Dec 132013

Green Bay Packers (6-6-1) at Dallas Cowboys (7-6)

Aaron Rodgers has been ruled out for this one, so the line has been posted. The Packers have opened as 7 point underdogs. You check see all of the NFL lines at However, even though Aaron Rodgers is out, that doesn’t mean the Packers will have trouble moving the ball. The Cowboys have one of the worst defenses in the NFL, allowing opponents to move the chains at a ridiculous 77.61% rate and they will be without stud middle linebacker Sean Lee with an injury.

Eddie Lacy should be able to run all over them and make life easy for Matt Flynn, who was much better last week against an equally bad Atlanta defense, completing 24 of 32 for 258 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. He’s the best quarterback the Packers have had since Aaron Rodgers went down and he’s played pretty well, excluding a Detroit game where he didn’t have the playbook down and had to play on short rest on the road after his teammates played essentially a 5 quarter game the week before.

Because of the Cowboys’ terrible defense, they rank pretty far down in rate of moving the chains differential. With their defense allowing opponents to move the chains at 77.61%, their offense, as good as it is, can’t keep up, moving the chains at a 74.13% rate, a differential of -3.38% that ranks 24th in the NFL. They are only 7-6 because of a +12 turnover margin and a 70.0% rate of recovering fumbles that helps fuel it. Both of those things are unsustainable. Their opponents have 63 more first downs and 20 fewer punts on the season.

The Packers obviously aren’t as good as their 16th place rank in rate of moving the chains differential would suggest because so much of the positive was done with Aaron Rodgers under center, but they still don’t deserve to be 7 point underdogs here. According to rate of moving the chains differential, the only team that deserves to be 7 point underdogs in Dallas is Jacksonville. I don’t think the Packers are that bad.

The Cowboys also have had a lot of trouble as big home favorites over the past few years, going 5-12 ATS at home as favorites of 6 or more since new Cowboys Stadium opened in 2009. Most recently, they struggled with Oakland at home on Thanksgiving, trailing early before winning by a touchdown as 9 point favorites. If the Cowboys can’t beat the Raiders at home on a short week by more than a touchdown, they don’t have a good chance of beating the Packers at home on a normal week. In fact, their last win by more than a touchdown game way back in week 7.

The only reason this isn’t a bigger play is because the Cowboys have no distractions, with only a trip to Washington on deck. The Cowboys could easily be favorites of more than a field goal in Washington next week and teams are 63-37 ATS before being road favorites of more than a field goal since 2012. The Packers may or may not be in a good spot here. Usually, non-divisional road underdogs cover before being non-divisional home favorites, going 100-65 ATS since 2008. The Packers host the Steelers next week and would definitely be home favorites if Rodgers were to return and might be home favorites either way. Still, it’s not as sure of a thing as the Cowboys’ situational trend. At the end of the day though, I’m taking the points and hoping for a close game.

Dallas Cowboys 24 Green Bay Packers 20

Pick against spread: Green Bay +7

Confidence: Low

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