Dallas Cowboys (3-5) at Philadelphia Eagles (3-5)
Last week, I enjoyed a relatively successful week. I hit 4 of my 6 big plays and went 9-5 overall, but it could have been a lot better. I hit my first 4 big plays and if I had hit my last 2, I would have enjoyed my best week ever, rather than just a strong week. I also was undefeated straight up until the Giants lost to the Steelers and I was actually thinking that maybe I could go undefeated 14-0 straight up, in which case I would have been kicking myself for not parlaying all the money lines and making a serious chunk of change. Instead I finished 11-3 and I was kicking myself for another reason.
I lost my last 2 plays, Dallas +4 and Philadelphia +3. The first one was the most agonizing as the Cowboys outplayed the Falcons and had a strong chance to cover blown by Orlando Scandrick making a series of boneheaded moves. The 2nd one didn’t feel good either. The Eagles weren’t nearly as close as the Cowboys were to covering, but the game went a similar way for them. Lots of yards and first downs, but only 13 points. The 447 yards they totaled were the 9th most since 1989 that a team has had and still scored 13 or less.
Angry from those two games, I tweeted (@stevenlourie) “Probably gonna start making Philadelphia and Dallas unbettable. They suck in a way statistics can’t quite capture.” I followed that up by tweeting, “Of course I tweet that right before I realize Eagles and Cowboys play next week. That game should be…something…” I hate overreacting to one week like that, but it was so true, so it wasn’t really an overreaction. I use statistics heavily when making these picks and I had been burned on several occasions with both of these teams, especially Philadelphia.
However, breaking down the game and finding the applicable trends early this week, I began to really like the Cowboys. I felt they were the least “sucky” of the two teams. They did have the statistical advantage (real line for this one is PK for the yards per play differential method and Philadelphia –1 for the rate of sustaining drives differential method). While these two teams do both suck in a way that statistics can’t measure, I thought maybe that would cancel out when they play each other and the statistics will be spot on.
The Cowboys held the edge in the trends as well. At +1, they were road dogs off a road loss. Road dogs off a road loss are 78-47 ATS since 2008. Dogs before being favorites are 89-50 ATS since 2011. Meanwhile, on Philadelphia’s side, they were divisional home favorites before being divisional road dogs (in Washington next week). Teams are 14-47 ATS in that spot since 2002. They were divisional favorites off a 14+ MNF loss. Teams are 2-10 ATS in that spot since 2002. Finally, teams are 57-82 ATS as favorites off a loss as dogs before being dogs.
Well, what happened? The action started pouring in on Dallas and the line shifted. Philadelphia is now +1.5 at home and all of trends I referenced are moot. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise because I shouldn’t have been considering laying significant money on either of these teams in a game where literally anything can happen (and I mean anything). Maybe the Cowboys will prove I should have bet on them even as favorites.
Either way, I’m back to making these two teams unbettable this week. This is my lowest confident pick of the week and if I did zero unit picks, this would be one. I’m going to take the Eagles because I like getting Andy Reid as a dog. He’s 48-30 ATS as a dog since he took over in 1999, though just 11-10 ATS as a home dog. In a must win game where either coach could get fired at the end of the season if they lose here, I trust Reid and his 9 lives as a Head Coach more.
We’re also getting a chance to fade the public by taking Philadelphia, as Dallas is a heavy public lean. As some of you may know, the public killed the odds makers in unprecedented fashion last week, going 12-2 and winning every heavy lean. The odds makers aren’t going broke or anything. They killed the public for the first 8 weeks of the season and are still up on the year, but given that, I would be very nervous to bet on a heavy public lean this week because the odds makers, regardless of whether or not you believe in conspiracy theories, always have a way of bouncing back.
Rather than putting 1 unit on the spread, I’m putting it on the money line (+110) because it’s not worth the extra 20 cents to get protection against a 1 point Dallas loss, but remember, this pick goes last in any confidence pool and would be a zero unit pick if I did them. Literally anything can happen in this one. I’m actually looking forward to it.
Public lean: Dallas (new thing I’m adding, siding with the odds makers on bets is not a bad thing to do since they make so much money, so I’m listing this here to allow readers to “fade” the public, if they so choose, in this example, the odds makers win if Philadelphia covers)
Sharps lean: DAL 13 PHI 1
Final update: Sharps seem to like Dallas, but I still have no clue.
Philadelphia Eagles 20 Dallas Cowboys 19 Upset Pick +110
Pick against spread: Philadelphia +1.5 (-110) 0 units