Dallas Cowboys (1-1) at Arizona Cardinals (1-1)
The Cardinals are not the same team they were a year ago, when they ranked 1st in first down rate differential. They lost five starters on defense, including stud defensive end Calais Campbell and talented safeties Tony Jefferson and DJ Swearinger, and they have had a rough time with injuries early in the season. Left tackle DJ Humphries, left guard Mike Iupati, and feature back David Johnson got hurt in the opener, while middle linebacker Deone Bucannon has yet to make his season debut.
However, the Cowboys are not the same team as they were last season either. They are weaker on both lines with guard Ronald Leary and right tackle Doug Free gone and defensive tackle David Irving suspended for the first 4 games of the season. More importantly, quarterback Dak Prescott is showing signs of a sophomore slump. The Cowboys get a much easier defense this week after facing the Giants and Broncos in their first 2 games, but they didn’t have nearly that much trouble with even top level defenses last season and, on the other side of the ball, they are coming off of a terrible performance against a middling at best offense. I only have these two teams about 3 points apart, so we’re getting some line value with the Cardinals at +3.5
That being said, I wouldn’t bet on the Cardinals for two reasons. For one, the Cowboys travel about as well as any team in the league. Since 2010, they are 30-29 at home, outscoring opponents by an average of 1.80 points per game, as opposed to 30-27 on the road, where are outscored by an average of 0.68 points per game, meaning they are only at a disadvantage of about 1.5 points in road games, as opposed to the usual 3 points. That eats into the line value we get with the Cardinals. The Cardinals are also in a tough opener in a week 3 home opener, as teams are 26-53 ATS in week 3 home opener since 1989. After two games in the Eastern Time Zone, the Cardinals could be a bit sluggish back at home. They’re the pick for pick ‘em purposes, but aren’t worth betting on.
Dallas Cowboys 26 Arizona Cardinals 24
Pick against the spread: Arizona +3.5