2008 Season NFL Football Past Picks
December 20, 2008
Baltimore at Dallas
Saturday 12/20 08:15 PM Eastern
4 units on Baltimore +6 (-110) (risk 4 to return 4) RESULT: WIN
A crucial inter-conference matchup takes place in Dallas when the 9-5 Ravens visit the 9-5 Cowboys with Wildcard hopes on the line. The Ravens have really exerted themselves on the defensive side of the ball as they make their playoff run. This is a team that has held 10 of 14 opponents on the season to an amazing 13 points or less. They have allowed a total of just three TDs in their last four games. And one of those was a controversial game-ending TD by Pittsburgh, who they otherwise held out of the end zone the entire game. The defense has allowed just two QBs to throw for more than one TD pass against them the entire season. In the last five weeks they have allowed just four TD passes while they have generated eight INTs. They have only allowed one QB since mid-October to pass for 250+ yards, and in that game Sage Rosenfels also threw four INTs. There has not been a single QB to reach the 300-yard mark on the Ravens the entire season. Why so much focus on QBs? Because as Romo goes, so do the Cowboys. If Romo struggles in this game, it will be hard for Dallas to win. It hasn't been just the defense for Baltimore as Joe Flacco has stabilized what was prior to this season, a futile offense without a leader taking snaps. Flacco has led the offense to 27.4 points per game average in his last nine games. Tony Romo is less than 100% and will have his hands full throwing in unfavorable down and distance situations as I don't think the Cowboys will be moving the chains on the ground against the #1 run-stop unit. The Dallas defense has stepped up and over the last two games, holding Pittsburgh and the Giants running back tandems to 119 yards on 34 carries. The Cowboys are coming off two straight games where they had to bring it mentally, physically, and emotionally, and that energy may have peaked last week against the Giants. The Dallas secondary is banged up, but the high emotional peak the last two weeks has hidden that fact. And to their credit, they stepped up and won games. But can they do it for a third consecutive week? As pointed out, the Ravens defense has done it all season long, and if they hold Dallas down like they have everyone else over the last four weeks then this should be aclose game. Getting more than a FG in this one looms very large, especially in a game that the Ravens truly have a good chance of winning. I'll back the Ravens with the points here.