NFL Predictions: Cowboys at Saints Week 10 Odds
by Alan Matthews - 11/7/2013
Week 10 might be the best of the season so far in terms of intriguing matchups, making it difficult to choose which Sunday game to preview. You have an NFC North first-place matchup in Chicago with the Lions visiting and looking for a rare season sweep of the Bears. How about the Packers on a short week trying to get Seneca Wallace a firm grasp of the offense facing an Eagles team that comes off an offensive explosion in which Nick Foles threw for seven touchdown passes? Cincinnati at Baltimore, with the Ravens trying to save their season. Denver (at San Diego) and Houston (at Arizona) both take the field this week with their head coaches not on the sideline. Carolina visits San Francisco in a potential playoff preview between teams who have combined for nine straight wins -- I was going to do that game, but the Panthers are on MNF next week, so I'll save them.
I'll go with the Sunday night game between Dallas and New Orleans. I'm predicting this will be one of the most-wagered games of the season. It has everything to drive interest: national TV prime-time game, two division leaders, the popularity of the Cowboys and an expected offensive feast with two of the NFL's superstar quarterbacks. It wouldn't surprise me at all if this game mirrored the Cowboys' 51-48 home loss to Denver in Week 5, probably the game of the year so far.
Cowboys at Saints Betting Story Lines
These teams have a lot of ties. Saints coach Sean Payton was an assistant in Dallas under Bill Parcells from 2003-05. Dallas owner Jerry Jones loves the guy and reportedly reached out to Payton last season when he was suspended and without a contract extension, but now Payton is locked in for years by the Saints. Payton was a star quarterback at Eastern Illinois. So was Dallas QB Tony Romo. Drew Brees was born in Dallas and was a Cowboys fan as a kid. He is named after former Cowboys receiver Drew Pearson. Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, another former QB, spent part of the 1989 season on the Saints practice squad. He was tutored by Payton when Payton was the offensive coordinator of the Giants and Garrett was a backup there. Payton's dad and one of his brothers both worked for the Saints for a few years.
And, of course, Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was in the same position with Dallas from 2011-12. He couldn't believe he was fired after last season and is getting the last laugh. The Saints defense has been much-improved this season, ranking No. 5 in yards allowed and No. 5 in points (18.3 per game). The Cowboys unit, under Monte Kiffin, is 31st in yards allowed and 15th in points (23.2). I am starting to think the Tampa 2 bend-but-don't-break defense, of which Kiffin is largely credited as the grandfather of, has run its course. Chicago still runs it as well, and the Bears are having their worst defensive season in many years. Ryan runs an aggressive 3-4 scheme. Obviously, the good news for the Dallas offense this week is the players faced that scheme every day in practice the previous two years. That said, Ryan knows the Cowboys' offensive personnel just as well.
Don't expect much running on Sunday night. The Saints are 26th in rushing at 79.8 yards per game, and Dallas is 27th at 75.7. They are both near the bottom in attempts as well. No, this will be a pass fest with each QB likely throwing at least 50 times. Last week in their come-from-behind win over Minnesota, the Cowboys had 54 pass plays and nine runs, the highest pass-to-rush ratio in a victory in NFL history. New Orleans ran the ball 13 times and threw it 51 in its 26-20 loss at the Jets last Sunday.
Not only are two of the best quarterbacks in this game but also two of the best tight ends. The Cowboys' Jason Witten is a likely Hall of Famer and comes off an eight-catch, 102-yard, one-TD game. Dez Bryant is the star receiver on the Cowboys, but Witten remains Romo's security blanket. The Saints' Jimmy Graham is on the way to a Hall of Fame career if he can stay healthy and maintain his production. He had his fifth game of at least 100 yards receiving this season last week and his fourth with two touchdown catches. He leads the NFL with 10 TD catches and is on pace for 20, which would be a record for a tight end. Brees is on pace for yet another 5,000-yard season and probably would be the MVP favorite if not for a certain Denver quarterback. How Brees hasn't won an MVP yet is a mystery. I should mention that Dallas already has allowed four quarterbacks to pass for 400 yards this season, an NFL record.
Injury-wise, the Cowboys again will be without receiver Miles Austin but should have their best defensive player, DeMarcus Ware, back from a quad injury. He has missed the past three games. The Saints may not have No. 1 receiver Marques Colston again this week with a knee injury but should have running back Darren Sproles. He suffered a concussion last week but did practice Wednesday, so it must have been very minor.
Cowboys at Saints NFL Week 10 Betting Odds and Trends
At Bookmaker, the Saints are 6.5-point favorites with a total of 53.5. Dallas is 7-2 ATS (3-1 on road) and 4-5 “over/under” (2-2 on road). New Orleans is 5-3 ATS (4-0 at home) and 4-4 O/U (2-2 at home). The Cowboys are 6-1 ATS in their past seven in Week 10. They are 5-1 ATS in their past six against teams with a winning record. Dallas is 1-6 ATS in its past seven in November. New Orleans is 14-3 ATS in its past 17 at home vs. teams with a winning record. Saints are 6-2 ATS in their past eight after a loss. The over is 5-2 in Dallas' past seven after an ATS loss. The over is 10-2 in the Saints' past 12 vs. teams with a winning record. The underdog is 8-0 ATS in the past eight meetings.
NFL Predictions: Cowboys at Saints Betting Picks
Last year's Week 16 matchup in Dallas was one of the most entertaining games of the season, with the Saints winning 34-31 in overtime. Brees threw for 446 and three scores and Romo 416 and four. He hit Austin on a 19-yard score with 15 seconds left to send it to overtime. Bryant was a beast with nine catches for 224 yards and two scores. I expect a very similar game this week. New Orleans still hasn't lost or failed to cover at home under Payton in the regular season since the end of the 2010 season. It will keep that streak going. Take the Saints and the over.
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