San Francisco 49ers (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Dallas Cowboys (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
NFL Week 1
Date and Time: September 7th, @ 4:25PM EST
Where: AT&T Stadium
TV: FOX, Direct TV
by Jeff Hochman, Pro Handicapper, JHSportsline.com
Point Spread: SF -5.5/Dal +5.5
Over/Under Total: 50
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The San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys meet for the first time since 2011, in this opening week late afternoon match-up. Dallas has won the past three but that dates back to 2005. This line opened at SF -3.5 and has since been bet up to the current line of -5.5. I see a few 6’s out there right now. I would not be shocked if you see 6.5 or even 7 by game time. The outlook for these two teams is like apples and oranges. The 49ers have been one miscue away from reaching the Super Bowl for three straight years. Most experts think they have nothing left in the tank and will struggle to reach 10 wins this season. I don’t see it. They have too much talent at the skill positions and they have a very smart head coach. Dallas has finished at 8-8 for three consecutive seasons. They will be lucky to reach that mark in 2014-15. I have them winning 7 games this season. Dallas might be a great ATS sleeper team this year as they will be underdogs quite often.
Dallas has the potential to be a Top 5 offense. Dallas also has the potential to be the worst defense in the history of the NFL. They have already suffered numerous key injuries on defense, including one of the best middle linebackers (Sean Lee) in the NFL. The five-year pro has led Dallas in tackles three out of the past four years. I said it last year, that the hire of Monte Kniffen to run the defense is a mistake. I was right as Dallas allowed the third most yards in NFL history. The game has passed him by. New defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli should be able to scheme much better than his predecessor. Still, the Cowboys lack of veteran leadership on defense and overall skill-set will cost the Cowboys in the 4th quarter. If the offensive line doesn’t improve from what they showed in the preseason, it’s going to be a very long season in Big D. The O’line is regarded as one of the best lines in all of football. I haven’t seen it yet. Having Tony Romo play for a full game should help with his elusiveness in the pocket and scrambling ability.The Cowboys are still learning the nuances of Scott Linehan’s offense. Coming over from the Lions, we know Linehan loves to throw the ball early and often. Dallas might want to run the ball to shorten the amount of times its defense has to take the field. The Cowboys allowed 11 QB sacks in four preseason games. Not good. The Cowboys defense only produced 5 sacks the entire preseason. Not good. Only two teams allowed more yards than Dallas this preseason. Look for the Cowboys defense to be improved a tad, but will still be in the bottom third at season’s end. First round draft pick Demarcus Lawrence could be a nice shot in the arm on the defensive line by Week 7. That would be best case scenario. He is feeling better after surgery to repair a broken foot, but he is still on crutches and will most likely return on Nov. 2 against Arizona.
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The Cowboys will go into the San Francisco game with starting defensive tackle Henry Melton and cornerback Morris Claiborne not taking a preseason snap. Claiborne, who will start with Orlando Scandrick missing the first four games because of a suspension, has not played in a preseason game the last two seasons. A shoulder injury limited his work the last two-plus weeks of the preseason. Cornerback Brandon Carr saw less than 30 snaps in the preseason, including only 12 Thursday, after missing the first two exhibition games following the death of his mother. Dallas finished the preseason going 0-4, with a net yard differential of minus - 468. The 49ers lost their first two games but have looked better in winning two straight. They had a net yard differential of minus -57. The 49ers won its dress rehearsal game 21-7 as 5.5-point home chalk. They outgained San Diego by 47 yards. Dallas lost its dress rehearsal 25-20 as 5.5-point dogs. The Dolphins outgained Dallas by a whopping 239 yards. It was the only game Dallas covered this preseason, by 1/2 point.
It wasn’t all good news for the 49ers. Their first-team defense was shredded by Chargers QB Philip Rivers, who completed 9 of 10 passes for 85 yards and one touchdown. Special teams comes into play more often than not. Dallas by far has the worst special teams in terms of kick coverage and tackling. The 49ers have one of the best special teams units for three straight seasons. The rules more than ever favor passing attacks and you are going to see a lot of high-scoring games until the weather turns colder. The 49ers are going to try to establish the run early against a very soft front seven. This should create some long play-action passes for the 49ers. Even though Demarco Murray did not play much in the preseason, he should be good for at least 20-25 touches in this game. I know the Cowboys want to run early in this game. Dallas will most likely want to spread the 49ers defense out, which should help create some nice one-on-one match-ups.There are some holes in the 49ers defense especially since Aldon Smith has just been suspended 9 games as I write this.This news is breaking right now.
For all you trend lovers I have some good ones. San Francisco is 13-5 straight up & 12-6 against the spread as favorites of 3.5 to 9.5 points of late. The 49ers are 13-6 SU & 13-5-1 ATS in road games since 2011. Dallas is 5-10 SU & 10-5 ATS as underdogs since 2011. The Cowboys are 8-4 ATS as home favorites of 3.5 to 7 points since 2011. Dallas is 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games in Week 1. The Over is 6-0 in the last 6 meetings.
The total of 50 is the highest total Ever between these two teams.
Jeff’sPick to Cover the Point Spread:Dallas Cowboys +5.5 & Under 50
The public keeps pounding the road team by a tune of 84%. For every 10 bets the Over is being played nine times. I would wait until the line goes to 6.5 or 7. The total may rise slightly. There are not many games you will want to back the Cowboys this season. This may be the only one. Both squads have extra time to prepare, and teams have no clue what the Cowboys will do on defense with Rod Marinelli now running the stop unit. No game film to look at yet. Too many points to give an offense that can definitely score in bunches. The Over looks too easy, so I will take the Under. Temps will be in the mid to upper 90’s. That should favor a game more in the 45 to 48 point range.