NFL picks, Week 15: Eagles shouldn’t miss beat – at least for now

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Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles looks to pass against the Los Angeles Rams during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017, in Los Angeles.
| Kelvin Kuo/AP

Carson Wentz’s ascent to MVP candidate has fueled the Eagles’ rise to Super Bowl contention. But there’s more to it than that.

The Eagles also have impressive balance that any team would envy. They’re third in the NFL in total offense and fourth in total defense. And they’re balanced in each phase. On offense, they are fourth in the NFL in rushing yards per carry and 10th in passing yards per attempt. On defense, the Eagles are fifth in rushing yards allowed per carry and fourth in passing yards allowed per play.

BEST BET

Eagles at Giants

Time: Noon. Line: Eagles by 7½. Total: 40½.

Records (overall/ATS): Eagles 11-2/10-3; Giants 2-11/5-8.

That all looks good on paper, but now we’ll see just what it really means. Wentz is out for the season after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in a 43-35 victory over the Rams last week. Nick Foles, a former sensation who led the NFL in passer rating in 2013 (119.2, 27 touchdowns, two interceptions) is Wentz’s replacement.

Eagles coach Doug Pederson, offensive coordinator Frank Reich and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo have rightfully received much of the credit for developing Wentz. But now they’ll really earn their money. Foles is four years removed from his magical run with the Eagles, but he shouldn’t be overwhelmed by the moment. In his only start since 2015, with the Chiefs against the Jaguars last year, he was good enough to win — 20-for-33 for 187 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions in a 19-14 victory.

If the Eagles are as good around Wentz as they’ve appeared to be, Foles should be good enough to get them the No. 1 seed in the NFC. All bets are off after that.

Mark Potash’s pick: Eagles 24, Giants 14.

Bears game pick

Bears at Lions

  • Time: 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Ch. 5, NFL.
  • Line: Lions by 5½. Total: 44.
  • Records (overall/ATS): Bears 4-9/6-6-1; Lions 7-6/6-6-1.
  • Outlook: Bears are motivated to finish strong after a convincing road victory over the Bengals. Mitch Trubisky/-Jordan Howard vs. a Lions defense that has allowed 398 ypg the last 5 weeks could make it very interesting.
  • Pick: Lions 23, Bears 20.

Top plays of Week 15

Texans atJaguars

  • Time: Noon.
  • Line: Jaguars by 11½. Total: 39.
  • Records (overall/ATS): Texans 4-9/7-6;Jaguars 9-4/8-5.
  • Outlook: Jaguars face the possibility of a letdown after a big victory with a contentious finish against the Seahawks last week. But coach Doug Marrone seems to have them focused, and their defense should respond vs. the Texans, who have lost 6 of 7.
  • Pick: Jaguars 28, Texans 10.

Titans at49ers

  • Time: 4:25 p.m.
  • Line: 49ers by 2.Total: 44.
  • Records (overall/ATS): Titans 8-5/5-7-1;49ers 3-10/7-6.
  • Outlook: Newcomer Jimmy Garoppolo has sparked the 49ers to victories over the Bears and Texans. This is a step up in class, but not a huge one. The Titans are the worst 8-5 team in football.
  • Pick: 49ers 23, Titans 17.

Falcons atBuccaneers

  • Time: 8:30 p.m. Monday, ESPN.
  • Line: Falcons by 6.
  • Total: 48.
  • Records (overall/ATS): Falcons 8-5/6-7;Buccaneers 4-9/3-9-1.
  • Outlook: Falcons can’t get caught looking ahead to showdowns with the Saints on the road and the Panthers at home. But this is a very winnable trap game against a Bucs team without Gerald McCoy, who suffered a biceps injury vs. the Lions.
  • Pick: Falcons 27, Bucs 13.

