Dallas Cowboys (9-4 SU, 7-6 ATS) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (9-4 SU, 8-5 ATS)
NFL Week 15
Date and Time: Sunday, December 14, 2014, 8:30 pm EST
Where: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pa.
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Dal +3.5/Phil -3.5
Over/Under Total: 55.5
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The Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles face a pretty easy proposition coming into their Sunday Night Football in America showdown game at Lincoln Financial Field in primetime on NBC to finish off the NFLs week 15 action win and youll likely win the NFC East title; but lose and you may just find yourself watching the NFC playoffs on the couch at home.
With both teams currently tied at 9-4 and with a full five-game lead on the rest of the teams in the division, one thing is for sure and thats the fact that one of these two franchises will win the NFC East title. But there should be a little heightened sense of urgency in Dallas, as they were embarrassed by the Eagles in the Cowboys annual showcase game on Thanksgiving just a few short weeks ago, 33-10, so the stakes are certainly higher in and around Dallas this week as they prepare to play the biggest game of them all in the Jerry Jones-Jason Garrett era in Texas.
Dallas will have an extra few days to prepare as well, because they looked strong in a Thursday Night primetime game leading up into Eagle-week, destroying the Chicago Bears at home in Soldier Field, 41-28. The score looks a lot closer then the game actually was, but a couple of late Bears scores in mop-up time in the fourth seems to have gotten the Cowboys back on track and ready for a showdown against the team everyone in Dallas loves the hate the Eagles.
Philly prepared for this weeks showdown by eating a huge slice of humble pie fed to them by the Seattle Seahawks, as the high-flying Chip Kelly-led Eagles offense was held to under 150 total yards and just nine first downs in a, 24-14, loss at home at the Linc. As the weeks continue to pile up, QB Mark Sanchez is starting to look more and more like the Sanchez we grew to know in New York, a scary thought for the friendly fans in and around Philly to dwell on as they prepare for their biggest game under Kelly in his tenure with the Eagles.
None of this has been lost on the oddsmakers and sportsbook managers out in Las Vegas this week, as they dropped a do-nothing make the home team Philly 3-point favorites to open the point spread on Sunday night approach, in order to let the early betting market figure out where the number should fall ultimately. By mid-week after the early steam had finally cleared, the current number shows the Eagles as 3.5-point favorites at a few books, even though a bunch of the expert or sharp money is riding on the side of the Eagles right now.
The over/under total opened at 55 and is still sitting at that same number at a bunch of sportsbooks. But as is always the case with totals, if you look hard enough you can find a few 55.5 and even a few 56s at some of the offshore sportsbooks on the Web, so moving the total in the direction you want by a point can be done if so desired.
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Lets face it, the NFL is a quarterbacks league and this game on Sunday between Sanchez and Tony Romo can be used as exhibit A in proceedings as to why it is that way. A ton has been made about how Kelly has made Sanchez relevant as a QB in the league again, because hes simplified things and hasnt asked him to do too much in the Eagles scheme. But the Seahawks showed everyone the blueprint on how to beat him again last week, and that is take away the running game and make Sanchez have to throw it downfield to beat you. Dallas doesnt have nowhere near the kind of speed or secondary on defense that the Seahawks have (Cowboys are 22nd overall, 25th versus the pass), but you can bet your ass theyve had the video on a constant running loop in the coachs offices all week.
The Eagles have gone as far as to list Nick Foles as questionable for the game on Sunday, and its possible, but its probably more gamesmanship than reality. Even if Foles is able to suit up and play, the rust he will have after not playing for six weeks will be thick and brown, and it would take monster testicular fortitude for Kelly to take that risk even though some Eagles fans would probably rather take their shot with Foles at 80 percent than a 100 percent Dirty Sanchez (me included).
This will also be a huge game for Romo too. The knock against Romo is he cant win big games, and hasnt won big games over the course of his career, and putting forth a solid, mistake-free game on Sunday against the hated Eagles will go a long way toward writing his legacy as a Cowboys starter at QB. If I was on the Cowboys coaching staff I wouldnt let Romo have anything to do with this game other than hand the ball to Demarco Murray. Give Murray the ball 40 times behind that offensive line full of first round draft picks and just try and grind the Eagles down to nothing, especially since the Eagles run defense (18th 114 ypg) isnt even in the upper half of the league and the fact that they just came off a game where Seattle and Beast-mode carried the ball 46 times against them.
There are some encouraging betting trends that could help push you over the edge if youre considering a wager on the Cowboys. Not only is Dallas 5-1 ATS on the road this season, but the road team in this series is also a solid 5-1 ATS as well. Dallas is also 4-1 ATS in their last five trips to the Linc, and the underdog is a perfect 4-0 ATS during the tenure of Kelly as the Eagles coach. The under also has some good trend numbers worth crunching, as the under is 6-2 in the last eight overall games in the series and also 4-1 in the last five games played in Philly.
Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: This one is extremely hard for me to pick a side. For the life of me, I just cant force myself to back a Sanchez-led team. Is he playing better then he did as a Jet? Yes, but better than God-awful is still enough to make me back away from the window with a tight grip on my wallet. My hatred for Dallas, their self-proclaimed Americas team B.S. and that ass-clown Jerry Jones also makes me pause and reflect with a no I just cant approach toward them in this game as well. So Im going to pass on this game, with maybe just a token play on the under of 55.5, hoping that Sanchez plays like the Sanchez I know he is and the Cowboys take my advice and run Murray into the ground and milk the clock keeping the ball away from Kelly and the Eagles. Im taking the under of 55.5.