Pederson is win away from delivering Philly first Super Bowl

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BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (AP) Doug Pederson is one win away from bringing Philadelphia the elusive Super Bowl title his mentor couldn’t deliver.

If the Eagles (15-3) beat New England (15-3) on Sunday, Pederson will hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy and Philadelphia will celebrate its first NFL title since beating Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers in 1960.

No one saw this coming two years ago.

After abruptly firing Chip Kelly, Eagles owner Jeffery Lurie longed for a coach more like the one he used to have: Andy Reid. Even though Reid failed to win the big game during his 14-year tenure in Philadelphia, he won more games than any coach in franchise history and led the Eagles to nine playoff appearances, five NFC title games and a Super Bowl loss to the Patriots.

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Reid also had a close relationship with Lurie, was well-liked by the players and instilled a family atmosphere. That culture was an important element for Lurie. The environment had changed under Kelly, who was 26-21 in three seasons. Though he was an innovative coach, Kelly didn’t connect well with all his players and members of the organization.

So Lurie went back to what he knew and hired Pederson, Reid’s protege.

Lurie was quite familiar with Pederson, who was a quarterback for Reid with the Eagles in 1999 and then an assistant coach on his staff in Philadelphia and Kansas City.

Other coaches had more impressive resumes, but Lurie liked Pederson’s intangibles.

“I spent a lot of time with players at the end of that (2015) season and I thought what was really needed was a kind of leadership that leads with a genuineness, a real genuineness,” Lurie said. “And people laughed when I used the term `emotional intelligence,’ but that’s probably a really good way to describe it.

“There’s a lot of great coaches. They all have their different styles, but the one common ground among them all is absolute consistency and genuineness. And Doug Pederson is just himself. And at times that’s very humble, and at times it’s just very real. At times that’s very bright. At times it’s tough. But he does it in a true, genuine way and I think players really respond to that in today’s world.”

Naturally, Pederson learned from Reid.

“Being around him, he’s the same day in and day out,” Pederson said. “Same consistency. Same work ethic.”

Like Reid, Pederson had his share of critics. He wasn’t the people’s choice in Philly when he got the job and ESPN ranked him the worst hire of his coaching class at the time. Three of the six other coaches already have been fired.

“I don’t pay any attention to that, quite honestly,” Pederson said. “I drive home at night knowing I put in a full day’s work. I get up in the morning to come in here, and however I can serve this organization and serve these players, that’s all I know. I love football. I love coaching football. I love teaching it. I love being around these guys, and I’m going to pour my life into these players. If it’s good enough, great, because that’s all I know I can do and I’ve given it my best effort. So I don’t care about what’s written.”

Pederson cares about his players, improving their game and making them better men off the field. He gets what they’re going through because he played, although mostly as a backup. They trust in him and his coaching philosophy.

“Coach Pederson is an unbelievable coach to play for,” said Nick Foles, who went from backup quarterback to hero of the NFC championship game. “He just has such a great feel for the game.”

Pederson’s steady demeanor and positive approach helped the team overcome numerous injuries to key players, including Carson Wentz, Jason Peters and Jordan Hicks.

Seeing their coach never waver gave guys confidence they can beat anyone. It helps that Pederson has devised masterful game plans. He outcoached Mike Zimmer in the NFC championship game as Foles picked apart the top-ranked defense en route to Philadelphia’s 38-7 win over Minnesota .

“I played for some amazing coaches, and Doug is an unbelievable play caller,” Foles said. “He does a great job of deciding when to call each thing, but our staff is unbelievable at game planning and putting us in position, no matter if it’s the run game, the pass game, the screen game, whatever it may be. The attention to detail is unbelievable and we go into a game feeling 100 percent confident because of our staff and the work and long hours that they put in to get the game plan to us so that we can go out and execute. That’s big for an athlete when you can go out there and trust everything.”

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Giants among odds favorites for final week of NFL preseason action

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Just like in those Super Bowls a few years back, the New York Giants have got the better of the New England Patriots in their preseason matchups.

The Giants are 2.5-point favorites on the NFL preseason odds against the Patriots with a 38.5-point total for their meeting on Thursday night at MetLife Stadium, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

It’s the 14th consecutive year they have concluded the preseason against each other and the Giants are 8-2 straight-up and 6-2-2 against the spread in their last 10 preseason meetings against the Patriots, according to the OddsShark NFL Database, with the total finishing UNDER in seven of those matchups.

Giants quarterback Eli Manning hasn’t played in the preseason finale since 2014, which could leave the duties to Davis Webb and Kyle Lauletta. For New England, it’s a near-certainty Tom Brady will be an onlooker, leaving the options to either career backup Brian Hoyer or third-stringer Danny Etling.

Elsewhere, the New York Jets are 1-point road favorites against the Philadelphia Eagles with a 34-point total. The Jets are 1-6 SU and 2-5 ATS in their last seven preseason road games. The Eagles are 3-0 SU and ATS in their last three preseason games against the Jets.

