Dallas Cowboys (6-3 SU, 5-4 ATS) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-8 SU, 2-6-1 ATS)
NFL Week 10
Date and Time: Sunday, November 9, 2014 at 1:00PM EST
Where: Wembley Stadium, London, England
by Scott, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Off
Over/Under Total: Off
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On Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys and Jacksonville Jaguars make the long trip to London, England, as the two teams will play at Wembley Stadium. After a 6-1 start, the Cowboys have dropped consecutive games and hope to get back on the right track against the lowly 1-8 Jaguars, who lost a 33-23 game at Cincinnati on Sunday. Both teams will go into the bye week following this game.
With Dallas, the question comes down to Tony Romo and whether or not he will play. He was a game-time decision last week against the Cardinals, so one might think he would be a go this week, but as of press time, no one knows for sure. For a guy suffering a back problem, you wonder how he can handle a long flight, not to mention the rigors of an NFL game. In relief for Romo in Dallas loss to Arizona, Brandon Weeden was not so good, going 18-for-33 for 183 yards, a TD throw, and 2 picks.
Itll be interesting to see how the Cowboys approach this mini-crisis. A few weeks ago, they were flying high. Now, theyve lost 2 straight and need to right the ship before they squander all that great progress they made. With this game against a 1-win Jaguars team and a bye week coming next, they will have time to rest their bones, but they really need this one.
Jacksonville is hanging in there the best they can amidst difficult conditions. At 1-8, the goals are somewhat unclear, other than to find something that gives them some hope or positive momentum. Truth be told, they have been getting some better results lately. In their past 5 games, the only really bad result was an 14-point loss against Miami. During that stretch, they lost to the Steelers by 8 and to the Titans by 2, beat Cleveland by 18, and lost to the Bengals by 10 last week. Theyre at least not getting wiped off the face of the earth and when talking about a 1-8 team, those are the kinds of things you look at when searching for the elusive silver lining.
Jacksonville isnt really that awful in most areas. Theyre just solidly below-average in just about every area. But unlike some bad teams, you can actually see some things starting to form–things that could be used in the future if Jacksonville ever snaps out of this funk. Blake Bortles has been given a herculean task of running this offense and is having a lot of the typical rookie growing pains you would expect. But he is able to make good use of a young and growing pass-catching corps, featuring rookies Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, both of whom are nearing 500 yards receiving. And in recent weeks, RB Denard Robinson, the former Wolverines QB, has been making his presence felt on the ground, with 329 yards rushing in the last 3 games.
Defensively, Jacksonville can be somewhat stout. Against the more dynamic offenses they have faced, however, the results have not been so flattering. Against Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Tennessee, they were fairly resilient. But in giving up 34 to Philly, 41 to Washington, 44 to Indy, and 33 to San Diego and Cincinnati, the Jaguars defense was poor both against the run and pass. And being without DE Andre Branch and CB Aaron Colvin hasnt helped. either. But still, in their last 5 games, they have allowed just under 20 points per game, as opposed to allowing an average of 38 points per game in their first four games.
Even if the Cowboys are without Romo, look for a heavy dose of DeMarco Murray, who is at 1133 yards rushing through 9 games. Sure, he coughs up the rock more than youd like to see, but its quite amazing to have a 300-yard lead in the rushing title at the midseason point, as Murray does. And with Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, and TE Jason Witten in the passing game, there are some weapons that even Weeden should be able to put to use.
Jacksonville is second-last in turnover margin and will need to play a mistake-free game to have a chance in London. They will also be playing a Dallas team that will be fighting to avoid going to 6-4, which would be a painful pill to swallow after a 6-1 start that had people saying the Cowboys were back. In other words, Jacksonville is usually a team where the opponent can be expected to be looking past them a bit. But with Dallas coming off a 2-game losing streak, the Jags may not benefit from such sentiment this weekend.
As of press time, there is no definite word on Romo. Hes been practicing, but may remain a game-time decision. Obviously, his presence on the field is a major determinant, being that the Cowboys offense is not the same in the hands of Brandon Weeden. Lets look at the two different possibilities:
If Romo Starts: Obviously, this would be a big boost to the Dallas offense. Even if he were a bit compromised due to his back issues, its easy to picture this offense having their way with the Jaguars defense. The offense would be allowed to shine, with its full cast of playmakers being brought into the fold. But at the same time, he may be one good hit away from Weeden being put in there anyway. With a bye week coming up and the Jaguars viewed as weak opponents, its not likely they will give Romo that long of a leash.
If Weeden Starts: It really does put a different light on the Dallas offense, as evidenced by how out-of-sorts they looked against Arizona last week. Weeden has seen limited time running this offense. The start last week was a good chance for him to get acclimated and he would be facing an easier D to exploit. But when betting on the Cowboys with Weeden starting, its sort of like youre not even betting on the Cowboys. Needless to say, the identity of the man under center is a major concern.
If Romo starts, I see Dallas coming out ahead by a double-digit margin. If not, it could be a slog where the Cowboys scrape by with a win.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: As of press time, there is no point spread available on the game.