Atlanta Falcons (4-4) at Dallas Cowboys (6-2)
The Cowboys shockingly lost at home to the Broncos last week, in Dak Prescott’s return, a week after they went into Minnesota and beat a quality team with an inexperienced backup quarterback under center. I wouldn’t put too much stock in that one loss though, as the Cowboys were likely just flat after a big effort with a backup quarterback under center the week before. Even with Prescott missing a game and the Cowboys struggling in his first game back, Dallas still ranks 1st in offensive efficiency on the season.
I wish Dallas’ loss had triggered a bigger line movement though, especially with the Falcons winning in upset fashion in New Orleans, but this line only moved from Dallas -9.5 on the early line to Dallas -8.5 this week. The Cowboys also lost talented edge defender Randy Gregory to injury in the past week, which is another reason this line could have shifted. However, we are actually still getting some line value with the Cowboys, even without Gregory, as I have them calculated as 11-point favorites over a Falcons team that only has a 4-4 record because of a very easy schedule.
The Falcons’ win against the Saints last week was just their second game of the season against a team with a winning record and they were only able to beat the Saints in a close game because the Saints were starting a backup quarterback and were likely flat after a big upset win over the Buccaneers the week before. The Falcons’ other wins have come against the Giants, Dolphins, and Jets, three of the worst teams in the league, and their margin of victory is just a combined 14 points across their four wins, with their four losses coming by a combined 59 points, giving them the 8th worst point differential in the league, despite a weak schedule.
Unless Dallas is flat again, the Falcons should have a hard time keeping up and, if either of these teams are flat this week, I would expect it to be the Falcons, who are coming off of that big win over the Saints last week, pulling the upset as touchdown underdogs. Teams cover at just a 43.1% rate all-time after a win as underdogs of a touchdown or more against a divisional opponent. I wish we were getting a little bit better of a line, but I don’t expect this game to be close, so the Cowboys are worth a bet this week.
Dallas Cowboys 37 Atlanta Falcons 24
Pick against the spread: Dallas -8.5