The Atlanta Falcons remained perfect at 7-0 by going into Philadelphia last week in a game where both teams were coming off of a bye and handing Andy Reid his first loss ever off a bye 30-17. The Cowboys meanwhile overcame a 23-0 deficit vs. the first place Giants to take the lead 24-23, only to ultimately fall 29-24 to drop to 3-4 for the season.
Atlanta is -4 at home to remain unbeaten with the total set at 47½.
1. Why Dallas will cover the spread: The Cowboys will cover this spread and have an excellent chance of winning outright if they do not turn the ball over. Dallas actually outgained the Giants by 141 yards last week, but it understandably could not overcome six turnovers. And yet, despite all of those mistakes, it still temporarily looked like the Cowboys had miraculously won the game on a touchdown pass to Dez Bryant in the back of the end zone in the final seconds, but the touchdown call was overturned when replays showed his hand hit out of bounds before the rest of his body landed in the end zone.
The Cowboys are fully capable of moving the ball on the 20th-ranked Atlanta defense, especially on the ground where the Falcons rank second to last allowing an incredulous 5.1 yards per carry. It would help to have running back DeMarco Murray back, but even back-up Felix Jones can be successful vs. this run defense, setting up big things for Romo through the air later on.
2. Why Atlanta will cover the spread: The key to an Atlanta cover is the running game on both sides of the ball. On offense, they will need to run well because Matt Ryan may not have his usual success otherwise vs. the great Dallas cornerback duo of Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr that just held Eli Manning to 192 passing yards. Michael Turner did not look good last week while requiring 24 carries to pick up 58 yards (2.4 YPC), but backup Jacquizz Rodgers picked up the slack with 60 rushing yards on just eight carries. On defense, Atlanta has to find a way to fix its run defense to prevent the Cowboys form doing practically whatever they want.
3. Total Talk: Atlanta did limit the Eagles to 92 yards on 24 carries (3.8 YPC) coming out of the bye week, and if the Falcons can duplicate that with normal preparation time here, then Romo would throw a lot of passes. If Atlanta regresses to how it has been defending the run all year, then Romo will throw less passes but will be more dangerous when he does throw with the Falcons needing to play honest defense.
Either scenario favors the ‘over’ in our opinion. As for the Atlanta offense, Rodgers may turn out to be the MVP of this game if the Falcons give him more playing time as he is a better receiver out of the backfield than Turner is. If Rogers can force the Dallas corners to cheat up, then the wide-outs have a chance to get open deep.
4. Betting Trends for COWBOYS/FALCONS: Dallas is 8-1 ATS as an underdog of +3½ or more since 2009.
Dallas 28 – Atlanta 27