Free Expert NFL Picks: New Orleans Saints at Dallas Cowboys Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 9/25/2014
Let me just cut to the chase here and say that I don't expect Dallas to win this week's Sunday night game against New Orleans, but it would be a milestone victory if the Cowboys did. That's because it would be win No. 500 all time for the franchise, including playoffs. If you are wondering, the leader is Chicago with 732.
The Cowboys will be motivated for a little payback here. The Dallas defense was the worst in franchise history last season, and the low point had to be in Week 10 in New Orleans. The Saints won 49-17. OK, the Saints are excellent at home. However, New Orleans had a franchise-record 625 total yards, including 242 rushing (most since 1990) and a whopping 40 first downs, an NFL record. That was likely the beginning of the end for ex-Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, who would get demoted after the season.
Drew Brees picked apart Kiffin's unit by completing 34-of-41 (19 straight completions at one point) for 392 yards and four touchdowns. The Saints held the ball for nearly 40 minutes. Dallas was inept offensively with just 193 total yards and nine first downs. Tony Romo was 10-of-24 for 128 yards with a touchdown. Dez Bryant was a non-factor with one catch.
Saints at Cowboys Betting Story Lines
I'll be honest in that I didn't expect Dallas to be 2-1 here and even thought they might be 0-3 entering this game. Predictably the Cowboys lost Week 1 at home to the 49ers, but they easily won at Tennessee in Week 2. Last week Dallas rallied from a 21-0 deficit in St. Louis to win 34-31. It matched the biggest comeback win in team history. It was Romo's 21st comeback victory in the fourth quarter or OT, the most in team history. He was 18-of-23 for 217 yards, two scores and a pick.
What has shocked me about Dallas is that it has become a running team. Last week the Cowboys had 29 carries to those 23 pass attempts to improve to 8-1 when calling more rushing plays than passing plays under Jason Garrett. DeMarco Murray had 24 carries for 100 yards and a touchdown. Murray has rushed for at least 100 in all three games and leads the NFL with 385 yards. He's averaging an excellent 5.1 yards per carry. Murray has always been a talent but has yet to approach playing all 16 regular-season games.
The Cowboys had a bit of drama this week when cornerback Morris Claiborne was demoted from the starting lineup. He was replaced by Orlando Scandrick, who missed the first two games due to suspension. It was well deserved because Claiborne, the No. 6 overall pick in 2012, has been terrible in his career. Against the Rams he allowed five catches for 108 yards and two touchdowns and was called for a defensive holding penalty. He did have the game-clinching interception. Claiborne threw a hissy fit after being informed Tuesday and bailed on the team's practice that day. He did return Wednesday and will play. Dallas might get defensive end Anthony Spencer on the field this week. He is coming off microfracture surgery and hasn't appeared in a game since last September. Spencer had 11 sacks in his last full season (2012).
I very much expected the Saints to be no worse than 2-1, but they are 1-2. That's somewhat misleading because they lost in Atlanta on a field goal in overtime and then in Week 2 on another last-second field goal in Cleveland. New Orleans should have blown out the Vikings last week in their home opener but struggled a bit in a 20-9 win. Brees has been good but not his usual spectacular self yet with "only" five TD passes. New Orleans has a strong running game itself, ranking sixth in the NFL, but remains without injured No. 1 tailback Mark Ingram for at least a few more weeks. Also, starting center Jonathan Goodwin likely will sit this one out with a high-ankle sprain. He has started 89 straight games with the Saints and Niners, the sixth-longest active streak of any offensive lineman in the NFL.
New Orleans Saints at Dallas Cowboys NFL Week 4 Betting Odds and Trends
At WagerWeb , the Saints are 3-point favorites with a total of 53 that is the highest on the board. The total has grown a half point at nearly every book and might gain another half point. New Orleans is 1-2 against the spread, failing to cover both on the road. It is 2-1 "over/under," both away games going over. Dallas is 2-1 ATS, failing to cover its lone home game. The Cowboys are 1-2 O/U, with that home game going under.
New Orleans is 2-8 ATS in its past 10 on the road. The Cowboys are 2-10 ATS in their past 12 against teams with a losing road record. The under is 6-0 in the Saints' past six after a win as well as in their past six vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 5-1 in the Cowboys' past six following a win. The underdog has covered eight of the past nine in this series.
New Orleans Saints at Dallas Cowboys Picks and Expert Betting Predictions
Apparently there's one sure thing in the NFL: New Orleans is 26-0 under Sean Payton when the team doesn't commit a turnover. The Saints did in the first two games but not last week. The Cowboys are tied for seventh in the NFL with five takeaways.
I understand why this total is so high as perhaps the books are looking at least year's game. However, New Orleans is very different outside the Superdome, and Dallas suddenly is a ball-control offense and not relying on Romo the gunslinger. The Saints are No. 9 against the rush in allowing 101.3 ypg. However, that defense has forced just one turnover. Thus, I like the under. Also give the points, although it would be nice if it dropped to 2.5. Doesn't appear it will, so grab it before it possibly rises to 3.5.
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