Philadelphia Eagles (8-1) at Dallas Cowboys (5-4)
The Cowboys have had an up and down season. They started the season 2-3, with losses against the Broncos, Rams, and Packers, but came out of the bye with 3 wins by double digits, including a convincing home victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, and everything looked right again for this team. However, since then, they’ve lost Ezekiel Elliott for 6 games with a suspension, left tackle Tyron Smith indefinitely with a groin injury, and linebacker Sean Lee indefinitely with a hamstring injury. The Cowboys’ pass protection was embarrassed against the Falcons without Smith, while their defense took a huge step back after Lee left the game.
All three of those players will miss this game, which is a huge loss because they are three of their best players. Their schedule doesn’t get any easier either, with the 8-1 Philadelphia Eagles next on the schedule. The game is at home in Cowboy Stadium, but the Cowboys have such a national fanbase that they have barely had any homefield advantage in recent years. They are 33-28 on the road since 2010 (35-26 ATS), with a scoring differential of -0.07 per game, as opposed to 31-31 at home (22-40 ATS), with a scoring differential of +1.74 per game. Homefield advantage hasn’t even counted for a full point for them over the past 7 seasons.
The Eagles are relatively healthy and in a great spot coming out of the bye, as road favorites of 3.5+ are 42-17 ATS since 1989 off of a regular season bye when their opponent is not coming off of a bye. Teams are 5-1 ATS in that spot this season, but I haven’t bet on any of those 6 because I didn’t like the line value. This week, we’re getting great line value with the Eagles as 4.5 point road favorites. Given the Cowboys’ lack of homefield advantage and the Eagles considerable talent advantage, I have this line calculated at 7.5 in favor of Philadelphia.
This line was 3.5 earlier in the week, but I didn’t lock it in because I thought it might go to 3. It hasn’t, rising to 4.5, 5, and in some places 5.5. Not locking it in doesn’t hurt me too much because only 5% of games are decided by 4 points and only 3% are decided by 5 points and it was worth the risk given that about 15% percent of games are decided by 3 points. The line movement is as a result of heavy public action on the Eagles and no sharp action on the Cowboys. It may keep rising as high as 6 or 6.5, so lock this one in as soon as possible. It seems like the oddsmakers just posted a bad with this one. This is my Pick of the Week.
Philadelphia Eagles 27 Dallas Cowboys 17
Pick against the spread: Philadelphia -4.5
Confidence: Pick of the Week