Philadelphia Eagles (9-6 SU, 8-7 ATS) vs. Dallas Cowboys (8-7 SU, 8-7 ATS)
NFL Week 17
Date and Time: Sunday, December 29, 2013, 8:30 pm EST
Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: PHI -6.5/DAL +6.5
Over/Under Total: 53
The NFC East has been a season-long struggle for the four teams in the division, so I guess itís only appropriate that the division title will come down to a week 17 matchup of the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys inside JerryDome or AT&T Stadium on Sunday Night Football in America on NBC.
And if thatís not enough drama to put on the NFLís final regular season game for 2013, add into the equation that Cowboys maligned QB Tony Romo is highly questionable with a back injury (many have reported him out, but the team medical staff is still insisting heís day-to-day) and you have the potential for a memorable and historic finale on Sunday.
The Eagles have gotten to the winner-take-all final by winning six of their last seven games including a straight-out pasting of the Chicago Bears on last weekís Sunday night telecast, 54-11. It finally looks like the Eagles have officially ďtakenĒ to new coach Chip Kellyís offensive scheme, so the Eagles have to like their chances Sunday against the Cowboys and their 31st-ranked defense.
After bringing in retreads like David Carr, Tyler Thigpen, Caleb Hanie and John Skelton for tryouts this week, the Cowboys signed Jon Kitna out of retirement to be the third QB on Sunday behind Romo and backup Kyle Orton. But again, the Cowboys and their offense is not whatís stopping this team from being playoff-caliber Ö itís the defense that canít stop a Pop Warner team from amassing huge chunks of yardage on every play that will be their downfall.
When oddsmakers opened this game late last Sunday the Eagles were set as small 2-point favorites on the road. Then news broke Monday of Romo and his back, and the Eagle rocketed up 6-point favorites and are currently sitting as -6.5 or -7 at most sportsbooks.
The over/under total opened at high number of 55.5, but it has since dropped a little due to the Romo news and can now be found at either 53 or 52.5.
Itís hard to handicap a game when the starting quarterback is questionable, but with everyone outside of the Dallas locker room expecting Romo to be done for the year, the Eagles and bettors will be best served to prepare for Orton to get the start.
Orton is solid and, even though he hasnít taken snaps in a few years, he should be able to move the Cowboys offense. Itís simple really, hand the ball off to DeMarco Murray and get out of the way. When itís third-and-long, toss a jump ball to Dez Bryant, or try and find Jason Witten down a seam if the Eagles roll their coverage toward Bryant too much. Bryant was targeted 16 times in their first meeting (ended w/ 8 rec. for 110 yards), so itís not like the Eagles secondary doesnít know whatís going to happen.
What is going to be hard for Cowboys fans to stomach is how ugly it could get when the Eagles have the ball. Nick Foles didnít play in the first meeting between these two, and since then heís only become one of the most efficient QB in the game today leading the Eagles top-ranked offense (162 ypg rushing Ė 1st) and the second-ranked offense in scoring (27.9 ppg).
Dallas has won three straight over the Eagles, and seven of the last 10, but those were under totally different circumstances than whatís at stake on Sunday night. The underdog is also a solid 5-2 ATS in this series lately, with a lot of that damage coming as the road team (road team is 4-0 ATS in last four).
The best wager on the board for this game could turn out to be the over. Not only is the number dropping because of doubts over Orton running the Cowboys effectively, but the over is 7-1 in Eagles road games this year and the over is also 8-3 in Dallasí last 11 home games.
Badgerís Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Orton and Dallas should still be able to score some points, and I do think the Cowboys are much more dangerous as a big dog in this spot with nobody giving them a chance. Iím just convinced the Cowboys canít stop the Eagles, which means Orton will have to OUTSCORE the Eagles. That is a tall task. Iím staying away from a side in this one. If I play, Iím going to play on the over and hope the Eagles go over 53 on their own again this week. Take the over of 53.
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