The rest of Week 15’s games

Chargers at Chiefs

  • Time: 7:25 p.m. Saturday, NFL.
  • Line: Chargers by 1. Total: 46.
  • Records (overall/ATS): Chargers 7-6/7-5-1; Chiefs 7-6/7-6.
  • Outlook: In October, the Chargers were 0-4/0-3-1, and the Chiefs were 4-0/-4-0. Chargers have won 7 of 9 since, losing only to the Patriots (10-3) and Jaguars (9-4). Chiefs get Marcus Peters back after 1-game suspension.
  • Pick: Chargers 31, Chiefs 28.

Ravens at Browns

  • Time: Noon.
  • Line: Ravens by 7. Total: 40.
  • Records (overall/ATS): Ravens 7-6/7-5-1; Browns 0-13/3-10.
  • Outlook: Browns and DeShone Kizer showing some signs of life in close losses to the Chargers and Packers. But the Ravens need a win to keep their playoff hopes alive.
  • Pick: Ravens 31, Browns 20.

Packers at Panthers

  • Time: Noon, Fox-32.
  • Line: Panthers by 3. Total: 47.
  • Records (overall/ATS): Packers 7-6/7-6; Panthers 9-4/8-5.
  • Outlook: Aaron Rodgers’ return is sure to give the Packers a boost, but unless he can play CB, it might not be enough against the Panthers on the road.
  • Pick: Panthers 24, Packers 20.

Bengals at Vikings

  • Time: Noon, Ch. 2.
  • Line: Vikings by 10½. Total: 42.
  • Records (overall/ATS): Bengals 5-8/7-6; Vikings 10-3/9-4.
  • Outlook: With their OL likely back at full strength, Vikings figure to bounce back from a loss to the Panthers last week. Bengals could rally for Marvin Lewis, but they’re in tough here.
  • Pick: Vikings 27, Bengals 13.

Jets at Saints

  • Time: Noon.
  • Line: Saints by 16. Total: 47½.
  • Records (overall/ATS): Jets 5-8/7-5-1; Saints 9-4/8-5.
  • Outlook: Bad timing for the Jets, who lost Josh McCown and face Saints coming off a tough loss vs. Falcons.
  • Pick: Saints 31, Jets 10.

Cardinals at Redskins

  • Time: Noon.
  • Line: Redskins by 4½. Total: 43.
  • Records (overall/ATS): Cardinals 6-7/4-8-1; Redskins 5-8/5-8.
  • Outlook: Cardinals are 0-5 SU/0-4-1 ATS after a victory this year.
  • Pick: Redskins 24, Cardinals 17.

Dolphins at Bills

  • Time: Noon.
  • Line: Bills by 3. Total: 39.
  • Records (overall/ATS): Dolphins 6-7/5-6-2; Bills 7-6/7-5-1.
  • Outlook: Tyrod Taylor is expected to start for the Bills. But when Jay Cutler is on one of his late-season rolls, all bets are off.
  • Pick: Bills 22, Dolphins 17.

Rams at Seahawks

  • Time: 3:05 p.m.
  • Line: Seahawks by 2½. Total: 47½.
  • Records (overall/ATS): Rams 9-4/8-5; Seahawks 8-5/5-7-1.
  • Outlook: Seahawks are sore losers, but they also are 4-0 SU/2-1-1 ATS after a loss this season.
  • Pick: Seahawks 27, Rams 24.

Patriots at Steelers

  • Time: 3:25 p.m., Ch. 2.
  • Line: Patriots by 3. Total: 53½.
  • Records (overall/ATS): Patriots 10-3/8-5; Steelers 11-2/6-7.
  • Outlook: This is the AFC Championship Game preview the Patriots lose before winning the real thing.
  • Pick: Steelers 21, Patriots 17.

Cowboys at Raiders

  • Time: 7:30 p.m., Ch. 5.
  • Line: Cowboys by 3. Total: 46.
  • Records (overall/ATS): Cowboys 7-6/7-6; Raiders 6-7/4-8-1.
  • Outlook: Sean Lee’s return last week (18 tackles, interception) gave the Cowboys’ defense the boost it has been looking for.
  • Pick: Cowboys 31, Raiders 21.
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