Philadelphia Eagles (3-8) at Dallas Cowboys (5-6)
2 weeks ago, the Cowboys stood at 4-5, but many people still gave them a chance to win this division. The Giants weren’t looking great and the Cowboys, having played a very tough schedule in their first 9 games, had a very easy schedule down the stretch with 5 of 7 at home, including at least 4 where they almost definitely were going to be home favorites. However, they barely beat Cleveland, needing overtime to come back and win after going down 13-0 early and then they lost to Washington, both as home favorites. Now the Redskins at 5-6 look like the team that’s more likely to take down the Giants, if anyone can.
The truth is, the Cowboys just don’t play well as home favorites. Since opening the new Cowboys Stadium in 2009, they are 9-17 ATS as home favorites, including just 2-7 ATS as divisional home favorites. Call it the Cowboys Stadium curse, call it whatever you want, but it’s prominent. Tony Romo struggles in general as large favorites in his career anyway, going 13-20 ATS as touchdown favorites and 6-10 ATS as double digit favorites. He’s been even worse in the division, going 1-7 ATS as touchdown divisional favorites and 0-4 ATS as double digit divisional favorites.
The Eagles, meanwhile, tend to thrive in this situation in the Andy Reid era. They’re 48-33 ATS as dogs, including 37-21 ATS on the road as dogs and 16-9 ATS as divisional road dogs. As touchdown dogs, he’s 13-6 ATS, including 7-2 ATS in the division. As double digit dogs, he’s 5-1 ATS, including 3-0 ATS in the division. For what it’s worth, he’s been double digit dogs against the Cowboys twice in his career as Head Coach of the Eagles and the Eagles won them both straight up.
Of course, these aren’t typical Andy Reid times. He’s generally been an accomplished Head Coach, but right now he’s 3-8, having lost 7 in a row and he’s basically a dead man walking employment wise. The Eagles are so banged up with injuries too and they very well may have quit. However, even if they have quit, they did show some signs of life on Monday Night against the Panthers, probably because they didn’t want to be embarrassed on National TV. Well, this one is on National TV too and against a divisional rival. This game is like their Super Bowl so if they were to ever give effort, this would be the week.
As bad as they’ve been, I don’t think the Cowboys deserve to be double digit favorites against anyone. The net points per drive method of computing line value doesn’t seem to think so either. The Cowboys rank 20th in net points per drive at -0.12 (net points per drive being offensive points divided by total drives minus defensive points allowed divided by total drives). The Eagles are 26th at -0.47. If you take the difference and multiply by 11 (average drives per game) and add 3 points for homefield, you get around -6.5, which is around where this line probably should be.
That line checks out with DVOA (which is net points per drive based, but takes other things into account and strength of schedule). The Cowboys ranks 15th and the Eagles 27th. It’s a little different than where they rank in net points per drive (the Cowboys have had the tougher schedule and the better special teams), but I don’t think you can say the Cowboys deserve to be 10 point favorites. This line shifted 2 points from last week, when it was at -8, which I don’t understand. The Cowboys lost as favorites and the Eagles finally were competitive in a game. Why did the line shift? At the very least, this line is 2-2.5 points too high.
Also, as bad as the Eagles are, no team has ever covered fewer than 3 times over the course of a season in at least the past 5 seasons. That makes sense because the whole idea behind spreads to try to make things even, make so even bad teams can cover, and make life harder for odds makers. The Eagles have either covered 1 or 2 times all season this season, depending on what line you had for their week 4 game (they beat the Giants by 2 and the line was -1.5 in some places and -2 in some others). If history is any indication, the Eagles will probably cover at least once more this season. I don’t see any time better than this one, with all of the trends in their favor in a game that should be their Super Bowl. It’s not a big play though because, I mean, it’s the Eagles.
Public lean: Dallas (50% range)
Sharps lean: PHI 5 DAL 4
Final update: Again, not shocked people stayed away from this game. The shitty Eagles or the Cowboys as double digit favorites? I have a little bit more confidence in Philadelphia than most people because all the trends say Philly will cover and I think they’ll actually give a damn this week on National TV against a divisional opponent as huge underdogs, but you couldn’t get me to make a big play on this one.
Dallas Cowboys 24 Philadelphia Eagles 17
Pick against spread: Philadelphia +10 (-110) 2 units