The Philadelphia Eagles are 3 ½-point home favorites Thursday night against the Carolina Panthers as both teams try to show they're for real in the NFC.
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This game will be broadcast at 8 pm ET on FOX and 89% of the early bettors favor Philly. There's one other game on Thursday night with Buffalo 1 ½-point dogs at home versus Pittsburgh.
Carolina and Philadelphia have a lot in common as teams. The Panthers lost to New England in the 2003 Super Bowl, and have only made the playoffs once in the last four years.
Injuries have played a part, especially with quarterback Jake Delhomme last year, but that doesn't tell the whole story of their struggles.
The Eagles lost the 2004 Super Bowl to New England. The three years since have seen one playoff appearance as well as numerous injuries to their quarterback, Donovan McNabb. McNabb has missed a total of 15 starts over the last three seasons.
Both franchises feel this is the year they return to prominence. The Eagles are 9:1 to win the NFC at Sportsbook.com as McNabb is healthy, and running back Brian Westbrook is happy with his new contract. The defense could improve from it 10th overall ranking last year.
Carolina is 18:1 to win the NFC and optimism is abound with Delhomme's elbow healed, and rookie Jonathan Stewart looking to provide the power running they desperately need.
Defensive end Julius Peppers had a terrible 2007 but looks to bounce back big in a contract year. One downside is that receiver Steve Smith was suspended for two regular season games after a fight with cornerback Ken Lucas.
Smith is not expected to play Thursday for Carolina due to a concussion suffered in their first preseason game, a 23-20 overtime win at home over Indianapolis. Stewart is questionable with his surgically repaired toe, and he needs to start proving his immense talent on the field.
Delhomme is sure to get more throws this week after attempting just one against the Colts. He will then give way to backup Matt Moore.
Philadelphia is coming off a 16-10 loss at their in-state rival, Pittsburgh. McNabb played well in that game going 10-13 for 97 yards, and he's likely to be sharp again in front of the home crowd.
Second year player, Kevin Kolb is the backup and the Eagles quarterback duo provides a solid advantage over their counterparts in this game.
Cornerback Asante Samuel will see his first action of the season, and attempt to justify the huge free agent contact he signed.
These two teams met in the second week of the preseason last year with Philly dominating 27-10 at home.
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