For the second year in a row the NFC East title comes down to the final game of the season, and for the second year in a row the Dallas Cowboys (8-7) are the road team after losing to the eventual Super Bowl champion Giants last year. This time around, the Cowboys visit Robert Griffin III and the red-hot Washington Redskins (9-6) who are winners of six straight. Washington is a 3-point favorite at home (at odds of -125) with the total set at 48½.
COWBOYS-REDSKINS WEEK 17 BETTING LINE:
OPEN: REDSKINS -3.5 | CURRENT: REDSKINS -3 | O/U: 49
1. Why Dallas will cover the spread: Dallas will cover this spread if it does a better job of stopping the run. And we are not only talking about containing RG3, but also running back Alfred Morris. The Cowboys did a reasonable job of containing Griffin in a 38-31 Thanksgiving Day loss, as he rushed for only 29 yards on seven carries, but Morris ran for 113 yards. The Cowboys need to stop both and take their chances with Griffin throwing over 30 passes in this game. A second key for Dallas is getting its own running back Demarco Murray on track after he ran for only 40 yards vs. the Saints. He has a chance to get going vs. a Washington defense allowing 4.6 yards per rush over the last three weeks, but then again, he also figured to have a good game vs. the worst rushing defense in the NFL last week.
2. Why Washington will cover the spread: The Redskins will cover this spread if they can contain the Tony Romo/Dez Bryant connection. Romo had 441 passing yards in the Thanksgiving Day game with Bryant on the receiving end of 145 of them, and then last week against the Saints, Romo threw for 416 and Bryant had a whopping 224 receiving. The Redskins have improved against the pass, allowing 242.3 passing yards per game on 7.0 yards per attempt the last three weeks compared to a terrible 287.7 passing yards on 7.2 yards per attempt for the season.
3. Total Talk: So what happens when neither team totally achieve it goals? Well in this case, you get a shootout and a rather safe ‘over’. The Dallas rushing defense is not getting any better so we do not see the Cowboys stopping Morris too much. That should allow Griffin to continue his excellent rookie season, both with his arm and with outside runs around the edge. On the other side, the Washington defense has looked better but we still think Romo will be able to attack the secondary.
The Cowboys are now up to third in the NFL in passing offense at 302.2 yards per game, and Romo has averaged 324.3 yards the last three weeks. If not for past failures in identical situations such as this, I’d be “All-In” on Romo and the Cowboys to pull the upset. I much prefer the ‘over’ and do expect an exciting game that determines the NFC East winner.
4. Betting Trends for Cowboys/Redskins: The ‘over’ is 5-0 in the Cowboys’ last five games after gaining less than 90 rushing yards in their previous game. The ‘over’ is 6-1 in the Redskins’ last seven games after allowing more than 350 total yards in their previous game.
Dallas 31 – Washington 30