Dallas Cowboys (9-6) +1, 42.5 O/U at Philadelphia Eagles (8-6-1)
-1, 42.5 O/U, Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pa., 4:15 PM
Eastern, Sunday, FOX
by Badger of Predictem.com
Even before the season started you just knew the Dallas Cowboys trip to Lincoln Financial Field to play the Philadelphia Eagles in the
regular season finale was going to be a game of major importance.
Well it is, and the folks at the Fox network will be loving the
ratings for this one as both teams face must-win scenarios in week 17 in order
to make the playoffs.
Both teams come into the showdown off of the heels of disappointing and demoralizing defeats. Both could have helped their playoff cause
as well, but both failed to step up to the task last week.
The Cowboys sit in a better position than the Eagles, but if they
could have beaten the Baltimore Ravens on last Thursday night theyd
already be in the second season. Instead, the Cowboys defense gave up
265 yards rushing to the Ravens, 159 of them on two backbreaking
touchdown runs in the fourth quarter as they went on to lose, 33-24.
The Eagles laid an even bigger dud on Sunday versus the NFC East
rival Washington Redskins. The Eagles and head coach Andy Reid went
back to their pass-first philosophy on offense (46 passes to 16
runs), and it caused the offense to sputter, knock and ping to the
tune of a 10-3 loss to the Skins where they only had 275 yards of
Now its all on the line in the finale. The Cowboys are in if they
win, while the Eagles need to win and have the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
and Chicago Bears lose on Sunday to get the final NFC wild card spot.
Oddsmaker opened the game with Philadelphia as slim 1-point
favorites at home, and the number has only gone up the hook to 1.5-
points at most books. However, there are a few sportsbooks with
point spreads in opposite directions, as the Las Vegas Hilton has
the Eagles as 2-point favorites, while 5Dimes.com has the game listed
as a pick-em. All of that movement in opposite directions proves that
nobody really knows how to call this game, and the books are moving
the number in whatever direction they need to in order to balance the
The over/under total opened at 43.5 and is down a full point to 42.5
after early betting at the window. There is a threat of bad weather
in Philly on Sunday as well, so that might have some affect on the
total too. The moneyline shows the Eagles as slim -121 favorites,
with the Cowboys as +111 underdogs.
This game features two top-10 offenses going head-to-head against two top-10 defenses, so getting a solid feel for how it will play out will be that much tougher.
The Cowboys offense is ranked 9th overall (347.6 ypg), but they were made one-dimensional by the Ravens due to the lack of their best running back, Marion Barber. Barber is battling a turf toe injury and
only had two carries for 0 yards Sunday. Rookie Tashard Choice has
filled in admirably (90 yards, TD on Sunday), but Barber is the tough
runner that wears down defenses in the second half and the Cowboys
havent been able to control the clock with out him.
The Eagles offense is ranked 8th in the league (353.7 ypg), but they
too are one-dimensional at times as they rank 6th in passing (249.4
ypg) but only 22nd in rushing (104.3 ypg). As mentioned, Reid seems
to rely on quarterback Donovan McNabb to throw the ball so much that
he forgets he has a game-breaker in Brian Westbrook in the backfield.
What makes this game so interesting is that both teams strength on
offense, the passing game, plays directly into the hands and the
strength of both teams defenses. The Eagles own the leagues 2nd-
ranked pass defense at 180.1 yards per game allowed, while the
Cowboys lead the league in sacks (58) and allow just 189.9 yards per
game in the air (4th). So a solid running game is of even more
importance this week, but the Cowboys might not have their horse to
carry it and the Eagles might not have the sense to stick with it
The Cowboys won this years earlier matchup between the two in a 41-37 shootout on Monday Night Football back in week two. Philly
holds a slight 6-4 edge in their last 10 head-to-head meetings, both
straight up and against the spread. The Eagles have also covered in
two straight and four of the last five games overall, but the only
game they didnt cover was last years 38-17 loss to the Cowboys at
the Linc in November.
Cowboy fans will surely love the fact that they are the underdog in this one, albeit by a slim number, because the underdog is a rock-
solid 7-1 ATS in the last eight meetings. That betting trend flies in
the face of the Cowboys recent history though, as they have tanked
down the stretch the past few years with just a 1-8 ATS record in
their last nine games in December.
The under also looks like a solid trend as well, as the Eagles have
come in under the total in six of their last nine home games overall
and in six of their last eight regular season finales. The Cowboys
also have come in under the total in six of their last eight week 17
Badgers Pick: I like the Eagles here for a few reasons. Right now, they have the better runner (Westbrook over Choice). And until Romo
proves he can win a big game, I have to give McNabb the edge at QB
as well. Go to 5Dimes.com t get the game as a pick-em, then take the
Eagles. Even if you have to give a point or point and the hook, Im
still taking the Eagles here.