Bird Bets: Gardner Minshew looks to lock up the #1 seed in the NFC against the Saints
With the news that Jalen Hurts is sidelined for a second straight week, Gardner Minshew has a chance to not only lock up the NFC East title with a win today, but guarantee the Eagles a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
The Eagles opened at 3-point favorites to start the week, which has since inflated to the Birds -5.5. With over 50k tickets counted as of this writing, 65% of bets are Gardner to cover, but only 19% (!!) of the money is coming in on Philly.
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That is not a good sign, as fewer tickets and more cash on one side usually means the sharps are all over the Saints. But what do they know anyway? Let’s cook up our winning formula in this week’s version of Bird Bets.
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Gardner Minshew loves targeting Devonta Smith & Kenneth Gainwell
In Minshew’s three starts for the Eagles dating back to last season, he’s targeting The Slim Reaper a team-high 20 times (12 last week) and Kenneth Gainwell 16 times compared to just four to Miles Sanders and nine to Dallas Goedert. Also, we saw Devonta Smith absolutely cook in the slot on a couple of plays last week, and I expect that trend to continue against the Saints defense.
It’s worth noting two of those three games came against Dallas’ cover two scheme, so Quez Watkins also saw an uptick in targets. Obviously, the game plan seems to change with Minshew at the helm, particularly Gainwell’s production and usage. New Orleans defensive captain DeMario Davis is one of the most underrated defenders in the entire league and can fly sideline to sideline. His running mate and third-leading tackler on the team, Pete Werner, is active today but fighting through a hamstring issue.
With Marshon Lattimore back today after recovering from an abdomen injury, he will return to man the outside with one of two young cornerbacks who played in his absence. Former Stanford Cardinal Paulson Adebo (6-1, 192 pounds) and rookie Alontae Taylor (6-0, 195 pounds) started at the left and right outside cornerback spots, respectively, while Lattimore remained inactive.
While Taylor surrenders a lowly 46.0% reception rate against him with zero touchdowns allowed and eight pass breakups, Adebo is a different story on that left side. He’s letting receivers catch the ball at an alarming 71% with four touchdowns against him to six pass breakups and zero interceptions. Marshon Lattimore will most likely travel with AJ Brown, so DeVonta Smith will take either Taylor or Adebo to route running school this afternoon.
DeVonta Smith OVER 57.5 receiving yards (-115)
DeVonta Smith Anytime TD (+140)
Kenneth Gainwell Anytime TD (+400)
*I could not find any Kenneth Gainwell receiving props, but I would take him for 30+ today*
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix the RPO
I know Gardner Minshew is not even in the same realm of athleticism as Jalen Hurts, but not running RPO action directly at Micah Parsons after his absurd comments last week shocked me. The Eagles recorded their third-lowest rushing total of the season against Dallas, with only 87 yards on the ground.
I’m not suggesting that Shane Steichen should make a run-pass-option the Eagles’ “go-to” play with Gardner Minshew at the helm, but if teams are going crash their edges after Miles Sanders or Kenneth Gainwell, let the Florida man loose. His rushing total sits at 11.5 yards against New Orleans, and Minshew has never topped more than 11 yards rushing with the Eagles.
But some droughts are meant to be broken, and I think Minshew tricks the Saints’ defense by keeping one for a big gainer. It’s also a game in front of the Philly faithful where the Birds can potentially lock up the number one seed in the NFC, so you know that Gardner will leave everything he has out there on Lincoln Financial Field.
Gardner Minshew OVER 11.5 rushing yards (-115)
Gardner Minshew OVER 250.5 pass/rush yards (-115)
Gardner Minshew Anytime TD (+400)
Happy Birthday, Big Play Slay
Today is Darius Slay’s 32nd birthday and he will celebrate it by locking down Saints’ rookie sensation Chris Olave. Olave also returns to the lineup after missing time with his own hamstring injury and is Andy Dalton’s favorite target by far. His 98 targets lead the team, with Alvin Kamara trailing him at a distant 68 targets. Dalton will look Olave’s way early and often, and it’s been a minute (Week 6) since Darius Slay picked off a pass. Why not break the streak on his birthday?
Andy Dalton OVER 0.5 INTs (-145)
Eagles D/ST Anytime TD (+550) – funny money bet
Lucky Lucciano Lottery Ticket = +1200
- DeVonta Smith Anytime TD (+160)
- DeVonta Smith OVER 54..5 receiving yards (-130)
- Kenneth Gainwell Anytime TD (+360)
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