The Baltimore Ravens are 6.5-point favorites against the Washington Redskins with a 35-point total. The total has gone UNDER in seven of their last 10 preseason meetings, with the Ravens owning a record of 7-3 SU and 6-4 ATS.

The Cleveland Browns are 2.5-point road favorites against the Detroit Lions with a 35.5-point total. The total has gone UNDER in six of the Browns’ last seven preseason road games. The Lions are 5-1 ATS in their last six games as preseason home underdogs.

The New Orleans Saints are 5.5-point favorites against the Los Angeles Rams with a 34.5-point total. The Saints are 1-6 SU and ATS in their last seven preseason games as a favorite of 3.0 or more points, with the total finishing UNDER all seven times.

The Tennessee Titans are 1-point favorites against the Minnesota Vikings with a 36-point total. The Vikings are 4-2 ATS in their last six preseason road games. The total has gone OVER in six of the Titans’ last seven preseason home games.

The Houston Texans are 4-point betting favorites against the Dallas Cowboys with a 34.5-point total. The Cowboys are 0-9 SU and 3-6 ATS in their last nine preseason games as a road underdog. The Texans are 8-0 SU and 7-0-1 ATS in their last eight preseason games as a home favorite of at least 3.0 points.

The San Francisco 49ers are 3.5-point favorites against the Los Angeles Chargers with a 35.5-point total. The Chargers are 1-6 SU and 2-5 ATS in their last seven preseason games as a road underdog of 3.0 or more points. The 49ers are 8-0 SU and 6-1-1 ATS in their last eight preseason games against the Chargers.

And the Seattle Seahawks are 3-point favorites against the Oakland Raiders with a 34.5-point total. The Raiders are 1-11 SU and 2-10 ATS in their last 12 preseason games as a road underdog. The Seahawks are 10-2 SU and 11-1 ATS in their last 12 preseason games against the Raiders.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

NFL preseason odds: Cardinals road favorites at Cowboys for Sunday

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Indications that neither Dak Prescott nor Ezekiel Elliott will be exposed to injury while working behind a banged-up offensive line have made the Dallas Cowboys an underdog at home – and that’s proven to be a telling indicator in the preseason over the years.

The Arizona Cardinals are 1-point road favorites on the NFL preseason odds against the Cowboys with a 40.5-point total in a matchup on Sunday, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. It’s only the fifth time the Cardinals have been road favorites in the preseason in the last 25 seasons.

The Cowboys are 3-8 straight-up and 3-7-1 against the spread in their last 11 games as  home underdogs in the preseason, according to the OddsShark NFL Database, with the total going UNDER on seven of those last 11 occasions.

With center Travis Frederick (auto-immune disorder) and guard Zack Martin (knee) each out of the lineup, the Cowboys may follow suit with their quarterback and leading rusher. Rookie quarterback Josh Rosen (swollen thumb) might also be a game-time decision for Arizona, which is 7-3-2 ATS on the road in the preseason since 2013.

The Cleveland Browns are 3-point betting favorites against the Philadelphia Eagles with a 41-point total in a Thursday matchup. The Eagles are 3-8 SU and 4-7 ATS in their last 11 games as an underdog of 2.5 or more points in the preseason. The Browns are 2-5 both SU and ATS in their last seven preseason games as a home favorite, with the total finishing UNDER all seven times.

The New York Jets are 2.5-point favorites against the New York Giants with a 41.5-point total in a Friday matchup. The designated road team is 5-0 ATS in their last five games in this annual preseason matchup, with the total finishing OVER in four of those five games.

The Carolina Panthers are 1-point favorites against the New England Patriots with a 45.5-point total. The total has finished UNDER in five of the Patriots’ last eight preseason road games. The total has finished UNDER in four of the Panthers’ last six preseason home games.

The Minnesota Vikings are 3.5-point betting favorites against the Seattle Seahawks with a 40-point total. The Seahawks are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 preseason road games as the underdog.

The Chicago Bears are 2-point favorites against the Kansas City Chiefs with a 47-point total in a Saturday matchup. Since 2010, the Chiefs are 2-9 SU and 3-7-1 ATS in 11 preseason matchups as a road underdog, with the total going OVER eight times.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are 4-point favorites against the Tennessee Titans with a 45-point total. The Titans are 3-5 SU and ATS in their last eight preseason road games as the underdog. The Steelers are 0-6 ATS in their last six games as a home favorite of 3.0 or more points.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are 3-point favorites against the Atlanta Falcons with a 40-point total. The Falcons are 2-10 SU and 5-7 ATS in their last 12 preseason games as a road underdog. The total has gone OVER in six of the Jaguars’ last nine preseason games when they were favored at home.

And the Buffalo Bills are 1.5-point betting favorites against the Cincinnati Bengals with a 41.5-point total in a Sunday matchup. The total has gone UNDER in six of the Bengals’ last eight preseason games as a road underdog. The Bills are 3-7 SU and ATS in their last 10 preseason home games

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.