Does anyone believe in the Eagles besides Eagles fans?


A statue of Nick Foles talking to Eagles Coach Doug Pederson about the “Philly Special” is up already. This seems hasty. (Matt Slocum/Associated Press)

The Philadelphia Eagles will open an NFL season as Super Bowl champions for the first time on Thursday night as they begin their defense at home against the Atlanta Falcons. The view from Vegas is that they won’t be able to say the same thing next season.

As detailed by ESPN’s David Purdum, the Eagles are not generating much heat among Super Bowl futures gamblers. At 14-to-1 odds to win it all again this season, according to the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, they sit behind nine teams — the Patriots (6 to 1), Steelers, Saints, Rams (all 10 to 1), Vikings, Packers, Jaguars, Chargers and Texans (all 12 to 1) — who have been given stronger chances to win the Super Bowl by the oddsmakers. It’s the worst odds for a defending champion since the Ravens were 30 to 1 to repeat after their 2012-13 title, and 10 teams have attracted more Super Bowl futures bets than the Eagles.

On the one hand, this makes a whole lot of sense. Only eight Super Bowl champions have successfully defended their title the next season, and it hasn’t been done since the Patriots repeated in 2004 and 2005. Plus, the Eagles aren’t exactly at full strength entering the season: Quarterback Carson Wentz, who helped lead the Eagles into the playoffs with a 33-touchdown, 7-interception season in 2017, is coming off the two torn knee ligaments he suffered in Week 14 last year. He won’t play Thursday night against the Falcons in the NFL season opener — Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles gets the nod — and no one besides Coach Doug Pederson and Philadelphia’s medical staff truly has an idea when he will return. Pederson will only say that Wentz is “close” to coming back, admitting that he hasn’t been cleared to return to games by the team’s doctors.

Philadelphia also is a little thin at wide receiver, with Alshon Jeffrey and Mack Hollins out for Thursday night’s game, and on the defensive line: Tackle Timmy Jernigan (15 starts last season) will start the season on the PUP list and miss at least the first six games while he continues to recover from a herniated disk he suffered during an offseason workout. Plus, linebacker Nigel Bradham will miss Thursday’s game while serving a one-game suspension over a violation of the NFL’s personal-conduct policy.

The point spread for the Falcons game has shifted accordingly as the bets have come in on Atlanta:

One online book now had the Falcons as the favorites as of early Thursday afternoon:

Pinnacle is the first book that has crossed the line on tonights NFL Game as Atlanta now -1 at Pinnacle. Money continues to pour in on Atlanta. @WagerTalk

— Marco D’Angelo (@MarcoInVegas) September 6, 2018

The recently opened sportsbooks in Atlantic City — Eagles territory, in other words — are giving Philadelphia better chances of repeating. As told by Ed Barkowitz of earlier this week, they are 11 to 1 at Bally’s and Harrah’s, 9 to 1 at Ocean Resort and the Resorts casino, 8-to-1 at the Golden Nugget and 7 to 1 at the Borgata.

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