Dallas Cowboys (4-3 SU, 6-1 ATS) vs. Detroit Lions (4-3 SU, 4-3 ATS)
NFL Week 8
Date and Time: Sunday, October 27, 2014, 1:00 pm EST
Where: Ford Field, Detroit, Mich.
TV: FOX/DirecTV 704
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Dal. +3/Det. -3
Over/Under Total: 51
Two teams both sitting at 4-3 and looking to do more damage in the hunt for an NFC playoff spot will do battle in an early game on Sunday at Ford Field, when the Detroit Lions host the Dallas Cowboys in a week eight NFC showdown on Fox.
The Cowboys enter in the midst of a two-game win streak, with the last victory giving them the early lead in the NFC East in last week’s 17-3 decision in Philadelphia. Tony Romo threw for over 300 yards and a score, and the Cowboys defense has put together two stellar weeks back-to-back after getting carved apart by Peyton Manning and Denver a few weeks back.
Detroit got stud receiver Calvin Johnson back last week after missing two games, but even his 155 yards and two touchdowns couldn’t stop Bengals kicker Mike Nugent’s 54-yard field goal as time expired in a hard one to lose, 27-24. The loss dropped the Lions out of first in the NFC North, and with a bye coming up in week nine, now is the time for Detroit and the Cowboys game at home in Ford Field is a game they have to win to stay in the title hunt.
With a pretty even matchup of offenses, on paper, the oddsmakers set the opening point spread for the game with Detroit as the standard 3-pont favorite at home. Although a few sportsbooks have added the hook to make it minus -3.5, for the most part the number has yet to move in either direction early in the week.
Those two pass-happy offenses are also part of the reason the over/under total opened at 51 and is still listed at that number at most books.
In fact, once you break it down these two teams are so similar on offense that they should be able to stop each other just by watching their practice video. Neither team runs the ball very effectively, although the Cowboys are missing running back DeMarco Murray so they have some excuse. Both teams also have good quarterbacks who like to throw the ball a lot (Det. 5th – 295 ypg; Dal. 8th – 286 ypg), and both also have one stud receiver in Johnson and Dez Bryant that demands double and triple teams from defenses to make them overcompensate.
So then if defense is where this game will turn, then the idea of the Lions and their 28th-ranked pass defense (282 ypg allowed) going against Romo, Bryant and mainstay Jason Witten might keep the Detroit coaching staff in their offices late all week. Since the Cowboys secondary is statistically worse than the Lions (30th vs. pass – 292 ypg), well then forget that whole part about this game turning because of defense.
Detroit won the shootout these two teams had the last time they met in 2011, in a, 34-30, slinging match that saw Matthew Stafford (240 yds., 2 TD), Romo (331, 3 TD), Johnson (2 TD) and Bryant (2 TD) all play well in a game that featured 90 passes in JerryWorld Cowboys Stadium. The last time they met in Detroit was in 2007, in what turned into a, 28-27, nail biter that was won on a last-second Romo pass to Witten.
Not that you need more incentive to wager on the over for this game, but it is a perfect 4-0 in the last four head-to-head meetings and is 5-0 in the Cowboys last five games after holding the opposing team to less than 15 points the previous week.
Badger's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: This one may boil down to which team has the ball last. If forced to make a pick here, I'd bet the Lions.
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