1 entering this game, have had issues protecting the quarterback all year and Hurts could be running for his life a lot come game time.

With little optimism of a strong offensive showing from the Eagles and the Saints covering the handicap in their last five games, taking New Orleans -8 at 50/53 makes sense.

Colts Hoping to Hit Vegas Jackpot

Two AFC playoff contenders meet on Sunday as the Las Vegas Raiders play host to the Indianapolis Colts with both looking to put poor Week 13 performances behind them. The Raiders nearly became the first team to lose to the New York Jets this season, only to escape with a final play touchdown, while the Colts were a fumbled snap away from defeat to the Houston Texans.

These two have found offence is the best form of defence, with respective quarterbacks Phillip Rivers and Derek Carr having performed well in recent weeks. Rivers and his Colts offence are averaging over 27 points per game and have had no issues putting up big numbers on the road.

The Raiders might not have been at their best against the Jets but they are averaging just under 27 points per game. Their offence could be missing a key piece though with running-back Josh Jacobs a doubt and even if he does play, he’s unlikely to be 100 per cent.

A strong running-game and a slightly better defence tips the balance of power towards the Colts, who are 2.5-point favourites at 50/51. The smarter choice here though could be taking over 52.5 total points at 50/53, with the over landing in a combined 15 out of 24 matches for these two teams.

Chiefs Can’t Shake Swarming Fins

The Kansas City Chiefs locked up the AFC West division title last time out and now have the No.1 seed in the Conference in their sights as they head to Miami to face the Dolphins.

Although they have won seven straight to move to 11-1, the reigning Super Bowl champions have a hard time putting teams away. They have failed to cover the handicap in their last four matches with the Denver Broncos playing them close last week, and +7.5 for Miami at 25/29 looks too big a handicap margin.

Dolphins head coach Brian Flores gave the Chiefs some problems when defensive coach of the New England Patriots and has the scheme to keep it close. The Fins have covered the handicap in nine of their 12 matches this year and can hang in there with Patrick Mahomes and co.

*All odds correct at time of writing

Chris is broadcast and written journalist with a wealth of experience, across a number of different sports. As well covering football on the radio, he is a regular online and print contributor on the likes of rugby union, American Football and Formula One.

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