Dallas Cowboys (4-8 SU, 4-8 ATS) vs. Green Bay Packers (8-4 SU, 7-5 ATS)
NFL Week 14
Date/Time: December 13th, 4:25 PM ET
Where: Lambeau Field
by Jeff Hochman, Professional Handicapper, jhsportsline.com
Point Spread: DALL +7/ GB -7
Over/Under Total: 43.5
At 4-8, the Dallas Cowboys are only one game back in the NFC East. At 3-2, they own the best record against division foes. This is another must win game after defeating the Redskins on Monday Night Football. Dan Bailey kicked a 54-yard FG with 14 seconds remaining to cap a wild finish. Dallas outgained Washington 317-266 despite committing three turnovers. The Packers defeated the Lions on the longest hail-marry (61 yards) to win a game last Thursday. Green Bay was given an extra play (Untimed) because of a face-masking penalty as the Packers were in desperation mode. If you had the Lions and the Under, that miracle touchdown made a winner of the Packers and the Over. That was a BAD BEAT for sure! You won’t see too many walk-off touchdowns in the NFL at the end of regulation. That was some finish and the Packers will be looking to ride that momentum going forward.
If you just glanced at the numbers most people would think these two teams are very similar. Dallas is averaging 330.1 yards on offense per game, while the Packers are averaging 341. On defense, the Cowboys are allowing 326 yards per game while the Packers are allowing 356. Keep in mind, the Cowboys have played a lot of games without Tony Romo and he’s a big difference maker on offense. Matt Cassel is efficient in running the system, but struggles to make plays if the pocket breaks down. Dallas is just 1-10 SU in games Tony Romo doesn’t start. I’ll show you some numbers later that suggests the Packers’ defense is actually graded higher despite allowing more yards per game.
The Cowboys’ defense came up big for the second straight road game. After limiting the Miami Dolphins to just 14 points and 210 yards of total offense, the Cowboys held the Redskins to 16 points and 266 total yards. In the middle, was the meltdown to the Panthers on Thanksgiving Day. Dallas will bring in the league’s 15th ranked scoring defense, allowing 23 points per game. The Packers scoring defense is ranked 6th, allowing just 19.6 points per game. On offense, the Packers have struggled throughout the second half of the season. Most teams are stacking the box and forcing Aaron Rodgers to throw to a bunch of receivers he hasn’t been able to develop any chemistry with. Sean Lee and Rolando McClain are two of the better linebackers in coverage so I would expect Eddy Lacey and James Starks to get a lot of work in this game. Lacy had over 100 rushing yards in back-to-back games, but had just four yards on five carries after missing curfew in last week’s hail-marry win.
This is a big revenge game for the Cowboys, but with Tony Romo OUT it becomes less meaningful. The Packers defeated the Cowboys 26-21 as 5.5-point home chalk in last year’s playoffs. Green Bay outgained Dallas 416-316. You all remember the catch that wasn’t a catch by Dez Bryant at the goal-line. Green Bay will playing Dallas off four division games. A Packers let-down is possible, but they did show some guile in coming back to win from 20-points down. The favorite is 8-1 ATS in the last nine Cowboy games. Look for the Packers to feed Lacy early and often as Dallas has trouble with bigger-stronger backs. Lacy had 101 yards on 19 carries in the Packers playoff victory last January.
Look at the NFL takeaway stats this season and you will see the top 10 all have winning records, except the New York Giants. Green Bay is plus +6 in turnover differential (5th) while the Cowboys are minus -14 (32). Huge advantage for the home team as they are ranked 27 spots higher. Turnovers are difficult to predict, but the Cowboys are clearly the worst team at creating turnovers. They are ranked dead last in interceptions and Rodgers normally doesn’t throw any at home. With three extra days to prepare, I have a feeling the Packers’ offense will look much better than in previous games. The Packers’ defense is ranked No. 11, while the Cowboys’ defense is ranked No. 18 according to Football Outsiders. It’s measures a teams defense using many factors, not just yards and points allowed.
The Packers have lost their last two home games both SU and ATS, despite outgaining Chicago and Detroit by 160 yards. The home team is 9-3 ATS in the last 12 meetings. Green Bay is 7-0 SU and 4-3 ATS as home favorites of 3.5 to 7 points over the last three seasons. Dallas is 3-7 SU and 3-7 ATS against conference foes this season. Green Bay is 6-3 SU and 6-3 ATS against conference opponents this season, and 27-6 SU at home over the last three seasons.
Jeff’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Green Bay Packers -7
The Cowboys will be playing its second straight road game and the weather conditions will not be ideal. Not to mention, the Cowboys are coming off a short week having just defeated an NFC East rival on Monday Night Football. Green Bay is coming off a mini-Bye and should be well-rested having played last Thursday. Extra rest for NFL teams is huge this time of year. The Packers are much more accustom to what the forecast is calling for. Showers with temps in the upper 30’s, and breezy with 15 MPH winds. I can see Matt Cassel committing a few fumbles in this game. Not sold on his skill-set in sub-par weather conditions. Aaron Rodgers can make all the throws rain or shine. I like the Packers at minus 7 or less.
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