Dallas Cowboys (9-4) at Philadelphia Eagles (9-4)
The Eagles won in Dallas a few weeks ago, but that doesn’t mean these two teams aren’t even. The Eagles rank 11th, moving the chains at 71.46% rate, as opposed to 70.14% for their opponents, a differential of 1.32%. The Cowboys, very similarly, rank 14th, moving the chains at a 76.11% rate, as opposed to 74.94% for their opponents, a differential of 1.17%. The Eagles’ offense has been especially bad with Mark Sanchez under center, as they’ve moved the chains at a 69.94% rate over the past 5 weeks despite playing 4 of the 7 worst defenses in the league in terms of rate of moving the chains differential (Green Bay, Carolina, Tennessee, Dallas). The reason the Cowboys lost on Thanksgiving is because they generally struggle at home, going 7-23 ATS as home favorites since 2010. The Eagles, meanwhile, are 14-27 ATS at home over that same time period.
This isn’t unique to the Cowboys and Eagles, as the whole NFC East recently has had less homefield advantage than average recently. At home, the NFC East is 73-85 since 2010, outscoring opponents by an average of0.67 points per game and going 59-96 ATS. On the road, they are 77-80, getting outscored by an average of 2.00 points per game and going 83-72 ATS. As you can imagine, road teams in NFC East divisional games tend to do well, going 25-14 ATS over that time period as divisional road underdogs.
The Eagles’ previous win in Dallas actually puts them in a bad spot this week, as divisional home favorites are 25-49 ATS since 2002 against a divisional opponent that they previously beat as road underdogs during that same regular season. It’s a weird trend and it’s a little complicated, but it makes sense when you think about it. In divisional matchups where the homefield advantage decides who is the favorite, generally those two teams are essentially even. Divisional opponents that are essentially even generally split the season series. That seems to happen even if the road team pulls the upset in the first matchup, as the road underdog wins about half the time (39-38) in the rematch and covers at that aforementioned 2/3rds rate.
I like the Cowboys’ chances of getting revenge here and even if they don’t do so by winning, this line is at 3.5 so there’s some wiggle room. Getting that extra half point is very important considering these two teams are essentially even and it’s the direct result of the Eagles’ win in Dallas two weeks ago, which we established is very explainable. The only reason this isn’t a bigger play is because the Eagles don’t have any distractions on the horizon with a trip to Washington on deck. Teams are 89-63 ATS since 2012 before being 3+ road favorites, 57-36 ATS before being 4+ road favorites, and 23-8 ATS before being 7+ road favorites (the early line is Philadelphia -8.5). I’m still taking the Cowboys and the 3 and a half.
Dallas Cowboys 24 Philadelphia Eagles 23 Upset Pick +150
Pick against the spread: Dallas +3.5