Philadelphia Eagles (4-2 SU, 4-2 ATS) vs. Dallas Cowboys (5-1 SU, 5-1 ATS)
NFL Week 8
Date/Time: Sunday, October 30, 2016, 8:30 PM EST
Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
by Badger, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: PHI +4.5/DAL -4.5
Over/Under Total: 43.5
The Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys will put their surprising rookie quarterbacks on full display in front of a primetime audience when the two longtime NFC East rivals renew their hatred for each other inside AT&T Stadium this week on NBC’s Sunday Night Football in America.
The Eagles decided to go with their rookie QB Carson Wentz before the season started, trading away Sam Bradford in the preseason to the Vikings. And while Wentz’s stats through six games won’t wow anyone, he’s performed above expectations and with a 4-2 record there really hasn’t been too many complaints. The Eagles of course scored a ton of redemption for the early season trade last Sunday when Wentz and the Eagle defense scored a huge, 21-10, upset over Bradford and the previously undefeated Vikings. The Eagles sacked Bradford six times and knocked him down countless other times as they took the Vikings to the woodshed to hand them their first loss of the season.
The Cowboys rookie QB Dak Prescott wasn’t expected to play, but was forced into action when Tony Romo was hurt in the preseason (shocker). Prescott has played so good in Romo’s absence that many are speculating that Romo will remain the backup even when his back is healed and he’s cleared to play. Prescott and fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliot have led the Cowboys revival in 2016, leading Dallas to a 5-1 record and the early lead in the NFC East. Dallas should be well prepared to take on their rival Eagles this week too, coming off their bye week last weekend.
Dallas opened as strong 4.5-point favorites in their primetime game with the Eagles, and early betting has sided just enough in favor of Philly that a few sportsbooks have been forced to drop the hook and make the Cowboys just 4-point favorites to try and even the take on both sides. The over/under total opened at 43.5 and has not experienced any line movement yet.
When Prescott and Elliot take the field against the Eagles on Sunday they will be facing their stiffest test to date, since the Philly defense under coordinator Jim Schwartz is ranked 5th overall and ranked 3rd in points allowed with just a meager 14.7 points per game average. However, the Cowboys offense is ranked No. 1 in the NFL in rushing offense with Elliot behind their skilled offensive line (161 ypg), and the Eagles run defense is their weak link (allowing 103 ypg – 14th) so something will have to give when these two meet on Sunday.
As I mentioned, Wentz and the Eagles offense is not setting the world on fire statistically this season. Currently ranked 28th overall at just 322 yards a game, the Eagles offense sort of dinks-n-dunks its way down the field and waits for the opposing defense to make mistakes. Likewise, the Cowboys defense has been a bend but don’t break style of defense this year too, ranked in the middle of the league in most categories except for the one that really counts … points allowed, where there are ranked 7th in the league allowing 17.8 points a contest.
Since this is a divisional rivalry game, there’s plenty of history to use to handicap it. And history will tell you that these two have split the season series each year since 2012 … with the AWAY team winning each game the past three seasons including a, 33-27, overtime victory for Philly in Dallas last season in November. Both teams are 5-5 SU since 2011, and the same could be said for the against the spread records too since both teams are 5-5 ATS since 2011 as well.
The betting trends to note are the fact that the road team is 4-0 ATS the past two seasons, and the underdog is actually 6-1 ATS over the last seven including a 4-1 ATS record for the Eagles in their last five visits to Texas.
Badger's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I think both teams are going to struggle a little on offense in this one. So I’m going to take the safe play here, and take the under of 43.5.
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