Atlanta Falcons (4-1 SU, 4-1 ATS) vs. Dallas Cowboys (3-2 SU, 2-3
ATS), 4:15 p.m. EST, Sunday, October 25, 2009, Cowboys Stadium,
Arlington, Texas, TV: FOX
by Badger of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Falcons +4/Cowboys -4
Two of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL will meet for the first
time between the stripes when Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons
travel to play Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys in a key NFC clash Sunday afternoon in Cowboys Stadium.
The Falcons will try and maintain their position in the NFC playoff
picture, as their 4-1 record currently has them sitting in second
place in the NFC South. Last week Atlanta won a nail-biter on Sunday
Night Football against the Chicago Bears, 21-14, thanks in part to
some clutch goal line defense and a little bit of self-destruction by
the Bears who went 1-for-4 in the red zone.
Dallas had a bye last week to try and fix some of their issues,
including how they nearly lost to Kansas City on the road the week
before. Dallas eventually beat the Chiefs 26-20, but it took overtime
and a breakout 10-catch, 250-yard, two-touchdown performance from
receiver Miles Austin to make it happen, including the game-winning
60 yard score in OT.
The point spread for the game opened with Dallas favored by 3 points at home, and despite Atlantas 4-1 record and solid play on Sunday
night, the game has moved up the hook to 3.5 or even 4 at a few
offshore sportsbooks after the early wagering came in on the Boys.
The over/under total opened at 47 and has stood firm through the
early steam at the window with little to no line movement, although
there are a few 47.5s listed if you look hard enough for the hook.
The over/under total for this game is the highest number out of all
of the games this week in the NFL because it features two of the most
well balanced offenses in the league.
The Cowboys have given Romo full control of the team and he has
responded by leading them to the 2nd-ranked offense in the league
(420.4 ypg). And its not just Romo throwing the ball either since
the Cowboys running game is currently 3rd in the league with a 161
yards per game average.
Marion Barber is the Cowboys main runner, but injuries to him and
backup Felix Jones at various times during the season so far have
made them rely upon their third-string back Tashard Choice just a
much as the other two. This game will be the first one all season
where all three backs will be available and healthy.
Atlanta and Ryan are also an efficient crew on offense, even though
their overall numbers dont tell the entire story. The Falcons are
18th in yards (327.8 ypg), and they have struggled to get the running
game going in the early season (98.6 ypg 24th), but they make up
for it with a quick-strike capability that produces points (24.6 ppg
But while the focus of this game will probably be on the two young
quarterbacks, its actually the defensive side of the ball that will
make the difference in this game. As in, one of the defensive units
will have to step up and play better than they have been so far this
A once proud and dominating unit, the Dallas defense has been gouged
and exposed numerous times in their first five games. They rank in
the bottom half of the league in just about every category, with the
lone exception being points allowed (19.6 ppg 13th). But when you
factor in the fact that theyve faced Tampa Bay and Kansas City, two
of the leagues weaker offenses, the low scoring total isnt as
Atlantas defense is nearly identical to the Cowboys. They give up a
ton of yards (359.2 ypg 23rd) and are not particularly strong
against the run or the pass, but they do a great job of defending the
red zone. They proved that on Sunday, forcing the Bears to fumble
once at the 1 yard-line and also forcing the Bears to kick three
field goals after failing to punch it in the first three downs.
Overall, their 15.4 points allowed per game ranks 4th in the league,
so its certainly the key to their success so far.
Its been three years since these teams played head-to-head, with
Dallas winning the game 38-28 thanks to two touchdowns from Barber
and two from some clown named Terrell Owens. Oh yeah, the QB for the
Falcons back then was Michael Vick too.
For the record, the Cowboys hold a 5-3 SU record against the Falcons
dating back to 1992. Their ATS record is an even 4-4 in those games,
but the Cowboys did cover the point spread in the last meeting as 3.5-
point favorites. The over/under record is also an even 4-4 in those
eight games, so solid betting trends are hard to find in this game.
The Cowboys do hold a 4-1 ATS record in their last five games
following a bye week.
Badgers Pick: Just too much offense in this game not to go over the
total, in my opinion. But I also think the Cowboys are not 4-points
better than the Falcons at this point of the season, bye week or not.
So take your shot at either or those two wagers, but Im taking
Atlanta plus the 4-points.