Philadelphia Eagles (11-5, 9-7 ATS) vs. Dallas Cowboys (11-5, 9-7 ATS), NFC Wildcard Game, Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Saturday, Jan. 9th, 8 PM Eastern, NBC
By Z-Man of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Cowboys -4/Eagles +4
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Last week's regular-season finale between the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles, with so much at stake, turned out to be a disappointing dud, as Dallas won with relative ease. So let's hope this Saturday's rematch between these two teams, this time in an NFC Wild Card-round game, is a little more competitive, at least for our viewing pleasure.
Most online sportsbooks opened this Saturday's game with Dallas favored by 3 ½ or four points, but as of Wednesday afternoon the Pokes were listed at -4 almost everywhere. The total opened at 45, and has held steady in early betting action.
The Cowboys are also being listed at around -200 on most NFL betting moneylines, with the Eagles getting about +175 as the underdogs.
Dallas enters the playoffs as the three seed in the NFC, and would play at Minnesota next week if they win Saturday. Philadelphia enters as the six seed, and would play at New Orleans next week if they win Saturday.
The Eagles struggled to a 5-4 start this season, highlighted by a 40-17 romp over the New York Giants but lowlighted by a bad loss to New Orleans, a puzzling defeat at Oakland and consecutive dropped games to Dallas and San Diego. Philly then reeled off six straight wins, which brought them to 11-4.
The Cowboys started 2-2 this season, then won four straight, starting with that crucial overtime win at Kansas City and bookended by the 20-16 win over the Eagles at The Linc. Dallas then stumbled at Green Bay, a loss that doesn't look that bad now, after the Packers' solid finish. A win in a bad performance over the Redskins followed, as did a Thanksgiving victory over Oakland. But the Pokes then lost two straight games, at the Giants and vs. San Diego, which created doubt about their playoff chances. The Dallas defense, however, made a statement in a 24-17 win over the previously undefeated Saints, and the Cowboys followed that up with a 17-0 blanking of Washington to get to 10-5.
So it came down to these two teams last week in Arlington for the NFC East title, and at least the luxury of playing at home on Wild Card weekend. And in a fairly shocking outcome, Dallas dominated Philly, winning 24-0. The Pokes outgained the Eagles 474-228, outrushed Philadelphia 179-37 and held the ball for 40 minutes.
The Cowboys went off last Sunday as three-point favorites over Philly, with a total of 47 ½.
It was the first time in 70 regular-season games the Eagles had been shut out.
As mentioned above, Dallas defeated Philly back in week nine 20-16, outgaining the Eagles 358-297 and holding the ball for almost 32 minutes.
Both games these teams played this season stayed UNDER the totals on the betting lines.
On the season Philadelphia ranked 11th in the league in total offense at 358 YPG, but just 22nd in rushing at 103 YPG. On the other side of the ball, the Eagles ranked 12th in total defense at 321 YPG and ninth vs. the run at 105 YPG.
The Cowboys this season ranked second in total offense at 399 YPG, seventh in rushing at 131 YPG, ninth in total defense at 317 YPG and fourth vs. the run at 91 YPG.
Dallas also ranked fifth in the league in average time-of-possession at 32:04, while Philly ranked 28th at 28:15.
In the two games these teams played this season, Pokes QB Tony Romo completed 45 of 68 pass attempts for 618 yards, with three TDs and two interceptions. Meanwhile, Eagles QB Donovan McNabb went 36-66 passing for 450 yards, with one touchdown pass and two INTs.
The totals are 6-10 in Cowboys games this season, and 1-8 in their last nine games. On the season Dallas games averaged 38 total points.
Philly went 10-6 on the totals this season, but only 6-6 over its last 12 games. For the season Eagles games averaged 48 points.
The underdog is 8-3 against the pointspreads over the last 11 games in the series between these two teams.
Pokes coach Wade Phillips is 0-4 all-time as a head man in playoff games. On the other sidelines, Philly head coach Andy Reid is 10-7 in the playoffs, with one conference title.
Philadelphia began the season as about a 5/1 choice to win the NFC championship, and 10/1 to win the Super Bowl. As of Wednesday afternoon, the Eagles were getting upwards of 10/1 to win the conference title at various online sportsbooks and 15/1 to win the Superbowl.
And with 11 victories Philly went OVER its regular-season wins over/under of 9 ½.
Dallas started this season getting from 7/1 to 10/1 to win the NFC and from 15/1 to 20/1 to win the Super Bowl. As of Wednesday the Cowboys are getting about 5/1 to win the conference and 9/1 to win the Super Bowl.
And Dallas also went OVER its wins total, which was nine.
The Sagarin PURE POINTS ratings at USAToday.com rates Dallas at 27.3, Philly at 24.9. Toss in Sagarin's updated NFL home-field advantage figure of 2.6, and the Cowboys are favored by five points over the Eagles on the Sagarin line.
Z-Man's Pick: "Son of Bum" get his first playoff win, Tony Romo proves that he's not a choker as the Cowboys roll the eagles in a low scoring, hard fought game. Take the Cowboys to cover the spread.
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