Fresh off a perfect 3-0 week during Week 2 of the NFL pre-season, we’ll be looking for more of the same in my favourite week of exhibition action. Week 3 is always exciting because it typically provides the most authentic example of regular season football, and for many teams it’ll be the last run-through for starting lineups. Generally, look for starters to go upwards of an entire half this week, and it should make for some exciting conclusions to position battles and some real competitive football.
For Thursday night, we’ll focus on the City of Brotherly Love where Carson Wentz looks to lead his Eagles against Jay Cutler and the Miami Dolphins. Much was made when Cutler was signed to Miami, but the Dolphins had little choice but to give themselves a shot at bringing in a potential difference maker. By all accounts, Cutler has done well in Adam Gase’s offense in Miami, and fans and experts alike will get a very solid look at him on the road against a fairly stellar defense in the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Eagles meanwhile are revamped and are certainly focused on returning to NFC East supremacy. It won’t be easy as it’s proven again to be quite the tough division – though Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension for Dallas may open things up a bit.
Interestingly enough Philadelphia scrimmaged against Miami earlier this week – and by reporters’ accounts the Eagles fared pretty well against their AFC opponents. Carson Wentz and newcomer Alshon Jeffery formed quite the dynamic duo and it’s clear Wentz is ready to take yet another step for Philly. Can this practice form carry over to Week 3 of the pre-season with a bit more physicality? Read on below to see the analysis, breakdown, and pick for Philadelphia and Miami to kick off Week 3.
Dolphins vs. Eagles Betting Odds:
Miami Dolphins +3.5 (-110)
@ Philadelphia Eagles -3.5 (-110)
Over 42 (-110)
Under 42 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Dolphins vs. Eagles Pick:
With Jay Cutler being a late signing for the Dolphins, it’s clear this is a crucial week for the veteran. He was a tad behind to begin with, and though he has looked pretty good in scrimmages and practices, Cutler needs to show this in some live game action – and that opportunity comes Thursday against the Eagles.
It is expected that Miami’s starters will play the entire first half, and Cutler may even lead a series into the third quarter. For Philly, while nothing is confirmed – it’s also expected that Wentz and his starters will go the first half at the very least. Having said all that, you’d have to give the edge here to the Eagles at home. They’re the healthier team, the more cohesive team, and when you’ve got the more talented home side only laying 3.5 points, you have to favour Wentz and his band of newcomers looking to make a solid first impression. Additionally, beyond Cutler comes Matt Moore – a solid backup, but one who comes up short when you compare him head-to-head against Nick Foles who should play behind Wentz.
Cutler will get a stiff wake-up call and a stark reminder of what first-team NFL defenses are all about. The Eagles are no joke on the defensive side of the football and shoul dprovide a stiff test on Thursday night. Even though Cutler will have his full slate of weapons around him, he’s yet to get a real test in live game action, and going into Philadelphia won’t be easy.
Additionally, last season one area Miami really struggled was defending against the run game. Philadelphia has a talented trio of backs – all of which will get carries and be eager to impress in what’s likely their final chance. Newcomer LeGarrette Blount, Wendell Smallwood, and Darren Sproles should all find holes as Miami has nothing to suggest this weakness has been fixed. At a short price, look for the Eagles to show their demanding home fans they’re ready for Week 1 with a solid outing against an overmatched Jay Cutler and Miami side.
PICK = Eagles -3.5 (-110)