Fletcher Cox

Sunday Night Football odds: Eagles laying touchdown against Cowboys

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The fact that the Philadelphia Eagles are coming off a bye while the Dallas Cowboys had a short week to work on their road woes should tip off straight-up bettors, but the spread might be another story.

The Eagles, led by quarterback Carson Wentz, are 7-point favorites on the Sunday Night Football odds against the Cowboys with a 43.5-point total at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Philadelphia is 16-3 straight-up and 12-6-1 against the spread in its last 19 games after having at least a full week off, while Dallas is 0-9 SU in its last nine games after playing the Monday prior.

Dallas carries a good head-to-head trend of being 5-1 SU and ATS in their last six road games at Philadelphia, according to the OddsShark NFL Database, and is also 6-3 ATS in its last nine road games as an underdog of 6.5 or more points.

The Cowboys are 3-5 both SU and ATS after a home loss against the Houston Texans on Monday. Dallas and quarterback Dak Prescott have habitually struggled to score points on the road, and a nicked-up offensive line faces a very strong Eagles defensive line led by tackle Fletcher Cox. For all the formidability of its front four, though, the Eagles are giving up 4.5 yards per rush and Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott should find some room to the outside as both a rusher and pass receiver.

Dallas will be without wide receiver Tavon Austin (groin) and will need more out of Amari Cooper in the passing phase as the ex-Oakland Raider enters his second game for the Cowboys.

The Eagles, who are 4-4 SU and 3-5 ATS and need the win to have any reasonable chance at defending their Super Bowl crown, are 7-1 SU and 6-2 ATS over their last eight games at night. Bettors’ confidence in the Eagles’ offensive capabilities might come down to the health of right tackle Lane Johnson (knee), who is expected to play and provide resistance to the Dallas pass rush.

Quarterback Carson Wentz now has wide receiver Golden Tate, recently acquired via trade, in his arsenal against a Cowboys pass defense that allows the sixth-worst opponents’ passer rating (101.1) in the NFL.

The ground game has generated middling results for the Eagles, who are still hoping either Corey Clement or Wendell Smallwood can take a lead role. Dallas also allows the second-least yards per rush in the NFL, which is a small reason to think the Cowboys will offer some resistance by forcing Wentz into obvious passing downs.

Wentz will likely face some long-yardage scenarios, though, as the Cowboys allow the second-least yards per carry.

There are pronounced UNDER trends in this matchup. The total has gone UNDER in the Cowboys’ last three games against the Eagles, with an average combined score of 30.67 points. The total has gone UNDER in the Cowboys’ last eight games on the road, with an average combined score of 31.25 points. And the total has gone UNDER in eight of the Eagles’ last nine games at home, with an average combined score of 31.89 points.

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 Spotify or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

Eagles’ rush could be key vs. Patriots’ Brady

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MINNEAPOLIS — Neither New England nor Philadelphia is a tropical paradise, so for the Patriots and Eagles, the Minnesota winter weather has been pretty normal for them. That’s a good thing as both teams head into their Super Bowl LII meeting on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium trying to treat it like just another 60-minute game.

After the media circus they endured Monday in St. Paul, the players for both the Patriots (15-3) and the Eagles (15-3) welcomed the opportunity to get back to some semblance of normal game week preparation and to focus on the football, even if it’s in a new place.

“We’ve got to go out and practice and kind of get away from the madness,” said Philadelphia defensive end Fletcher Cox on Wednesday after the Eagles practiced at the University of Minnesota. “I just treat it as a regular game week. Things I would do at the facility, I’m doing here.”

Road to Super Bowl LII: Stream, start time, highlights and more

One thing the Eagles did successfully at home and on the road all season was pressure the opponent’s quarterback, and when the Patriots have faltered in two Super Bowl losses to the Giants in the past decade, a relentless pass rush has contributed. But the highly touted Eagles defense, which did not allow a point after the Vikings’ opening drive of the NFC title game, is wary about putting too much of their attention on Patriots star Tom Brady.

“It’s Tom plus 10 guys on the field. We can’t just focus on one guy, if we’re going to be real about it,” Cox said. “I think we have to focus on their whole offense, because they’ve got a lot of great players. We have to go out and be ourselves. We’ve got to go out and do the little things right and not beat ourselves in order to be victorious.”

