Dallas Cowboys (8-4) +3, 41.5 O/U at Pittsburgh Steelers (9-3)
Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, P.A., 4:15PM Eastern, Sunday (Week 14)
By Jay Horne of Predictem.com
The Dallas Cowboys are back in the middle of the playoff picture with the return of Tony Romo. The Cowboys have won two straight games and they travel to Heinz Field to do battle with Pittsburgh Steelers. Pittsburgh is a game out in front of the AFC North over the Baltimore Ravens and is trying to hold their ground. This game is shaping out to be very important for both teams. Dallas has a very tough stretch of games coming forth and each win contributes big to their postseason hopes. Pittsburgh would love to stay out front and clinch the division in the coming weeks.
The Steelers have knocked off three straight wins including a pounding last week over the New England Patriots 33-10. Pittsburgh is led by their outstanding defense which is 2nd to none in the NFL. The Pittsburgh defense ranks 1st in the NFL in every major category. The Steelers have held opposing teams to a mere 14 points per game this season and only 238 yards of total offense placing them the best in the NFL in both categories. Pittsburgh rush defense and pass defense both rank 1st in the NFL as well holding teams 71 yards on the ground and 166 yards through the air. Pittsburgh defense will have another tough challenge this weekend when the Cowboys bring a stout offense into town.
Dallas Cowboys seem to be back rolling again since Tony Romo returned from his broken finger on his throwing hand. The Cowboys have won two straight games over mediocre opponents and will get a really good test this weekend. Last week on Thanksgiving Thursday, Romo went 22 for 34 with 331 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception in the Cowboys 34-9 victory over the Seahawks. Romo seems to be getting settled back into the offense after missing 3 straight weeks with that broken finger. The Cowboys offense is perhaps back in full swing as well. In both of Romos two games back, the Cowboys have scored at least 34 points in each of those games. Dallas hopes the offense can stay clicking this weekend when they take on the best defense in the NFL.
Pittsburgh offense has contributed to 22.4 points per game this season while putting together 308 yards of total offense per game. On paper those numbers may not look very impressive, but they have been plenty strong enough on offense to dominate teams this season. Pittsburgh has won by 17 or more points in 6 of there 9 wins this season and will look to continue their controlling ways. The Steelers would love to deliver a 4th straight victory over the Cowboys so they can focus on a division showdown with the Baltimore Ravens who trail them by one game next week.
Dallas Cowboys have to feel a sense of urgency heading into this weeks game. Despite the fact they have won 2 straight this game has to have that must win feel when considering their postseason hopes. The Cowboys are averaging 25 points per game this season along with 356 yards of total offense. Dallas will need those kinds of numbers again this weekend. One thing that many people have not realized in recent weeks is the play of the Dallas defense. The Cowboys were extremely criticized early this season for not having a defense that could take them far. In the last 5 games, the Cowboys have only allowed 17 points per game and have held 3 solid teams to 10 points or less. Dallas emerging defense has given the offense some much needed peace of mind and the entire team looks more confident. Dallas will need a good performance on both sides of the ball if they plan on knocking off the Steelers on the road this weekend.
The early betting line has the Pittsburgh Steelers as the favorite by a field goal at -3 over the Cowboys. The early betting public has been pretty indecisive when betting on this contest ATS. Right now the public is split nearly 50/50 ATS for the game with no clear favorite. The over/under for the contest has been posted at 41.5 for the game while many early bettors are jumping on the over total. If you would like to take a bet on the moneyline, Dallas is listed at +135 and Pittsburgh at -155.
Pittsburgh is led on offense by QB Ben Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger has completed 60% on the year for 2412 yards with 13 touchdowns and nearly equal that in interceptions at 12 on the year. Roethlisberger will need to focus on controlling the football in this big game this Sunday. WR Heinz Ward is the go to guy on offense. Ward is a playmaker that defenses must stay focused on. Ward has caught 59 passes for 755 yards and 6 touchdowns this season. Keep an eye on Ward if things get close because he is one of the most clutch players in the NFL.
The Cowboys QB Tony Romo has completed 64% of his passes for 2559 yards and 21 touchdowns. Romo also has 8 picks this season. Romo has two favorite targets in TE Jason Witten and WR Terrell Owens. Owens is the well-known wide receiver for his off the field antics but has really produced since becoming a Cowboy in recent seasons. Owens has 52 catches for 816 yards with 8 touchdowns. Witten is an equally important asset to the Dallas offensive attack with 58 catches for 709 yards and 3 touchdowns. It will be interesting to see if Dallas can continue their offensive success against the number 1 ranked Steelers defense.
Dallas is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 game while going on the over total in 6 of their last 9 games. The Cowboys have not played that well on the road with a 3-6 ATS mark in their last 9 on the road. Pittsburgh is a measly 1-4 ATS in their last 5 contest at home. The Steelers have also gone on the over total in 11 of their last 16 games. The last meeting between these two teams came in 2004 with a 24-20 victory for the Steelers.
Jays Pick: I like Pittsburgh and the points in this one since the Cowboys have yet to win a really big game this year. I think that trend continues. Take Pittsburgh -3.