I am not supposed to use the word "lock" in any of my prediction stories here at Doc's. And with good reason as there are no locks in sports betting or I'd be a multi-millionaire. But I'm promising you one thing regarding this week's Sunday Night Football game: it will not end in a 6-6 tie like last week's Seahawks-Cardinals matchup did.
It's another good matchup this Sunday with first place on the line in the NFC East as Philadelphia visits Dallas. The Cowboys (5-1) lead the Eagles (4-2) by a game with the Redskins and Giants (both 4-3) still in the mix. It's the only division where all four teams are above .500. Obviously Philly can only tie for first with a win but would own an early tiebreaker. The Eagles and Cowboys close the regular season against one another in the City of Brotherly Love.
But really the big story line here is the best matchup of the season between rookie quarterbacks: Eagles No. 2 overall pick Carson Wentz and Cowboys fourth-rounder Dak Prescott. Dallas actually did work out Wentz and had some interest potentially with the No. 4 overall pick, but once the Eagles traded up with the Browns (who have used six QBs this season, by the way, when they could have simply chosen Wentz) for the No. 2 pick, there was no question that Philly was going to take Wentz.
Bovada offers an Offensive Rookie of the Year prop this week and only guys from this game are on it: Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (-250) and Prescott (+220) and Wentz (+900).
Eagles at Cowboys Betting Story Lines
Dallas comes off its bye week. Elliott is the NFL leader in rushing through seven weeks by far at 117.2 yards per game. He has rushed for at least 130 yards in four straight outings, a first for an NFL rookie. At BookMaker, that Elliott breaks the NFL rookie rushing record of 1,808 yards set by Eric Dickerson in 1983 with the Rams is -115, but it's also -115 that Elliott doesn't. The closest a rookie has come to breaking that mark was in 1999 when Edgerrin James had 1,553 yards for the Colts. If Elliott were to maintain his current average and play all 16 games, he would finish at 1,875. As good as he and that offensive line are, I don't see Elliott breaking the record. I do think he wins OROY.
Prescott, meanwhile, is the fifth-rated QB in the NFL (103.9) and is completing 68.7 percent of his passes with just one pick (both second in the NFL to the ridiculous Tom Brady). He also has rushed for three scores. Prescott will welcome back one of the NFL's top receivers this week in Dez Bryant. He had missed the previous three games with a leg injury. Bryant has been quiet with 11 catches for 150 yards and a TD in his three games, but there's no doubting his talent. If you are wondering, QB Tony Romo still hasn't been cleared to practice from his back injury. This always was the target week for him to play. But his job is gone now.
Wentz started really strong and was the OROY favorite for a while. He has come back to earth the past two games in completing 27-for-50 for 317 yards, one TD and two picks. Part of his struggles could be attributed to the Eagles losing right tackle Lane Johnson to a 10-game suspension two weeks ago following an unsuccessful appeal.
But the Eagles did end a two-game slide on Sunday with a 21-10 home win over previously unbeaten Minnesota. The Eagles defense, which has been stellar at home and somewhat iffy on the road, allowed 282 total yards, sacked former Philly starting quarterback Sam Bradford six times and forced four turnovers. The Eagles also returned a kickoff for a score a second week in a row. In Week 6 it was Wendell Smallwood. Last week it was Josh Huff. No other team has returned a kick for a TD this year, which seems amazing until you consider that most kickoffs are touchbacks these days. Philadelphia is only the fifth team since 1970 to have a kickoff-return TD by a different player in consecutive weeks.
Eagles at Cowboys Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , Dallas is a 4.5-point favorite (-110) with a total of 43.5. On the moneyline, the Cowboys are -225 and the Eagles +185. On the alternate lines, Dallas is -5 (-105) and -4 (-115). Philadelphia is 4-2 against the spread (1-2 on road) and 3-3 "over/under" (3-0 on road). Dallas is 5-1 ATS (2-1 at home) and 2-4 O/U (1-2 at home).
The Eagles are 2-5 ATS in their past seven games after allowing 15 points or fewer in their previous game. The Cowboys are 11-5 ATS in their past 16 after a bye week. They have covered four of their past 16 at home overall. Dallas is 1-5-1 ATS in its past seven vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 7-0 in Philly's past seven on the road. It is 7-3 in the Cowboys' past 10 vs. the NFC East. The underdog is 6-1 in the past seven meetings.
Eagles at Cowboys Betting Prediction
The teams split last year. The Cowboys won 20-10 in Philly in Week 2 without an injured Bryant and the game Romo broke his collarbone for the first time. So really, that started the whole Prescott thing in motion. In Week 9 in Big D, the Eagles won 33-27 in overtime. Philly's Bradford had a good game as did DeMarco Murray, and of course both are with other teams now. Matt Cassel was the Cowboys QB. So basically take nothing from those results.
I actually don't think this will be that close. As noted above, the Eagles have been a largely different defensive team at home than on the road. Yes, they have won three straight at AT&T Stadium, but very different teams now. Give the points, go over the total.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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