It’s not quite New England’s Pursuit of Perfection from 2007 — at least not yet — but as the calendar flips to October, we’re still undefeated here with over/under bets after pulling out last week’s Bengals at Packers Over 44 play. Let’s try to keep it going with this Week 4 best bet.
Matt Zylbert’s 2017 NFL Over/Under Betting Record: 3-0, +300
Week 1: ARI/DET O48 (WIN)
Week 2: SF/SEA U42 (WIN)
Week 3: CIN/GB O44 (WIN)
*Each bet graded as if it were to win 100 dollars/units
Philadelphia Eagles at Los Angeles Chargers
OVER 46 (-120)
Although the Chargers have had issues selling out their miniscule 27,000-seat StubHub Center through the first couple of home games, it’s certainly not due to lack of excitement as the beginning of their new residence in Los Angeles has contained much of the same heart-pounding late dramatics that fans often saw in San Diego.
And much like that era of Chargers football, these close contests are ending in narrow defeats. If not for their rookie kicker, in fact, this team could be 2-1 right now.
Nonetheless, this is a club that still boasts a potent offense when in rhythm. Philip Rivers has had one of the more underrated careers of any quarterback in recent memory, and through three games this year, he’s completed 73 of 112 (65.2 percent) passes for 760 yards, while having amassed four touchdowns and four interceptions. That’s interesting because currently, his yards-per-attempt (6.79) and Quarterback Rating (81.7) would register as career lows, so you have to figure those numbers bump up sooner than later.
His cast of weapons has also been solid, at least within the receiving corps. The resilient Keenan Allen has come back from two straight season-ending injuries and looked like he never left, already recording 19 catches for 196 yards and a touchdown. He also already has taken on his usual workload, leading the team in targets with 28.
Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams are also nice contributors, and with a dangerous two-headed monster at tight end consisting of future Hall-of-Famer Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry, you have to like Rivers’ chances for success in this one opposite a defense that has surrendered more passing yards than all but three NFC teams.
Second-year tailback Melvin Gordon is coming off his best showing of the young campaign, producing 79 yards on 17 rushes against a quality Chiefs defense, so hopefully that should get him going after averaging just 2.5 yards per carry in the first two games. Philadelphia has been stout versus the run, but their struggles in pass defense should open things up for Gordon to deliver, especially with him also being so dangerous through the air.
Meanwhile, the Eagles are out to an encouraging 2-1 start following their thrilling win at the horn last week thanks to rookie Jake Elliott’s 61-yard field goal. Unlike their Week 4 opponent, Philadelphia has also played in some higher-scoring affairs, with each of their three games totaling at least 47 points. Considering where the over/under line is, we’d love for them to extend that streak just one more week.
A lot of credit should go to their new-look running game, which currently ranks eighth in the NFL. Despite losing Darren Sproles for the year, there’s still an effective pairing here with LeGarrette Blount providing his usual smash-mouth brand of football and Wendell Smallwood coming off an excellent performance last weekend in his first game trying to fill the void left by Sproles.
Either way, it’s a favorable matchup for the Eagles as they square off with the defense that ranks 31st in rushing yards allowed. Last week, they faced the team that is currently last, the Giants, and took advantage, gashing their NFC East rival for 193 yards on the ground, averaging just under five yards per rush in the process.
Carson Wentz is also out to a pleasing start in his second campaign, being 72-for-116 (62.1 percent) with his pass attempts, racking up 816 yards and five touchdowns, compared to two interceptions. He’s also exhibited some scrambling ability, having already picked up 83 yards on 14 rushes.
The addition of Alshon Jeffery has helped as the former Bear has registered 14 catches for 186 yards and a score. His presence has also been a help to the rest of the cast, with former draft bust Nelson Agholor looking as good as he ever has in the NFL. That’s evident in the fact he’s already matched his career high for touchdowns in a season with two — and there should be more coming.
Perhaps most impressive of Wentz’ weapons through the air has been Zach Ertz, who has looked like an upper-echelon tight end in the early going. In fact, he leads the team in receptions (21), yards (245) and is tied for the most targets with 28. Overall, the Eagles just have a lot of parts working right now, and against this Chargers defense, that’s shaping up to continue.
With the line at 46, don’t be surprised if this over bet plays out much like the usual Chargers affair, full of ups, downs and close calls. But in the end, hopefully it’s nothing but exhilaration for ‘over’ backers as we seek to remain unbeaten on the season.