Dallas Cowboys (4-8) at Green Bay Packers (8-4)
When these two teams met in the playoffs last year, the Cowboys were 8-0 on the road and the Packers were 8-0 at home, the first time in NFL history a team that hadn’t lost at home hosted a playoff game against a team that hadn’t lost on the road. The Cowboys covered as 5.5 point underdogs, but lost the game in a very controversial 26-21 ending. This matchup is a little different. Quarterback Tony Romo is out for the season for the Cowboys and the same is true of wide receiver Jordy Nelson for the Packers, key players on both of these offenses. The Packers have lost their last 2 straight up at home, both as significant favorites like they are here.
However, as long as Aaron Rodgers starts (minus any games he’s been knocked out very early with injuries), the Packers are 30-14-1 ATS at home since 2010 and 39-6 straight up, with an absurd +604 point differential, meaning they outscore opponents, on average, by 13.42 points per game. The Cowboys, meanwhile, are 19-10 ATS as road underdogs since 2010. That makes it tough to pick which team is going to cover. Rate of moving the chains differential doesn’t help out much either. The Packers rank 9th in rate of moving the chains differential, while the Cowboys rank 17th and have moved the chains at a slightly worse rate in the 8 games Tony Romo has missed (69.14%), as opposed to the 4 games he has played (72.80%). This line, -7 in favor of the Packers, is pretty appropriate.
I’m going to take the Cowboys for three reasons. For one, the Packers are missing center Corey Linsley, which could easily hurt their offense. Two, the Packers are heavily backed by the public and I like to fade the public whenever it makes sense, as they always lose money in the long run. Three, the Packers have lost their last two home games, so they’re not exactly an auto-bet at home anymore. The Cowboys are a solid road team that can keep this close, but I wouldn’t want to have any sort of money going against Green Bay. It’s a no confidence pick.
Green Bay Packers 23 Dallas Cowboys 17
Pick against the spread: Dallas +7