Monday Night Preview
CAN DALLAS STAY FOCUSED AS BIG FAVORITE VS. VISITING WASHINGTON MONDAY NIGHT?
This is just the kind of situation that can derail teams “on the rise” in the NFL. Things start going very well, with some statement victories over quality teams. Then, the players and host city get way too overconfident when a distant also-ran comes to visit as a big underdog.
- Dallas is 6-1, with a surprisingly dominant statistical win at Seattle coming on the heels of a home blowout over perennial playoff team New Orleans (which we discussed some in yesterday’s Sunday Night preview). “America’s Team” is back in prime time after being a zombie show on a small cable channel for a few years.
- Washington is 2-5, and reeling amidst poor quarterback play and the general bad karma that comes from having an arrogant owner who can’t stop making the wrong kinds of headlines. It still looks like Colt McCoy is going to get the start Monday Night, with RGIII still recovering from a leg injury and Kirk Cousins officially benched because he couldn’t stop making turnovers.
The Dallas juggernaut could be up 34-10 and coasting in the second half. Or, a week of patting themselves on the back could lead to a surprising embarrassment.
Won-Lost Records (Strength of Schedule)
Washington: 2-5 (ranked #22 according to USA Today)
Dallas: 6-1 (ranked #20 according to USA Today)
The records we already mentioned are legitimate. Both teams have played very similar schedules. And, those will even-up or flip after the game because the Dallas schedule is about to get softer while the Washington schedule gets harder.
Washington: 6.2 on offense, 5.3 on defense
Dallas: 6.1 on offense, 6.1 on defense
Wait a second...WHAT?! Washington has a +0.9 YPP differential with a crappy record, while Dallas is only break even while crushing the souls of the Saints and Seahawks? What’s going on? You’ll get additional context in a second on the Redskins. Remember what Cousins was benched for! In the case of Dallas, that 6.1 has been amazingly efficient in terms of moving the chains and turning yards into points. A balanced attack is find the end zone repeatedly, while the defense allows yards between the 20’s before opponents fizzle.
Cousins was moving the ball then giving it away. He wasn’t a complete failure. He was frustration personified because good plays would be followed by dramatic miscues. Washington isn’t 2-5 because they had no offense. Washington is 2-5 because a play-making offense couldn’t play smart and maintain its poise. Dallas needs to keep Tony Romo from being pressured into turnovers. That’s arguably the single biggest key to their success. So far, so good.
Washington: 2-5 ATS
Dallas: 5-2 ATS
That matches the records. Dallas caught oddsmakers and sharps off guard with their very high level of play since a mistake-filled opener vs. San Francisco. The Pokes are 5-1 ATS since that big loss obviously. Washington was priced as a possible Wildcard threat to start the season. They haven’t been able to maintain that respect...and they probably shouldn’t have earned it in the first place.
Current Line: Dallas by 9.5, total of 49.5
Some of that is “air” created by the assumption that Colt McCoy isn’t going to be a positive factor for Washington. The line jumped a couple of points when it was confirmed he would be replacing Cousins. Maybe there’s still an outside chance RGIII will return from injury. Be aware though...that Colt McCoy may be perfect for moving the ball slowly and methodically against a flat defense that isn’t taking the game seriously enough. Remember that 6.1 mark on defense for the Cowboys. If everyone’s moving between the 20’s, maybe McCoy can finish off drives because the Dallas defense is posing for pictures with the cheerleaders.
JIM HURLEY has been working very closely with his on-site sources because he knows the Dallas mindset is key to everything here. The team that spanked the Saints and Seahawks would easily do the same against an outmatched opponent with a quarterback who’s in over his head. Can Colt McCoy play catch up? Drew Brees couldn’t on this field! Russell Wilson failed in the fourth quarter up north. It’s either a blowout or a thriller. JIM HURLEY will make sure you bet the right way!
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Back with you Tuesday to preview Game Six as the Giants and Royals move back to Kansas City to determine a World Champion. We’ll talk NBA on Wednesday to get you ready for a big TV game. Football previews resume on Thursday and run through the weekend.
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