Atlanta Falcons (2-0 SU, 2-0 ATS) vs. Dallas Cowboys (2-0 SU, 1-1 ATS)
NFL Week 3
Date/Time: September 27th, 1:00 PM E
Where: AT&T Stadium
by Jeff Hochman, Professional Handicapper, jhsportsline.com
Point Spread: ATL -2/ DAL +2
Over/Under Total: 45
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Two teams looking to stay undefeated battle in this NFC showdown. This line opened at pick em and was bet up to the current line. The public and “sharps” on the same side.The Atlanta Falcons defeated the New York Giants 24-20 as 2.5-point road dogs last Sunday. The Giants had another meltdown late allowing the Falcons to comeback and get the victory. Atlanta outgained the Giants by 14 yards. It was the first game in their last eight (dating back to last season) that the Falcons won the stats. The Dallas Cowboys defeated the Eagles 20-10 as 6.5-point road underdogs. Dallas outgained the Eagles 363-to-226. The Cowboys run defense was pumped-up facing their former teammate DeMarco Murray. Murray gained a scant 2 yards on 13 carries. Dallas held the Eagles to only 7 rushing yards for the entire game, and held the ball for over 40 minutes.
The big story in this game is that Tony Romo won’t be under Center. You probably already know he is out for at least 8 Weeks. The Cowboys have a BYE coming up, so it’s conceivable that Romo misses only 7 games. I think he will be out longer than expected. How important is Tony Romo to the Cowboys and the betting line? The advanced line had the Cowboys as 4.5-point home favorites. The current line (Atlanta -2) shows a 6.5 point swing. I would not be surprised if the game lands on 3 by game time. The Falcons are looking for a three-game sweep against the NFC East to start the season.
Dallas has one of the best offensive lines in all of football, but have struggled in the past at picking up the blitz. The Cowboys haven’t faced an attacking scheme to the extent the Falcons employ under new head coach Dan Quinn. Brandon Weeden is getting the start for Dallas. I watched him lay an egg in his only start last season against a similar defense in the Arizona Cardinals. And that was with Dez Bryant, DeMarco Murray, and Jason Witten. Murray is gone, Dez is hurt, and Witten is very questionable to play. The Cowboys do have a good backup tight end in Gavin Escobar, so that’s the good news. They also have an improved defense with linebacker Sean Lee back from injury. He was all over the field with 14 solo tackles last Sunday. The bad news is that Brandon Weeden is so mediocre, they traded for quarterback Matt Cassel.
You can be sure the Falcons will send multiple defenders at Weeden and test his decision making. He doesn’t do anything quick and tends to hold the ball much too long. Weeden has a strong arm, but he’s not really athletic and struggles with the deep ball. That doesn’t sound like a winning combo against an aggressive defense. The Falcons have been very good against the run, allowing 63 yards to the Eagles in week one and 97 yards to the Giants last week. Dallas has played well against the pass this season, but the Falcons air attack looks unstoppable. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones are in a zone right now. I don’t see any shutdown corners on the Cowboys roster. I think the Falcons will have a lot of success through the air. Dallas is allowing just 257.5 yards per game, but haven’t faced an offense that is clicking on all cylinders.
Teams that are playing their second straight road game have not performed well this season or in past years. Fading these teams is usually the smart play. Sure, Weeden could surprise me and play a great game, but until I see him do it, I have to fade him. People will see how he completed 7-of-7 passes and threw a touchdown, but that was when the game was pretty much in the bag. The Falcons are 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings. Dallas is 6-2 ATS in their last eight games in Week three.
Jeff’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread:Atlanta Falcons -2
The Cowboys are coming off an emotional victory at Philadelphia. They were facing a former player (DeMarco Murray) who went to a division rival. The Cowboys were fired up to stop him and they did. I see a letdown in this spot for Dallas. I will side with the public and take the road chalk in this one.
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