2004 Season NFL Football Past Picks
November 15, 2004
This pick was released to clients on December 31, 1969 at 9:00PM ET.
Philadelphia at Dallas
Monday 11/15 09:05 PM Eastern
3 units on Dallas +7.5 (-110) (risk 3 to return 5.73) RESULT: LOSS
Things haven't been lower in Dallas (3-5 SU and ATS) for years. Bill Parcells said this week that "This is the only team I can ever remember having that I can't get to respond in the right way no matter how hard I try." Philadelphia, also has some questions, coming off a 27-3 blow-out loss to Pittsburgh to drop them to 7-1 SU and 5-3 ATS. How will Philadelphia react to this thrashing? Will they get fired up and take it out on the Cowboys or will they let doubts creep in and start to slide? Under Andy Reid, the Eagles are 12-1 in regular-season prime time games and 7-1 on Monday night. But they are laying some major points tonight. Can they win by more than a touchdown on the road in a divisional matchup? A very good question given the fact that Dallas is ranked better in both offensive yards gained and defensive yards allowed.
Philly is slowing down and they hit the skids last week. After winning their first five games by an average of 15 points per, they won two squeakers against Cleveland and Baltimore and got smashed by the Steelers. The spanking at the hands of Pittsburgh by itself doesn't tell me too much. It was an excellent matchup for Pitt they are playing really good right now. But, these three games together, do paint a picture. Philadelphia scored just 17 points and gave up 23 on average. They were 0-3 ATS in these games. They aren't the same team as they were in the first five games but I think the public is slow to admit this. Statistically I think the Eagles deserve to be about a five point favorite here - not over a touchdown. The Eagles are the better team for sure. But, look at the stats and they might surprise you. The Cowboys are ranked better in on both sides of the ball! Philly's big weakness is their defense. They are ranked 27th in the league against the run and 17th against the pass. They are worse than all but eight teams overall. Dallas is ranked 20th in defense. The Eagles have the 12th ranked offense - the Cowboys have the 10th best. The difference in records between these two teams is a result of two primary things, I believe. One - Philly punches the ball in more and keeps opposing teams out of their endzone better. Despite Dallas being ranked better in both O and D from a yardage perspective, Philly scores more points and allows fewer. I credit the Eagles coaches and players for that. The other component, though, has more to do with luck than skill. Philadelphia is +9 in turnover margin while Dallas is -12. Philadelphia has recovered 7 more of their opponent's fumbles than has Dallas while the Cowboys have lost 4 more fumbles than have the Eagles. Yes, coaching and defensive style play into these stats but luck does, too. The public tends to overreact to the final outcome of games and not look at things like turnover ratio. As a result, underdogs off a game in which they committed 3+ turnovers facing an opponent that has had 4+ games with a turnover margin of +1 or better are 49-19 ATS. That's 72%, my friends. In addition, home underdogs off 4+ games in which they forced 1 or less turnovers are 31-10 (76%) ATS.
Philly has a handful of key players that are banged up (Akers, Dawkins, Pinkston, Westbrook) but they are all listed as probable so I expect them to play. Dallas could be without recently acquired Quincy Morgan who is listed as questionable with a hamstring injury.
Philly is 6-1 ATS in their last seven Monday night games and 12-4 ATS in their last 16 road games. They step it up in prime time. But, teams facing division opponents that are higher in the standings that are off a non-conference game and have a non-conference game coming up 26-6 ATS. This is due to the fact that the lower-ranked team can be laser-focused on winning this very important divisional matchup. Also, Monday night home dogs that have been running the ball well over their past three games when facing a defense that has been poor against the run over the same time span cover the spread over eight out of ten times.
The Bottom Line
According to Sportsbook.com, 94% of sports bettors so far are on the Eagles tonight. This is one reason this line has climbed from 6.5 to 7.5. This is a big game for the Cowboys. It means more to them to the Eagles. A lot of the pain of their season can be muted tonight if they were to pull off the upset win. They'd have beaten a 7-1 team and closed to one game below .500. The Cowboys have hit rock-bottom in my opinion and there is only one direction to go. I expect them to respond here at home under the big lights. I expect them to step up for their own sake and for their coach. Bill Parcells is the best ever at winning and covering the spread against division opponents. This is a very meaningful game for Parcells and the Cowboys and we're getting amazingly good value here due to the public's perception of a big-time mismatch. The Boys find a way to keep this one close.
***Dallas +7.5 (-110) vs. Philadelphia (risk -165 to win 150)