Cowboys Falcons Sunday Night Preview

COWBOYS VISIT FALCONS, AS BOTH ARE DUE FOR REVERSALS IN FORTUNE

Sports bettors will once again be confronted by "The Due Theory" this Sunday Night when the Dallas Cowboys visit the Atlanta Falcons in a game to be nationally televised by NBC. It drips off every stat in our breakdown, and from every handicapping angle you can consider in the game.

  • Atlanta is 7-0, and therefore due to lose a game in a league known for parity.

  • Dallas keeps losing nailbiters, and is due to catch a few breaks.

  • Tony Romo is due to have a big yardage game where he isn't racked by turnovers.

  • Matt Ryan is due to have a sloppy game where he IS racked by turnovers.

It's not time for Atlanta to wrap up a playoff spot and coast to the #1 seed just yet. It's not time for Dallas to fall out of the playoff picture entirely in the very tough NFC just yet either. If you LOVE the due theory, then Dallas is your pick here in very dramatic terms.

Of course...it's just as easy to say that Dallas is a turnover machine that's likely to get drilled on the road by an opponent in good form. How are you going to beat a hot team like Atlanta if you keep handing them cheap points?!

Let's run through our indicator stats to see if we can determine the true best expectation for this intriguing Sunday Night encounter.

DALLAS COWBOYS at ATLANTA FALCONS (8:20 p.m. on NBC)
Las Vegas Spread: Atlanta by 4, total of 47.5

The market says Atlanta would only be one point better on a neutral field, which is obviously fairly small for an undefeated team playing at home against an opponent with a losing record! Oddsmakers and professional wagerers have factored much of the due theory into this Vegas line already. There's still some air in there if you believe "Atlanta is due to lose" the game outright. But, this line is four instead of six or seven because of expectations for reversals.

WON-LOST RECORDS (schedule strength according to USA Today)
Dallas: 3-4 (1st ranked schedule)
Atlanta: 7-0 (31st ranked schedule)

We've already discovered the true hidden potency of "The Due Theory" right here. It's not just that Atlanta is undefeated. They're undefeated while playing the second easiest schedule in the league! They've played very few true contenders in a season where most everyone else is having it tough (that's because this year's set against the AFC West came early for the Falcons). Dallas on the other hand has played the single toughest schedule in the whole NFL. Nobody's had it tougher than the Cowboys. Going 3-4 against a brutal schedule suggests a winning record against a league average schedule...and possibly even an undefeated mark against the slate Atlanta has seen. These teams might be virtual clones given the same schedules!

TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL
Dallas: -11
Atlanta: +10

Here now is the second most important factory within "The Due Theory" process. Bad luck! Dallas can get sloppy, but they're not the kind of team who should be making a run at -22 to -25 in turnovers for a full season. Atlanta's faced some easy defenses...and probably won't enjoy a great differential when things even out. Dallas is better than you realize because they've endured bad luck through a tough schedule. Atlanta isn't as good as you might think because they've enjoyed good luck during a gift schedule (by NFC standards).

OFFENSIVE STATS
Dallas: 383.3 yards-per-game on 5.6 yards-per-play
Atlanta: 365.7 yards-per-game on 5.6 yards-per-play

Wow...Dallas grades out as the superior offense even while playing a much tougher schedule. Yes, some of that is because they've been in desperation mode due to turnovers. But, there is talent on this offense. And, nobody's thinking Atlanta has suddenly become world class on this side of the ball. Good yes...but not in a way that would set them apart from Dallas if both teams were avoiding turnovers.

DEFENSIVE STATS
Dallas: 292.4 yards-per-game on 5.2 yards-per-play
Atlanta: 353.3 yards-per-game on 5.7 yards-per-play

Can that be right? That is right. Dallas has picked up its pace defensively of late as is once again living up to the Ryan name. Eli Manning and the Giants couldn't do much of anything last week when they weren't being granted cheap points off turnovers. Atlanta's defense shows VERY poorly considering the schedule they've faced. Now it makes more sense that they almost blew a game to Oakland at home.

MOST RECENT BOXES

NY GIANTS 29, DALLAS 24
Total Yardage: NY Giants 293, Dallas 434
Rushing Yards: NY Giants 103, Dallas 19
Passing Stats: NY Giants 15-29-1-190, Dallas 36-62-4-415
Turnovers: NY Giants 2, Dallas 6
Third Downs: NY Giants 20%, Dallas 50%
Vegas Line: NY Giants by 2.5, total of 48

Obviously turnovers were the big problem here. Dallas couldn't overcome what they were giving away, though they almost pulled a miracle win out of the fire anyway. The biggest concern for those of you thinking about taking Dallas in Atlanta should be the rushing category. Dallas has mostly struggled very badly on the ground...which is what sets up the turnover issues. They have to go to higher risk passes to move the ball, and it keeps blowing up in their face. Be sure you visualize a way Dallas can run the ball on the Falcons before jumping in with both feet on the Sunday Night dog.

ATLANTA 30, PHILADELPHIA 17
Total Yardage: Atlanta 392, Philadelphia 270
Rushing Yards: Atlanta 146, Philadelphia 92
Passing Stats: Atlanta 22-29-0-246, Philadelphia 21-35-0-178
Turnovers: Atlanta 0, Philadelphia 0
Third Downs: Atlanta 54%, Philadelphia 46%
Vegas Line: Philadelphia by 3, total of 42

A strong showing here, particularly considering that weather and field conditions weren't particularly friendly. Maybe Philadelphia's chemistry is so bad that this really wasn't that great a performance. We'll learn more about that in Monday Night's Eagles/Saints game. There are no doubts though that Atlanta is a playoff caliber team. They dominated a team that wasn't a doormat.

BEST EXPECTATION
We have great respect for the laws of football. Some of those involve "The Due Theory." But, some involve "The You Can't Win Without Any Rushing Yards Theory" too! If Dallas can move the ball some on the ground...move the chains...and avoid turnovers...they will be there at the end of the game and could easily win this one outright to help neutralize earlier drift. But, if they CAN'T play relatively risk-free, then this will just be the latest turnover implosion that has the media calling for coach firings, quarterback trades, and owner lobotomies.

JIM HURLEY studied both of the marquee TV games involving these teams last week very closely knowing they'd be matched up in prime time this week. He found a key that he thinks will be the difference-maker. You'll have to sign up for service to find out if that key was enough to qualify for a major selection on this busy Sunday of NFL action. Take care of business here at the website or call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453.

Back with you tomorrow to crunch the numbers in the aforementioned Philadelphia-New Orleans game that stars on this week's Monday Night Football. NBA coverage continues Tuesday in what's been a fascinating season already. Don't forget that college hoops is now less than a week away! Make sure you're with us EVERY DAY so you know what's REALLY going on in the world of sports. And, link up with JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK for the best plays money can buy!

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