Dallas Cowboys (3-8) at Washington Redskins (5-6)
This line favored the Cowboys by 3 points last week in the early line, but now the Redskins are favored by 4. Obviously, Dallas’ loss of quarterback Tony Romo for the season was a big part of the line movement, and rightfully so, but I do think this line is a little high, especially considering about a quarter of games are decided by a field goal or less. This could still easily be a field goal game, despite Romo going down. The Cowboys got blown out at home by the Panthers last week (33-14), but there isn’t a ton of shame in that, even if the Cowboys did have Romo healthy for most of the game.
The Panthers are one of the best teams in the NFL and the game would have been a lot closer if the Cowboys didn’t lose the turnover margin by 3 and the return touchdown margin by 2. Those types of things are easy to clean up week-to-week and the 5 of the Cowboys’ 8 losses came by a touchdown or less. They’re also almost completely healthy other than Romo, as only two other players were listed on their injury report, both of whom are expected to play.
The Cowboys rank 19th in rate of moving the chains differential. They obviously move the chains better when Romo is out there, 72.80% in his 4 starts, as opposed to 70.23% in their other 7 games, but they haven’t been awful without him, despite their 0-7 record in those other 7 games. As I mentioned, most of their losses have been close. The Redskins, meanwhile, rank 22nd in rate of moving the chains differential. They beat the Giants as home underdogs in Washington by 6 last week, but the Giants were missing their top two offensive linemen.
I feel like that game, along with the Cowboys’ game from hell, are inflating this line. That’s certainly not a surprise. That tends to happen and is part of the reason why teams are 43-71 ATS off of a win as home underdogs, as the Redskins are here. The Cowboys are also 18-10 ATS as road underdogs since 2010. I’m expecting a field goal game or so, so I’m going with the Cowboys here, though I’m not confident enough to put money on them.
Washington Redskins 23 Dallas Cowboys 20
Pick against the spread: Dallas +4