American innovation creates excitement and changes how people think.
It can also change pointspreads. Which brings us to the Philadelphia Eagles.
In Week 1, at Washington, the Eagles closed as 4½-point underdogs. This weekend, the Eagles play at home against San Diego and are laying 7½ points.
That’s a remarkable shift considering the Eagles won four games last season, lost 11 of their last 12, and were not favored in any game after Week 8. In the offseason, though, the franchise searched for a new head coach and hired Chip Kelly away from Oregon.
At this point, after the Eagles hung 27 points in the first half on a stunned Washington squad, Eagles fans probably think Kelly invented electricity, beer, and cheesesteaks.
What Kelly did in college football, and is attempting to do in the NFL, is play offense at a pace that puts points on the board and oxygen masks on opposing defenders.
As with any departure from the norm, there is skepticism (when I asked my boss Tuesday what he thought of the Eagles, he said dismissively, “They looked good — for one half”), but it worked on Monday night and it’s going to be fun to watch.
Just be mindful of inflated pointspreads. I won so much taking Oregon over the last few years that if I had a boat, I’d have to name it after Kelly. But there’s a big difference between laying 30 against Washington State and laying a touchdown in the NFC East.
This week’s picks (home team in caps):
CINCINNATI (-7) over Pittsburgh: The Steelers must overcome too many problems, particularly against a superior team whose home opener is Monday night. Risking $110 to win $100.
TAMPA BAY (+3½) over New Orleans: This line makes me suspicious. The Bucs aren’t as bad as they looked against the Jets. Risking $110 to win $100.
HOUSTON (-9) over Tennessee: Expect a laugher as the Texans outclass the Titans in all areas. Risking $110 to win $100.
PHILADELPHIA (-7½) over San Diego: This spread will make more sense when Kelly’s defense is on the same level as his offense, but in their home opener, the Eagles won’t let up on the gas. Risking $110 to win $100.