This time last year the Eagles were relying on Nick Foles as they fought for a crucial bye and home advantage. This year, they'll need more heroics from their super sub quarterback just to make the postseason...
"Foles started the first two games as Wentz worked his way back from last season's ligament tears, and in typical Folesian style had 117 yards and an interception in the season opening win, and topped 334 with a touchdown in their second game, a loss. Now, should results fall their way, the Super Bowl MVP could lead another playoff run if the Eagles continue to rally."
Houston Texans @ Philadelphia Eagles
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Foles back in the fold
It's that time of year again. The decorations are up, the presents are sorted (hopefully), and Nick Foles is starting for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Their fading postseason prospects were given new life by last Sunday night's stunning win over the stalled Rams, and their Super Bowl hero QB was leading them all the way.
He was forced to play due to Carson Wentz's back injury. The 25-year-old dropped out of the starting line-up last week, adding another bump to his rocky season.
Foles started the first two games as Wentz worked his way back from last season's ligament tears, and in typical Folesian style had 117 yards and an interception in the season opening win, and topped 334 with a touchdown in their second game, a loss.
Now, should results fall their way, the Super Bowl MVP could lead another playoff run if the Eagles continue to rally.
That's a massive if.
Foles put together that amazing run last season and a QB performance for the ages in the Super Bowl, but there's no reason to believe he's a steady option - some will remember when he was a St Louis Ram, or even some of his late games in the regular season last year.
More generally this season, their play has suffered from a revolving door at running back, Alshon Jeffrey's lack of fitness, Nelson Agholor's disappearance, further injuries to their defence and o-line, and the loss of both Frank Reich and John DeFilippo on the offensive staff.
The win last week showed their offensive line returning to it 2017 form as it shut down Aaron Donald, but that result will put a premium on backing Philly here, and the motivation they have for the playoff chase in the NFC East only adds to it. Do you want to trust such an unpredictable team with their back-up QB in that spot?
Texans return to winning trail
Houston have had an extra day's rest on their opponents after taking care of the Jets on Saturday.
That win, combined with New England's failure to turn over the Steelers, bumped Houston into the second seed spot for the AFC playoffs.
It means a bye-week and home game is within their reach, an impressive feat given their 0-3 start. It also means they found their way back to winning after the previous week's loss to the Colts snapped their 10-game streak.
It wasn't the most convincing performance against a Jets team with little to play for, so it's hard to be all that excited about them, and, as we've talked about before, they've won more than their fair share of tight games on a soft schedule.
DeAndre Hopkins continues to be a star, though they've developed a reliable running game too that helps take the pressure off the receiver and his QB Deshaun Watson. Running Back Lamar Miller's status is in doubt for this game, but he's expected to play.
Houston may hang on to their high seeding, but I am looking forward to them facing a tough team in the January gauntlet.
This game ultimately comes down to how much you trust Nick Foles.
If you think he can recreate his play from last year's playoff run, then you can make the case for Philly covering the 1.5 points.
Personally, I don't.
It's not that I particularly like the Texans, but the Eagles have looked far too up-and-down for me this season. The handicap line has moved around a bit on this game, but Houston getting any points is fine by me in a game I think they can win. They're 1.9720/21 on the Exchange with the line at +1.5. It's a conservative play, and the Eagles could be making a late charge, but I'm not backing them to do it.
Rather than looking at the total points line of 46, I'd consider taking a punt on the Sportsbook's Tri-Bet market and Either team win by 7 or less because I expect this to be a tight game.
For a touchdown bet, DeAndre Hopkins has 11 TDs on the season, so he's a decent Texans option at 9/2 for the first scorer, and if rookie Keke Coutee can finally get on the field again, I'd really like him for Any Time honours at 5/1.
But I'd rather look at the Eagles options when they're at home, and old man Darren Sproles, still ploughing away at 35, is back and healthy and looking dangerous in the Philly backfield. I'd take him in both First and Any Time markets at 14/1 and 16/5, given the Eagles will likely have to rely on their backfield in this one.
1pt on Houston Texans +1.5 on the Handicap market @ 1.9720/21 on the Exchange
1pt on Either Team by 7 Points or less on the Tri-Bet market @ 10/11 on the Sportsbook
0.2pt on Darren Sproles on the First Touchdown market @ 14/1 on the Sportsbook
0.5pt on Darren Sproles on the Any Time Touchdown market @ 16/5 on the Sportsbook