It was looking like the second consecutive 2-0 sweep until the second half of the Steelers game when Pittsburgh melted down and gave up a 23-7 halftime lead. Readers of this blog and I settle for a 1-1 split which brings my record through Week 13 to 12-8 (+6.01x).
Where Are We Headed To This Weeko
This is the strangest week of the NFL season from a market perspective.
A lot of money entered the betting market early and moved prices very quickly.
The interesting part is that much of the money came in against common favourite sides. Kansas City, New Orleans, New England, Dallas, Pittsburgh and LA Rams all were immediately identified as overpriced and driven down.
In addition to those major moves, every game on the board except for 3 has moved at least 2 points.
Betting markets in Weeks 13-17 historically average up to 2.5 points of movement per point spread, but rarely a collective mass disagreement like Sunday.
With so much uncertainty, I have moved my focus over to the totals market and identified one number to jump on.
Philadelphia Dallas Over 43.
This game is a rematch of the November 12th game played in Philadelphia. The total in that market closed 45 with the total score going over with 47.
Monday night was huge for Philadelphia.
Not only did they get a crucial victory, but they were able to establish a lead early in the game and score on their opening drive. Entering Monday Night, the Eagles had been held scoreless in nine 1st quarters this season.
With many questions around the coaching staff and rumours swirling the locker room, the offensive outburst was welcomed, and if not for two empty drives inside the Redskins 5 yard line, it would have been a 40+ point outburst and their biggest point total of the year.
Aside from playing with more pace early, the big stand out for me was Carson Wentz willing to move out of the pocket a little more by choice. He has been conservative coming off of the knee injury, but with him ready to move more and more each week, his threat of pushing the ball downfield in big chunks becomes a benefit for over backers. Philadelphia sneakily sits in the top third of the NFL in offensive success rate for passing (12th) and rushing (11th).
How About Them Cowboys!
While Philadelphia has been hanging on, the Cowboys have been thriving. The win in Philadelphia four weeks ago was the turning point of the season for Dallas. Since winning 27-20 as a 7.5 point underdog, they have won outright as a dog against the Falcons, covered a 7 point spread at home to the Redskins and beat the Saints at home as a 7.5 point dog last Thursday night.
Offensively, everything is starting to open up.
Their success rate metrics on offense have increased from 27th in passing to 14th and 13th in rushing.
My read, however, is that the market is hanging on to the implied success of their defense. During this four-game win and cover streak the Cowboys have held teams to just 17.5 points per game, including the best offence in the league Saints to only 10.
What interests me is after diving into the numbers, I see the narrative is not all that true.
The numbers on the scoreboard are small, but the success rate metrics are not there to back it up.
In the same four week span, the Cowboys are actually trending downward, to 21st in pass rate success defense and 25th in rush rate success defense.
Dallas has allowed 7.2 yards per pass attempt and 4.4 yards per carry in these four victories. Wentz went for 360 yards, and Ertz hauled in 145 yards. Ryan went for 300 and Jones went for 118 on 6 receptions. Colt McCoy in his first start on a short week for no practice averaged over 7 yards per attempt and tight ends Reed and Davis gained over 150 yards receiving.
It is quite clear the bulk of this Cowboys defensive market respect is predicated on the victory against New Orleans last week.
While impressive, the game was identified by ownership as their “Super Bowl” heading in, and it was arguably one of the most significant ‘play up’ spots of the season by any team. I am not sure it is a true reflection of this team overall.
Where’s The Edge Here?
What I like on Sunday is that both the Eagles and Cowboys have a clear matchup advantage with their primary offensive weapons.
Dallas struggles at defending elite tight ends. In this same four-game window they gave up 148 yards (12.3 yards per play) to Washington TEs and 140 yards (9.8 yards per play) to Philadelphia TEs.
Philadelphia struggles to defend Ezekiel Elliot. The last three games for Zeke he has gone for 150+ from scrimmage and averaged 5.5 yards per carry.
Not only will Zeke have continued success in this game, but the Cowboys with growing confidence in their deep passing game should be able to abuse the Eagles secondary.
The cluster injuries the Eagles are dealing with in their secondary have become a massive liability. While they were not tested by third-string Mark Sanchez, in the four games prior where injuries hit the hardest, the Eagles dropped to 29th in passing defense efficiency and allowed 9.1 yards per attempt. Ronald Darby is long gone to IR, Avonte Maddox and Jalen Mills were both held out of practice so far this week both dealing with lower body injuries.
Should Maddox and Mills both miss the game as early reports anticipate, this would leave Corey Graham as the highest grading player in the Eagles secondary – at 63rd in the league through 13 weeks.
This game all but acts as an elimination game in the NFC West which suggests there should be no shortage of urgency or aggressiveness from either side.
Both sides have a clear path to finding success on offense and with a total this low, I will gladly take the over.
- Philadelphia Dallas Over 43 (-108 / 1.93) risking 1.08x
On this week’s NFL Podcast your host Nat Coombs is joined by Paolo Bandini, Brad Allen, and Matchbook’s Aidan “Sully” O’Sullivan to preview the best of Week 14’s action.
Lively chat and debate between the lads as they break down five games in total. Listen below and search for ‘Matchbook Betting Podcast’ on your preferred podcasting app to subscribe.