I guess last week's game wasn't as tough as I thought....hopefully you took that advice. To review, I said I didn't like either the O/U or the spread, so let's tease it, making the Eagles +5 and the O/U 51.5.
Obviously, the Eagles won, so that part was unnecessary, but the game finished at 51 points...had I taken the under without the tease, obviously I would have lost.
This week, we have another tough game to call. The Eagles and Cowboys are very evenly matched on paper. First we have to cover what the lines are, and there's some disagreement. SBnation says the line opened at Dallas -1.5, but OddsShark says it opened with the Eagles -1.5. Fortunately, they do agree on what the current lines are, depending on the bookmaker:
Spread: Eagles -3 (-2.5 at a couple sites).
Over/Under: 55 (54.5 at something called 5Dimes, which I'm not familiar with.)
For future reference, I work with Bovada's lines because that's
where my personal account is a well known, widely available line.
This week, I'll set out the relevant info upfront, then we'll use it to evaluate the potential bets.
- Both teams are 3-3, and have played remarkable similar schedules. Football Outsiders rates the Eagles schedule difficulty so far as 0.3% (every slightly more difficult than average) and the Cowboys at -1.1% (slightly easier).
The Eagles lost to the Chiefs by 10 points, the Cowboys lost by 1 point.
The Eagles lost to the Broncos by 32 points, the Cowboys lost by 3 points.
The Eagles lost to the Chargers by 3 points, the Cowboys lost by 9 points.
In the shared losses, the Cowboys have performed better.
The Eagles beat the Giants by 15 points, the Cowboys won by 5 points.
The Eagles beat the Redskins by 6 points, the Cowboys won by 15 points.
Clearly, that's a wash.
Elsewhere, the Eagles beat the Bucs and the Cowboys beat the Rams. Neither one is an overly impressive win, given the quality of the competition, but you'd have to give the edge to the Cowboys.
Overall, you have to give the Cowboys the edge when it comes to W/L resume, though it's a relatively small margin.
- Overall, the Eagles rank 15th in total DVOA (0.7%), worse than the Cowboys, who rank 11th (11.9%).
- The Eagles have the 2nd best offense according to FO (24.7%). The Cowboys have the 21st ranked defense by FO (7.5%, positive is BAD on defense).
- The Cowboys have the 8th best offense (13%). The Eagles have the 30th ranked defense (16%).
-The Eagles STs rank 29th overall (-7.9%), which is significantly worse than Dallas, which is ranked 4th overall at 6.5%.
So you've got a great offense (Eagles) against a mediocre defense (Dallas), a good offense (Dallas) against a terrible defense (Eagles), and a very big advantage for Dallas on Special Teams.
By unit, that's clearly an edge for Dallas (which is illustrated in the overall DVOA numbers).
At the moment, the Eagles are 3 point favorites. They get a couple for being at home, but the fact is the Eagles should NOT be favored in this game. Dallas has a few injuries, but the biggest (Demarcus Ware) is to a player who is traveling with the team and looks like he has a very real chance to play.
At best, this is a 50/50 tossup, which means take the points (Dallas +3). I don't feel too confident about that, and if I were actually betting, might tease it to Dallas +9. This looks to be a very close game, so 9 points should offer good protection. If you're taking the standard line, consider buying the extra half point (to make if Dallas +3.5) and secure a win if the Eagles take the game by a field goal.
Dallas has hit the over in 3 out of 6 games. The Eagles have hit the over in 5 out of 6 games.
Dallas games have averaged a total of 55.8 points. Eagles games have averaged 57.5 points. Neither defense is good and the weather doesn't look like it will be a limiting factor. If I'm taking the O/U straight up, the Over 55 looks to be the better side.
Dallas has scored fewer than 21 points just once (16 against KC), and that was against the best defense in the league. Given the Eagles terrible defense, the Cowboys passing attack (who is covering Dez?), and the likelihood of several big special teams plays for Dallas, and it would surprise me if the Cowboys didn't score more than 24 points. In fact, I think they'll hit close to 30.
Meanwhile, the Eagles have scored 30 or more in 4 of their 6 games, failing against only KC and Denver. Dallas' defense ranks slightly worse than Denver's and slightly better than WAS and NYG. So mid-to-high 20s seems like a fair expectation.
If both teams hit 28 points (right in the middle of the expected ranges), that gets you the over.
I feel BEST about the teaser option here (obviously), which I'd use to take Dallas +9 and the Over at 49.
Straight up, I like the Over more than either side of the spread. If I had to take the Spread, I'd side with the Cowboys +3.
This is why it sucks to be divisional games...at the very least, keep the stakes small so you can fully enjoy an Eagles blowout if it happens (unlikely).