The Cowboys slipped to 3-4 last weekend after a disappointing loss for the team and the fans. After a dismal first half the Cowboys charged back but sloppy offense haunted them in the 4th quarter and the NY Giants prevailed. Atlanta’s Week 8 was entirely different as they handled Philadelphia from the outset and won to remain undefeated at 7-0. Despite the stark difference in records, this might turn into a good game as the strengths and weaknesses of each team pair up well.
Atlanta has managed to win games all season despite being unexceptional on the stats sheets. Their passing offense is ranked 8th in the league while their rushing offense is ranked 24th in the league. Their pass defense is ranked 10th in the league and their rush defense is ranked 26th. Not bad numbers but certainly not what one would expect when you hear they are undefeated. Actually, by rankings you would guess Dallas is the better team. Their offense is ranked 3rd for the pass and 28th for the run; while the Dallas defense is ranked 3rd against the pass and 13th against the run.
So what could be one explanation for this peculiarity? Schedule. Dallas has played the Giants twice, the Seahawks (when they were solid earlier in the year), the Bears and the Ravens. Each of those teams is a top team and each gave the Cowboys a loss. The best teams that Atlanta played were Denver in Week 2 and Oakland in Week 6. Atlanta has played only one current division leader and Dallas has played three of them. Furthermore Atlanta has won four of their games by 7 points or less. There is a good chance that Atlanta could turn out like Houston: undefeated until they face good team. No one would say that Houston is a bad team but they got a big shock from Green Bay.
Dallas has been 2-2 on the road this season and lost two of those road games to good teams. On the road they beat the Panthers and in Week 1 they beat the Giants. Probably give Atlanta a big edge playing at home. Also give Atlanta an edge for being consistent and Dallas a disadvantage for being very inconsistent, at least on offense. The Dallas defense is good wherever it goes; unfortunately their offense gets them in tough spots.
Atlanta is favored to win this game with a 4.5 point spread and an over/under of 47.5 points. Dallas scores an average of 19.6 points and allows an average of 23.1 points. Atlanta has earned an average of 28.7 points scored per game and allowed an average of 18.6 points. Dallas seems to score points against the better teams even if they lose so give them the 20 points they are averaging. Atlanta consistently breaks 25 points but Dallas has a good defense so only give Atlanta 25 points. So Atlanta to cover the spread but stay under 47.5 points follows season trends.
Atlanta is probably overdue for a loss but the sloppy and inconsistent Cowboy offense is likely not up to the task. However if the Cowboys do win it should still be a close game with about the same scores but reversed.
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