Eagles Vs. Steelers Face Off In Battle Of NFL First-Place Teams

Written By Dave Bontempo on October 9, 2020Last Updated on October 11, 2020

The 1-2-1 Philadelphia Eagles invade the 3-0 Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday in what is, remarkably enough, a battle of first-place teams. The Eagles opened +7 at DraftKings Sportsbook.

And the NJ sports betting line briefly jumped to 7.5 at FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings earlier this week before dropping back to 7.

Here are five significant betting considerations and possible angles.

Shop the Eagles odds at NJ sportsbooks

Rodney Dangerfield, the late comedian, is in the house. The king of “no respect” summarizes the Eagles odds at the books.

The public backed the Steelers so heavily — more than 65% at DraftKings and FanDuel on Thursday — that the line moved. This is online shopping now.

The Eagles crept to + 7.5 at FanDuel, up from the original 7, early Thursday afternoon. Eagles bettors jumped on it. Late Thursday afternoon, it slid back to 7. But then it went up to 7.5 at DraftKings. Watch that spread; it could be an important half-point for an Eagles bettor.

If you liked the Eagles at +7, you love them at 7.5.  For those who believe they will win the game outright, the moneyline was +265 at DraftKings as of 9 a.m. EST.

Steelers bettors may want no part of -7.5. That means the Steelers need to win by at least a full touchdown and extra point, so -7 may be as far bettors are willing to go.

Consider the Johnny Avello analysis

Play NJ chatted with Johnny Avello, DraftKings race and sportsbook director, about how the Eagles-Steelers game could play out.

“This game could be real tightly played,” said Avello. “The Steelers can sometimes slow down the scoring in the second half or start slow in the first half. The biggest movement we saw before the line changed was a drop in the over-under from 47.5 to 44.5.

“That’s interesting itself because this year we are seeing higher scores than I’ve ever seen in doing this for 35 years.”

If the line is going up for Pittsburgh and the over-under is dropping, the public believes the Eagles can’t score. But Philadelphia might be able to tally enough to help the over 44.5 come in.

The Eagles have increased their scoring every week.

  • 17 versus the Washington Football Team in Week 1
  • 19 against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 2
  •  23 versus the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3
  • 25 against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 4

And the Birds’ first win of the season didn’t come until Sunday Night at the 49ers, 25-20. The bottom line is they are not a good offensive team, but not an awful one either.

Quarterback Carson Wentz has not played up to the $100 million-plus contract extension he signed last year. So far, he has thrown four touchdowns versus seven interceptions, which is bad. But he should not be benched yet in favor of second-round pick Jalen Hurts, as some have called for.

The team at least knows what they are getting with Wentz. The Eagles should use more swing passes out of the backfield, as they did during the Darren Sproles era. Passes that are short can be sweet in the NFL. Wentz is getting burned by passes in the 20- to 25-yard range, and he needs to improve.

Steelers play close to the vest

Look at the Pittsburgh production through NFL Week 4. They put up 26 points the New York Giants and Denver Broncos, and 28 versus the Houston Texans.

Pittsburgh was losing to the Texans before scoring late and covering.

What does all this mean for bettors?

Well, the Steelers are bringing quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who missed major time in 2019, back slowly. They haven’t been blowing teams out.

Pittsburgh is playing a conservative game and avoiding mistakes. The Steelers grind out victories and are 2-1 versus the spread, all of them close to the number. The seven points they’re getting against Philly is the most they have been favored by all year.

But here is the intangible to consider. The Steelers had an unexpected bye last week when their scheduled game against the Tennessee Titans was postponed until Oct. 25 after several Titans tested positive for COVID-19.

Will the Steelers be rested, or will their timing be off early?

A look at Eagles + Steelers prop bets

The Eagles to exceed 8.5 first-half points is -121 at DraftKings Sportsbook. The under is -115.

Philadelphia to score first is +132 and to tally the first TD is +130.

Here’s an interesting revelation to connect to the rest of your bets.

The Eagles to score at least two touchdowns is -200. That could bode well for the over, as the Steelers are expected to score well. And if the oddsmakers think the Eagles can score at least two TDs, how does +7 or +7.5 look?

So overall, DraftKings projects a score of something like Pittsburgh 26, Philadelphia 17. Do you agree?

Also, watch for enticing player-to-score props closer to game time, especially with Pittsburgh’s James Washington, James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster. A reasonable stab is Chase Claypool, an outright speedster who often gets one big target every game. He may get fewer scoring chances but will pay if he hits.

The Eagles have yielded five touchdowns to tight ends this year. That brings Pittsburgh’s Eric Ebron and Vance McDonald into the picture for anytime scorers. Watch for those offerings closer to kickoff.

Running back Miles Sanders and wide receiver Greg Ward could be logical Eagles scorers but may not draw a price.

NJ sports betting value in half-point

Want to give back a half-point and be paid for it?

If you take the Eagles at +6.5 and the over at 44.5, the payout at FanDuel is +300 for the over, +280 for the under.

On the Steelers side, you can actually get a full point, dropping the line to -6.5, and get +220 for the over. This is a novel concept because gamblers most often buy the points they want to avoid landing on the 3 or 7 number.

Now you can be the seller.

As a side note, the Steelers have won their last 13 games on the moneyline at Heinz Field against opponents with a losing record.

Photo by AP Photo/Susan Walsh
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Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo, a multiple national award-winning boxing commentator and writer, authors NFL betting columns for the Press of Atlantic City and others. He writes about all major sports in the booming legal New Jersey sports betting industry. Dave also hosts the Why Eagles Why podcast. Dave is a member of the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame and the Atlantic City International Boxing Hall of Fame.

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