Dallas Cowboys (5-4) at New Orleans Saints (6-2)
The Saints lost in New York last week to the Jets and it was viewed as a huge upset. Technically it was, the Saints were favored by 7 points, but I don’t know why anyone was shocked. The Saints lost in New England. The Patriots lost in New York. The Saints aren’t nearly as good of a team on the road as at home, but this week they return home. They’ve not only won 13 straight games at home under Sean Payton, but they’ve also covered 13 straight. In those 13 games, they’ve outscored opponents by an average of 20.9 points per game. That’s average and I’d say the Cowboys are pretty average. They should get back to that this week. They’re also very good off of a loss over the past few years, going 19-8 ATS off of a loss since 2008.
Back to the Cowboys being an average team, they have a great offense which moves the chains at a 76% rate, but their defense allows opponents to move the chains at a 77% rate. If there was any doubt they had a bad defense, they allowed Christian Ponder to complete 25 of 37 for 236 yards, 1 touchdown, and an interception last week. Christian Ponder! The week before that, they allowed the Lions to generate 623 yards of offense and only almost won because they won the turnover battle by 4. They won’t be able to do that every week and their +10 turnover margin is going to be unsustainable going forward. They get DeMarcus Ware back this week, but that’s not going to solve all of their problems. Drew Brees is going to torch them. They seem to miss Rob Ryan, who, oddly enough, is the Saints’ defensive coordinator this year.
Ryan has done a great job with the Saints’ defense. Their numbers haven’t been as good lately as they’ve faced tougher competition, but they are still holding opponents to a 71% rate of moving the chains. This was after ranking 31st in points allowed last season and allowing the most yards in NFL history last season. Their offense is obviously still explosive, moving the chains at an 80% rate, giving them a differential that is 3rd in the NFL. They deserve to be favored more than 6.5 points, before you even take into account how good they are at home. This is going to be a rough situation for the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football. I have a lot of confidence in the Saints. They’re also my Survivor Pick this week.
New Orleans Saints 37 Dallas Cowboys 23 Survivor Pick
Pick against spread: New Orleans -6.5