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Desperate Dirty Birds are a Strong bet at Home Against Conference Opponents

Marvin Hall

The race for the NFC wild-card spots is a tight one, and the Atlanta Falcons and the Dallas Cowboys are one loss away from essentially being eliminated from playoff contention. Both teams sit at 4-5 SU and are in desperate need of stringing some wins together.

If either team has momentum heading into this game, it would be the Cowboys, who are coming off a prime-time win over the Eagles, while the Falcons had an uninspired performance in a loss vs the Browns.

The Falcons are set as favorites once again this weekend. They opened at -3 on the spread with the total opening at 48.

Shark Bites
  • The total has gone UNDER in eight of the Cowboys’ last nine games on the road (avg. combined score: 33.0).
  • The total has gone OVER in six of the Falcons’ last eight games (avg. combined score: 58.5).
  • The Falcons are 15-2 SU, 12-5 ATS in their last 17 conference home games.

Cowboys vs Falcons Game Center

My Pick: Falcons to Cover

The Falcons started the season 1-4, but seemed to come out firing when they were desperate and brought their record to 4-4. Now, after losing to the Browns in a game that Atlanta players admitted they were unmotivated for, the Falcons have their backs against the wall once again but that seems to be when they’re at their best.

One thing that gives me confidence laying money on them this week is that they’re strong at home against conference opponents. They’ve gone 15-2 SU and 12-5 ATS in their last 17 conference home games. This is the same matchup we saw just last year in Atlanta – the Falcons beat the Cowboys 27-7 in a game which saw Adrian Clayborn set a team record by sacking Dak Prescott six times.

The Cowboys haven’t fared well recently after a win. They’re 0-5 SU and 1-4 ATS in the game following their past five victories. Whether this means that oddsmakers overvalue them when they get a win, or they’re wildly inconsistent, the fact remains that you can feel comfortable taking the Falcons to cover the small spread at home.

A bad offense takes on a bad defense

Both teams have a glaring weakness heading into this game. The Cowboys have almost no ability to throw the ball effectively, while the Falcons defense is banged up and statistically one of the worst across the league.

Despite being 28th in the league in passing yards per game, Dallas has managed to rush for 133.6 yards per game, which is good for fifth in the league. Ezekiel Elliott is the Cowboys’ one and only offensive weapon, and he’s responsible for 37 percent of the yards gained for the entire offensive unit.

Despite the Falcons having a bad defense, they will perform better in this game than most people think as they aren’t terrible in stopping the run. They’re in the middle of the pack in that area, but it’s when teams decide to throw the ball that they get into trouble. They give up the third-most touchdowns through the air and they allow the third-most passing yards per game.

Unless Prescott can perform well enough to relieve the pressure on Elliott, the Falcons defense should be able to keep the Dallas offense at bay enough to win the game.

A good offense takes on a good defense

The story is the complete opposite on the other side of the ball. Atlanta’s offense is one of the best across the league, while the Dallas defensive unit is the strength of the team.

The Cowboys are allowing the third-fewest points per game this season, only giving up an average of 19. The Falcons, on the other hand, are putting up an average of 27.1 points per game, good for eighth in the league. Where the Falcons really shine is through the air. While it’s the offenses of the Chiefs, Saints and Rams getting a lot of media attention, the Falcons sit second in passing yards per game next to the Bucs. Matt Ryan is first in the league in yards per game among quarterbacks and third in completion percentage.

I think the edge goes to the Dirty Birds when it comes to the battle between their offense and the Dallas defense. Six of the nine offenses the Cowboys have played so far this season are in the bottom 10 in yards per game, which means their defensive stats may be skewed due to not playing a top offensive team. Atlanta is a team that can certainly exploit them.

The total should go OVER

The total for this game opened at 48, and as of writing this article 73 percent of money has come in on the OVER so don’t be surprised if that number goes up before kickoff. If you can grab it at anywhere below 50, I suggest you do so.

The Falcons defense is one of the worst in the league so the Cowboys should be able to put up points, while the Dallas defense isn’t as good as statistics may show. Matt Ryan and Atlanta’s high-powered offense should be able to score on a regular basis.