Add up the spreads of this weekend’s Denver-Chicago, Tennessee-Cincinnati, Oakland-Kansas City, Houston-Cleveland, Seattle-St. Louis, New Orleans-Carolina, and Washington-Tampa Bay games, and you get 21.
Meanwhile, the Patriots are favored by 22 points - more than the favorites in seven other NFL games combined - over the Eagles Sunday night.
Only the Pittsburgh Steelers are favored by anything considered a digit in the same ballpark, a line of 16 over the 0-10 Miami Dolphins. The Eagles are 5-5.
Five games remain for the 10-0 New Englanders after this weekend, and that line is certain to only go up, as Vegas tries to figure out what in the name of Nick Papa Georgio they can do to slow down bets on the Patriots. It might take 30-point spreads against the Dolphins and the Jets. Perhaps 40 on the latter.
Maybe there’s a bit of hyperbole injected there, but would a line of 30-plus be out of the question against Eric Mangini and Co.? Certainly not.
Not the way the Patriots have been bludgeoning their opponents, winning by an average score of 46-18 over their last five games against Dallas, Miami, Washington, Indianapolis, and Buffalo, a 28-point margin. And keep in mind, that 46 is actually weighed down with the Patriots only putting 24 on the board against the Colts.
The 22-point spread is the largest since 1976, when the Steelers were favored by 24 over the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Pittsburgh won the game the only way that New England has somehow managed not to this season thus far; by a shutout score of 42-0. The closest the Patriots have come to a shutout was in the Oct. 28 contest against the Redskins, Washington scoring a late touchdown in a 52-7 New England rout.
With the Ravens, Dolphins and Jets still on the radar, don't bet against it.
Who they're picking
How folks from around the country see this weekend's Patriots-Eagles game:
Jim McCabe, Boston Globe: Patriots. “The bad news is, as a reward for all their unmatched success, the Patriots may never see the sun again. Night games, night games, night games. Blame the bozo who invented "flexible scheduling."
Boston Globe staff: Chris Gasper, Greg Lee, and Scott Thurston pick the Patriots with the 22 points. Jim McBride and Mike Reiss pick the Eagles to cover.
Peter King, Sports Illustrated: Patriots 40, Eagles 14. “I think Donovan McNabb will play, but getting hurt (sprained ankle, sprained thumb) in November for the fourth time in the last six years leads me to think that Andy Reid will be led to make this inevitable decision after the season: whacking McNabb and going with '07 second-round pick Kevin Kolb.”
Cold, Hard Football Facts: Patriots 40, Eagles 17. "Even with the ridiculous number of points they're giving each week, the Patriots are 9-1 against the spread this season. The smart money is on New England to cover a shocking 22-point spread against a decent team."
Mike Tanier, Football Outsiders: Patriots. “The Patriots beat the Eagles, Panthers, and Rams in their three Super Bowl victories. All three games were close; at the time, it could be said that any of these three teams were the Patriots' equals. A few years later, the Patriots are doing victory laps while their opponents are lying around like empty beer cans on the infield. The Eagles aren't quite as hapless as the Rams or Panthers, but it's a matter of degree. They peaked and fell while the Patriots peaked and kept peaking. The Eagles covered the spread in Super Bowl XXXIX. They might cover on Sunday, but only because the Patriots are due to fall flat and post a single-digit win one of these days.”
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Patriots 31, Eagles 20. “How do you pick against the Patriots? You don't. They will win this one like they've won the previous 10, with plenty of offense. The only thing to watch here is that the Eagles blitz a lot and will hit Tom Brady. That will lead to a turnover or two and the Eagles will keep it closer than the experts think.”
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: “Patriots 45, Eagles 14. “We went with a survival pool format for nine weeks, and it worked. Then the Saints let us down against the Rams, and the Steelers followed suit against the Jets. So let's go in a different direction. The Patriots are really the lock of every week at this point. Their ball of fury is bowling over everything, and they face the Eagles with a banged-up Donovan McNabb in Foxborough.”
Jeff Zillgitt, USA Today: Patriots 41, Eagles 17. “Poor Philadelphia. The Eagles are just a convenient test subject in the Patriots' quest to score 80 against the New York Jets on Dec. 16.”
Les Bowen, Philadelphia Daily News: Patriots 53, Eagles 16. “It doesn't matter whether Donovan McNabb or A.J. Feeley quarterbacks the Eagles. The only way they will win is if Brian Westbrook takes the snap from center and runs with the ball every play, in the middle of a howling snowstorm that somehow shuts down Tom Brady's circus. I wouldn't hold my breath.”
Vegas Vic, Philadelphia Daily News: Eagles (taking the points): “Not only is this one of the largest spreads in Philly history, the weekly swing is off the charts. Last week, the Birds were -9 or -10, this week, +22 or +22. That's a 32-point swing from favorite to underdog. Never, ever have we seen that kind of margin. Something else we've never seen? The Eagles are giving up fewer points per week, 18.7, than this spread. Unheard of!”
Greg Cote, Miami Herald: Patriots 38, Eagles 14. “The real Game of the Week may have been Packers-Lions on Thursday, considering it was -- incredibly -- the only Week 12 matchup in which both teams had winning records. But the Pats are a constant GOTW candidate now, for the sheer spectacle. They clinch AFC East title with a win or a Bills loss. How crazy is that? Eagles have won two straight but are mediocre and may be without hobbled Donovan McNabb. No matter, though, if it's McNabb or his backup, A.J. Feeble. New England beats everybody and everything, even including crazy 22-point betting lines.”
ESPN.com: Patriots across the board.
Yahoo! sports: Patriots across the board.
Puppet picks: Patriots.
Our pick: Patriots 42, Eagles 17
Watch the Eagles try to control the clock by utilizing Brian Westbrook on the ground early. Of course, when the Pats turn around and score two touchdowns in about 7-8 plays, controlling the clock doesn’t really mean all that much anymore.