Date/Time: December 29th, 8:30 PM ET
Spread: Philadelphia -7.5
Week 17 of the NFL season is here! With all of the games on the docket each and every week, we are going to be zeroing in on just one side or total that we think is the best of the bunch. Join us today, look at the game on Sunday, December 29th between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys.
The Buffalo Bills were an easy winner last week, and we are going to be giving it a shot once again this week by taking yet another underdog, this time in the biggest game of the season and finale of the pre-postseason games.
We in the betting world are always enamored with the whole concept of “What have you done for me lately?” We saw that situation last week with the Miami Dolphins following their massive win against the New England Patriots, and we think that the Eagles are now in the same spot this week.
Philly played its home finale against the Chicago Bears last week in a game which meant absolutely nothing to it. This became a win or go home game one way or the other whether that one was won by 43 (as it was) or lost by 43. However, it showed up as the most impressive game of the season in the NFL, and the bettors for this one are acting accordingly.
It’s easy to see why the Eagles are so popular. QB Nick Foles has thrown 25 TDs against just two picks on the season, and RB LeSean McCoy is likely to break the record for the most all-purpose yards in NFL history this week. WR DeSean Jackson is averaging nearly 17 yards a catch, and WR Riley Cooper is good for right at 18 yards per reception. These two men have almost 2,100 yards and 17 TDs between them, and they should have a field day against a Dallas defense which flat out stinks.
It’s true that the Eagles have only been beaten once since the start of November, and they are 5-2 ATS in those seven games. The argument could be made as well, that the loss to the Minnesota Vikings on the road was a case of just overlooking a bad foe and paying the price.
The stats don’t lie about the Eagles, though. They average 162.2 rushing yards per game, the best mark in the league, and they’re good for 420.7 yards and 27.9 points per game. They have the best offense in the NFC, and that’s saying something considering some of the quarterbacks that we have on this side of the NFL. The defense is suspect at times, allowing 392.7 yards per game, but a lot of that has been passing yards in games in which teams have been trailing against Philadelphia.
The better reason for this bet though, is that it’s Dallas! The Cowboys are 1-6 in win or go home games in the QB Tony Romo era, and to make matters worse, Romo isn’t playing in this game. Neither is LE Sean Lee, arguably the team’s best defensive player outside of LB DeMarcus Ware at this point in the season.
QB Kyle Orton has thrown a grand total of five passes this season, and no one really believes that he can lead this team to a win in what amounts to be a playoff game against the Eagles.
Dallas has done nothing to prove that it can play with the big boys. The club should have been beaten last week by the Washington Redskins, the worst team in the conference, it blew the big lead to QB Matt Flynn and the Green Bay Packers two weeks ago, and against that same Chicago team which was whipped in a game which meant everything to it and nothing to the Eagles, the Cowboys got destroyed by 17. The only playoff team which the Cowboys beat this year was Philadelphia, but that was back on October 20th before the Eagles hit their stride.
Now add in the fact that this team is on a pace to be the worst defense from a yardage standpoint in the history of the NFL and the fact that Head Coach Jason Garrett, in spite of what Owner/GM Jerry Jones says, has to be fired if this game is lost, and then add in WR Dez Bryant crying on the sidelines and the convoluted way that plays are given from the booth with OC Bill Callahan to Romo through Garrett, and the makings are there for this to be a disaster. Fans in Dallas are expecting the Cowboys to lose, and they’re ready to paste Garrett, Jones, and Romo for it (even though Romo is injured, it will surely be his fault).
So it seems easy to just back the Eagles, right?
Not so fast, my friends.
Orton is as capable of a backup quarterback as there is in the league. He has played in big games before, and he is going to have the same sort of effect on this Dallas team that QB Josh McCown had on the Bears when he was forced into action. Orton won’t make the big plays, but he won’t make the big mistake either, and at times, that’s what we feel these Cowboys really need. Philadelphia still has one of the worst secondaries in all of football, and its front seven isn’t nearly as good against the run as it might seem.
RB DeMarco Murray seems to be a forgotten man in all of this. Murray has posted games with 96, 134, and 146 yards in his last three games, and yet he gets lost in the offensive mix every now and again. Murray made the play of the season when he caught the season-saving touchdown pass in DC against the Redskins, and with Romo hurt, Orton and Callahan are going to have to rely heavily upon the ground game and the short passing game to move the ball against the Eagles and keep that offense (and their own defense) off of the field.
It also wasn’t a mistake that Dallas won when these two teams met in October. For all of the talk of Foles and how great he is, he was benched in that game against Dallas in favor of QB Matt Barkley, who went on to throw three picks. Romo threw for 317 yards, and even without Murray in the lineup, RB Joseph Randle had 65 yards on 19 carries.
The Cowboys were three-point underdogs on the road on that day, and on this one, they are 7.5-point underdogs at home. Something just isn’t adding up right to us. Will Philadelphia win this game? It’s very likely. However, we think if there is a man who can end this Dallas hex, it’s Orton, and he is coming into just the perfect storm. Don’t be all that shocked if the Cowboys end up winning this game and winning it going away against a Philly team which just seems to be ripe for the taking at the moment. For as quickly as Head Coach Chip Kelly made himself famous in the City of Brotherly Love, all of it can come crashing down if the hated Cowboys do the seemingly unthinkable and knock the Eagles out of the playoffs to snare the NFC East title.
Week 17 NFL Pick of the Week: Dallas Cowboys +7.5
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.