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Thursday, December 22, 2011
Could Eagles be a sleeper to win it all?

By Sarah Phillips
Special to Page 2

LeSean McCoy
LeSean McCoy and the Eagles were left for dead three weeks ago, but they're not going away quietly.

On Dec. 2, following the Philadelphia Eagles' embarrassing Thursday night loss to the Seahawks, the Las Vegas Hilton Race and Sportsbook listed their odds to win Super Bowl XLVI at 5000-to-1.

Never mind the hot seat. Andy Reid's chair was smoldering.

Then, Michael Vick returned from injury, and the Eagles began to limit their mistakes on both sides of the ball. Philadelphia beat the Dolphins, 26-10, and blew out the Jets, 45-19.

Today, although the Eagles sit in third place in the NFC East at 6-8, their odds to win the Super Bowl have dropped all the way down to 25-to-1.

To put that number into perspective, consider that the Texans and Broncos are also currently listed at 25-to-1 to win the Super Bowl. Of course, Houston has already clinched the AFC South title, and Denver has a one-game lead atop the AFC West. Meantime, the Eagles are on the outside looking in on the playoffs. They need both the Cowboys and Giants to stumble in order to have a shot at the postseason. Now that's respect from the oddsmakers.

Although the Eagles have been the butt of jokes this season, there's no denying they have a ridiculous amount of talent. Discipline, on the other hand, is what the Eagles have lacked, with DeSean Jackson's contract dispute being a prime example.

Consider this interesting, albeit unrealistic, idea: If Jackson bet his $769,960 salary for this season on the Eagles on Dec. 2, he would rake in approximately $3.8 billion if Philadelphia hoists the Lombardi Trophy in February.

Here's the scenario the Eagles need to reach the playoffs:

  1. The Giants lose to the Jets on Saturday.
  2. The Eagles beat the Cowboys on Saturday.
  3. The Giants beat the Cowboys next week.
  4. The Eagles beat the Redskins next week.

The Cowboys and Giants haven't been consistent this season -- to say the least. Who's to say this scenario can't come to fruition?

A few weeks ago, the Eagles were left for dead as far as the Super Bowl was concerned. But don't count them out just yet.

Instead, consider the insight once posed by a wise man named Lloyd Christmas: "So you're telling me there's a chance?"


 

Eagles at Cowboys, Saturday, 4:15 p.m. ET, Fox
Pick: Eagles (+1)


 

Giants at Jets, Saturday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox
Pick: Jets (-3)



This week's college picks

 

Maaco Bowl Las Vegas
Arizona State vs. No. 7 Boise State, Thursday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
Kellen Moore can become the first college quarterback to win 50 games as a starter with a victory over ASU. Both the Broncos and Sun Devils have struggled against the spread recently, with Boise State going 0-6 in its past six games, and Arizona State going 0-4 in its past four games. But the trump card goes to Boise State, as the Broncos are 5-2-1 in their past eight games when facing the Pac-12.
Pick: Boise State (-14)


 

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl
Nevada vs. No. 21 Southern Mississippi, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
Nevada was allotted 5,600 tickets to the Hawaii Bowl. As of Monday, it had sold only 10, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal. That pretty much sums up this game. Southern Mississippi is 8-2-1 against the spread in its past 11 games.
Pick: Southern Mississippi (-6)


 

AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl
Missouri vs. North Carolina, Monday, 5 p.m. ET, ESPN
North Carolina wide receiver Dwight Jones was suspended on Tuesday for promoting a birthday party in his honor on a nightclub flyer. On Wednesday, someone from the NCAA apparently realized that this would go down as the dumbest suspension ever, and Jones was reinstated. Missouri is 0-4 in its past four games as a favorite of 3½ to 10 points.
Pick: North Carolina (+5)


 

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl
Western Michigan vs. Purdue, Tuesday, 4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Little Caesars pizza? Good. Little Caesars Bowl? Bad. Western Michigan is 2-7-1 against the spread in its past 10 nonconference games.
Pick: Purdue (-2½)


 

Belk Bowl
Louisville vs. North Carolina State, Tuesday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
Although Louisville won a share of the Big East title, the Cardinals missed out on the Orange Bowl by being ranked lower than West Virginia in the BCS standings. However, the Cardinals have a great shot to beat the number against NC State. Louisville is 12-1 against the spread in its past 13 games against ACC opponents.
Pick: Louisville (+2½)


 

Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman
Toledo vs. Air Force, Wednesday, 4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
For those of you complaining about the Alabama-LSU rematch because of the low score in the first meeting, Toledo-Air Force is right up your alley. Expect a lot of scoring on offense and a lot of gaps on defense. Air Force is 5-2 against the spread in its past seven games as an underdog.
Pick: Air Force (+3)


 

Bridgeport Education Holiday Bowl
California vs. No. 24 Texas, Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
The last time Texas played a bowl game in California, the Longhorns lost to Alabama in the BCS title game two years ago. That loss seemed to mark the beginning of a downward spiral for Texas. The Golden Bears will look to extend the Longhorns' misery. Cal is 4-0 against the spread in its past four games overall.
Pick: California (+3)



Last week's picks: 5-3
Season record: 66-52-2 (55.9 percent)


You can follow Sarah Phillips on Twitter @SarahPhilli.


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