New Orleans Saints (1-2 SU, 1-2 ATS) vs. Dallas Cowboys (2-1 SU, 2-1 ATS)
NFL Week 4
Date and Time: September 28, @ 5:25 PM E
Where: AT&T Stadium
by Jeff Hochman, Pro Handicapper, JHSportsline.com
Point Spread: N.O. -3/DAL +3
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The New Orleans Saints will try to win consecutive games for the first time this season, when they travel to AT&T Stadium in a rematch of last year’s blowout win. Dallas has won two straight after defeating the St. Louis Rams 34-31 as 1.-point road chalk. The Cowboys fell behind 21-0 early and looked very sloppy on both sides of the ball. Dallas matched its biggest comeback in team history. They also rallied from a 21-point deficit in 1984 against the Saints and 1999 against Washington. Tony Romo has 21 comeback victories in the fourth quarter or overtime, a franchise best. Dallas was outgained by 108 yards and their pass defense gave up 327 yards to a guy named Austin Davis. The Saints defeated the Minnesota Vikings 20-9 as 10-point home favorites. They outgained the Vikings by 149 yards in their first win of the season. The Saints are 2-1 ITS (in the stats) this season while the Cowboys are 2-1 ITS as well. The eye test tells me that the 1-2 Saints are a better football team right now than the 2-1 Cowboys. New Orleans has two losses by a combined five points and could easily be undefeated.
We all know this is a big revenge game for the home team. In case you missed it last year, the Saints put a whooping on Dallas in a big way. The Saints clobbered Dallas 49-17 as 6-point home chalk on November 10, 2013. The Saints outgained the Cowboys 625-193 and accumulated 40 first downs. Dallas had just nine First downs. That is not a misprint. The entire Cowboys organization has been waiting for this game after being humiliated last year. Last week, the Cowboys were lucky to win and didn’t get caught looking ahead to this rematch. The key for Dallas in this game will be DeMarco Murray. Murray has three straight games with at least 100 rushing yards, after rushing for exactly 100 yards on 23 carries in last week’s victory. If the Cowboys are successful on the ground, it will chew up the clock and shorten the game. Dallas should commit to running early and often. The fewer possessions you allow Drew Brees and company to have, the better chance you have to win. Murray gained 89 yards on 16 carries in last year’s loss. I would feed him the rock at least 25 times. He’s that good. Tony Romo was 10-of-24 for 128 yards and one touchdown. He surly can’t have that bad of a performance again! Romo currently has the fourth-best active career QB rating at 95.6. He’s still shaking off the rust from off-season back surgery. That’s another good reason to keep running the ball.
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If I know one thing from handicapping the NFL for over 20 years, it’s that teams playing with 30 or more points revenge, usually play a much closer game the next time they meet. Dallas is running a new offense and defense than what they showed against New Orleans last season. The schemes and play-calling are completing different. This should favor the home team. I am not saying the Saints will be completely shut down, but Dallas should do a better job of holding the Saints to field goals in the red zone. The Cowboys will bring in the better defense despite being “nicked” up at linebacker. Hopefully, Rolando McClain will be able to play for Dallas. He was the best linebacker in the Cowboys first two games. They need McClain along with Anthony Spencer, who are both listed as questionable. NFL home underdogs that bring in the better defense are always top wise guys selections. It’s too early to rely just on that angle alone. The bigger issue is the 49-17 thumping the Cowboys experienced at the hands of these Saints. The fans in Dallas need to make some noise when the Saints are on offense. Dallas fans are the worst at making noise for whatever reason. It’s mind boggling to me that the Cowboys don’t have a more significant home field advantage. I mean the place is Ginormous, and they should be able to make as much noise as the 12th man in Seattle.
The Cowboys are just 9-8 SU and 6-11 ATS at home over the last three seasons. That’s not good enough. The Saints are just 7-13 SU and 7-13 ATS on the road over the last three seasons. New Orleans has done most of it’s winning at home. The Saints are 4-2 SU and 4-2 ATS against NFC East foes of late. Dallas is just 2-3 SU and 1-4 ATS versus the NFC South.
The Saints are 7-2 ATS in their last 9 meetings. The underdog is 8-1 ATS in their last 9 meetings. Lets not forget that the Underdog is 19-5 ATS in the last 24 Dallas Cowboy games.
Jeff’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Dallas Cowboys +3
I don’t like the fact that Dallas was outgained by 108 yards in last week’s win. If the Cowboys and Saints played a tight game last season, I would back the road team. Dallas should be motivated enough from what happened last year to keep this one very close. A Saints win by exactly 3 points would not shock me. Light play on the home underdog.