Here's our weekly visit from Dave Staley of sportsbook.com, followed by my Week 9 picks.
Q: What do you make of the Eagles-Cowboys line for Sunday night's game?
A: As of now, the line for Sunday night’s game is holding steady at the Eagles minus-3, which is exactly where we opened it. However, when we opened this line, the juice was the standard minus-110 on both sides. Now, if you want to play Dallas, the juice is minus-120, whereas you can wager on the Eagles at ‘even’ or no juice. Obviously the early bettors like this juice-free wager as 84 percent of the early cash is backing the Eagles.
Unlike last week, I think this line is pretty sharp and falls right where it should. Both teams are pretty equal at this point of the season, as Dallas is coming off of three straight wins while the Eagles have put together two consecutive victories. Additionally, both teams covered each of their last two games.
Considering the unwritten rule that home teams usually get right around a field goal, it makes perfect sense that the Birds are favored by that exact amount.
One trend that Eagles bettors should be happy to hear: the Cowboys are just 1-5 against the spread in their last six games as underdogs.
Q: And what about the over-under?
A: The total is currently at 49 points. This is well above the average total, but with the way these teams put points on the board, it is easy to see why. Combined, they average 57.1 points per game.
Defensively, they combine to give up just 38.4 PPG. Philly has not let an opponent score more than 17 points since Week 2. That stat alone makes me think there is a little extra value on the under.
The bettors don’t agree as 97 percent of the money is on the over.
When the Eagles have the ball, the formula will be similar to what we've seen all year. The Eagles should be able to hit on some big plays down the field. The keys, as always, will be the offensive line and Donovan McNabb. Jason Peters has had some lapses in the last couple weeks, and things get no easier here with DeMarcus Ware lined up on the other side of the ball. There's no doubt in my mind that Ware is going to get to McNabb at least a couple times. It's imperative that McNabb feels the pressure and takes care of the football. With the way the Cowboys' offense is playing, the Eagles do not want to provide them with a short field.
When the Cowboys hve the ball, the key is pressure on Tony Romo. And from what I saw from watching Dallas' game last week, the Eagles need pressure up the middle. Romo did a good job against the Seahawks when the pressure came off the edges, stepping up and finding open receivers.
I think the Birds will be able to pressure him and force turnovers as they've done all season and hit on some big plays on offense.
The pick: Eagles (-3)
Week 9 picks
Last week: 5-8
CHIEFS (+7) at Jaguars
RAVENS (-3) at Bengals
COLTS (-9) vs. Texans
FALCONS (-9) vs. Redskins
PACKERS (-10) at Bucs
CARDINALS (+3) at Bears
DOLPHINS (+10.5) at Patriots
SAINTS (-13) vs. Panthers (MC's Pick of the Week. Pay attention. He's now 6-2 on the season)
SEAHAWKS (-10) vs. Lions
49ERS (-4) vs. Titans
CHARGERS (+4.5) at Giants
STEELERS (-3) at Broncos