New England tight end Rob Gronkowski, who missed the second half of the AFC title game win over Jacksonville due to a concussion, is slated to play.

“Rob’s a tough guy. Obviously, this isn’t something you can just fight through,” said Brady.

While the Patriots offense has revolved around Brady since their first Super Bowl win in 2002, the defense has been one of constant evolution, and the unit adopted yet another new look late in the regular season when linebacker James Harrison came on board after he was jettisoned by the Steelers.

“When you’re in a system for as long as he’s been, there are a lot of things that are habits that get ingrained, which they should be. Some of those things carry over. Some of them kind of don’t,” Belichick said of Harrison, who has played 178 of his 193 NFL regular-season games for Pittsburgh. “He’s done a great job of trying to separate them and do what we’ve asked him to do.”

While the Eagles will be looking for the franchise’s first Super Bowl title, having lost the big game after the 1980 and 2004 seasons, there may be more pressure on the Patriots, who will be seeking their sixth title and their second in a row, knowing that the coaching staff will look significantly different next season. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia are both widely expected to be head coaches in Indianapolis and Detroit, respectively, next season.

“I realize and I understand and I appreciate the talent in the coaches in our building. I’m grateful for the opportunity to even be coached by them,” said Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola, sounding very much like he was saying goodbye. “Whatever their opportunities are in the future, I’ll be excited for them.”

There’s one more opportunity for them on Sunday. And it sounds plenty exciting.

Eagles having fun on big stage, not intimidated by Patriots

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BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (AP) Wrestling masks have replaced the dog masks.

The underdog Philadelphia Eagles are having fun with the media frenzy leading up to the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots. They’re staying relaxed, loose and won’t be intimidated by their opponent’s incredible success.

Three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and All-Pro right tackle Lane Johnson on Wednesday donned masks that resembled the ones WWE star Rey Mysterio and other luchadores wear in the ring.

Road to Super Bowl LII: Stream, start time, highlights and more

“This was a gift from Mexico so I can have super powers all week,” Cox said about the green mask featuring an Eagles logo.

“I’m just having fun right now. We know why we’re here. We can’t come into this all uptight. You have fun when it’s time to have fun and get serious when it’s time to get serious.”

Johnson and defensive end Chris Long pulled out German shepherd masks and wore them off the field and in their interviews after the Eagles beat Atlanta in the divisional round. The Eagles (15-3) were the first No. 1 seed to enter their first playoff game as an underdog.

The city, which has always had an underdog personality, embraced the masks. Johnson and Long then turned it into a charitable venture . They created underdog T-shirts that were sold with all proceeds going to the Philadelphia school district’s not-for-profit arm.

The Eagles were underdogs again in the NFC championship game and routed the Vikings 38-7. They’re in the same spot against the Patriots, who are 4+-point favorites on Sunday.

But these Eagles don’t fear Bill Belichick, Tom Brady or New England’s dynasty. Johnson called Brady a “pretty boy” and made it clear he’s not bothered by the hype.

“I definitely respect him and all that he’s done in this league,” Johnson told The Associated Press. “I’m not going to go into the Super Bowl worshipping this man and make him more than what he is. No disrespect.

“As far as bulletin-board material, they can put it on their nightstands for all I care, in their bathrooms, I don’t care. I don’t think you need any motivation to play in the Super Bowl. They know that.”

Brady and Belichick have led the Patriots to five Super Bowl titles, including two of the past three seasons. They beat the Eagles 24-21 in the big game 13 years ago.

Philadelphia players respect the duo’s accomplishments, but aren’t going into the game already defeated. Several players were part of a 35-28 upset win at New England in 2015. The Eagles were a losing team under Chip Kelly that season, but still went on the road and knocked off the 10-1 Patriots.

That won’t matter when the teams meet for the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Still, it’s a confidence-booster for some guys.

“I think when you’ve been playing for a long time, you’ve had games where you’ve played unbelievable players and unbelievable coaches,” All-Pro center Jason Kelce said.

“To me, this isn’t any different. These guys have been more consistent throughout the years, but this is the NFL. You play good players every week. There’s good coaches you go against every week. I don’t think you look at this any different than the fact that this is just another game. You see what they do really well and how you can defend it.”

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