Houston Texans (3-1) at Dallas Cowboys (3-1)
The Cowboys have greatly exceeded my expectations. By far the biggest surprise has been the play of their defense. They haven’t been good or anything, but considering the complete lack of talent they came into the season with, a lot of credit needs to be given to new defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli for turning this into an at least serviceable unit that allows the offense to do their thing. Rolando McClain has been the biggest surprise as the embattled former 1st round pick seems to have put his career back on the right track and is playing the best football of his career, but players like Sterling Moore and Tyrone Crawford have also exceeded expectations and free agent pickup Henry Melton has been key. I don’t expect the Cowboys to be as good as they’ve looked through 4 games all season, but they’re going to contend for a playoff spot.
However, they’re in a terrible spot here as they have a huge game in Seattle on deck. Teams are 70-99 ATS since 2008 as non-divisional home favorites before being non-divisional road underdogs. Going off of that, teams are 54-88 ATS as favorites before being underdogs of a touchdown or more, which the Cowboys could easily be considering Green Bay and Denver were 7.5 and 5 point underdogs in Seattle this season. Dallas also tends to fall flat as big home favorites. This is the first time they’ve been in this situation this season and they might be playing with less of a chip on their shoulder as a result. They are 12-20 ATS as home favorites of 3 or more since 2009. Finally, I think we’re getting significant line value with the Cowboys. This line should be 4 or 4.5 at most. The Cowboys aren’t 3 points better than a decent Texans team. This line was 3 a week ago. I’m going to fade the overreaction and the line movement and take the points here.
Dallas Cowboys 17 Houston Texans 16
Pick against spread: Houston +6