Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys (12/22/19): NFL Betting Picks, Lines

Last Week: 5-3
All Time Results: 92-82-2, +12.23 Units

Dallas Cowboys -2.5 @ Philadelphia Eagles – 1 Unit

The Cowboys have dominated the NFC East in the Dak Prescott era, to the tune of 17-5 SU & 16-6 ATS. They have beaten expectations by over 5 points per game vs. their division foes.  These figures are even better recently, and even better when All-Pro, RB Ezekiel Elliot is in the fold.

Dallas is on an impressive 12-1 SU & ATS run against the NFC East since the middle of 2017.  They have beaten expectations by 9 points per game over this stretch.  In Zeke Elliot’s career, the Cowboys are 5-0 SU & ATS vs. Philly when he plays, beating expectations by 8.5 points per game.

While the Giants and Redskins have been a mess the entire recent past, no one would say Dallas as a franchise is head and shoulders above an Eagles franchise that recently won the Super Bowl. So why have they been so dominant against them?

dallas cowboysMy Theory: The Cowboy’s physical advantage manifests itself the most when both teams are familiar with one another’s schemes and strategies, which we see in divisional games.

Whereas strategic edges can be figured out over time, physical dominance is not easily mitigated by familiarity with one’s opponent.  In fact, the opposite effect may be taking place.  The Boys continual physical dominance is creating a mental edge against their most familiar rivals.  Teams get out of sorts trying to contend with the unstoppable force that keeps battering them.  They get out of their game plan because they don’t trust their game plan to close the physicality gap.

We see this in other sports.  Take, for example, Giannis Antetokounmpo & the Bucks in the NBA.  The teams they play the most, they dominate the most.

The Milwaukee Bucks are 19-1 SU & 17-3 ATS against fellow Central Division NBA Teams in 2019.  They have won on average by 16 points per game and have beaten expectations by over 5 points per game.  The Pistons, Pacers, and Bulls simply fold again and again when the big brother Bucks comes to town.

Likewise, NFC East teams know what’s coming when they play Dallas, the Cowboys O-Line and Zeke will drive the ball down their throats.  They just can’t stop it.  The Cowboys – unlike the 49ers, for example – don’t rely on misdirection or trickery to win on offense: they prefer brute force.  The Eagles defense was constructed to muck up the middle with a great defensive line.  Dallas’s world-class rushing attack defangs them at their core.

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Dallas Cowboys -137 @ Philadelphia Eagles 1st Half -.274 Units

Philadelphia’s offense has been reeling from cluster injuries at talent positions.

In addition to still not having their downfield threat in Desean Jackson or their change of pace back in Darren Sproles, the Eagles will likely be missing the following players from their Week 7 matchup vs. Dallas:

WR Alshon Jeffrey (O), WR Nelson Agholor (Q), RB Jordan Howard (Q) & RT Lane Johnson (Q).

philadelphia eaglesDespite their entire offense being a mash unit, the Eagles have still averaged 30 points per game over their last two.  How?
Carson Wentz is elite.  Once each team is off-script and both teams are tired, Wentz has dragged the Eagles to clutch TDs in the 4th quarters of the past two games.  He’s mobile, steady & smart.  In my opinion, he’s just as good as everybody thought when he was an MVP favorite late into 2017.  The team around him has just fallen apart.

Philadelphia has been money with their backs against the wall in the last couple of years, whether with Nick Foles or Carson Wentz.  Over the last two seasons, Philly is 11-2 SU in games where they either will be eliminated with a loss or will have a <10% to make the playoffs if they lose. (List created somewhat, subjectively).  This list includes their comeback wins in each of the last two weeks.

While I like the Cowboys to win, Carson Wentz remains dangerous to pull off another miracle at home on Sunday.  Because of this concern, I’m placing a portion of my bet on Cowboys to win the 1st half.  I will also consider hedging late in the game if the Cowboys have a lead.

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys 1st Quarter Under 7.5 (-112) – .25 Units

dallas cowboysWe hit this magical trend once again less than two weeks ago on Thursday Night Football.   The Under has now hit in the 1st quarter of 17 of the Dallas Cowboys last 18 road games.  To recap from my previous article: “Jason Garrett has proven exceedingly conservative to start road games over the past couple of seasons.”  We saw this again on TNF when Dallas played the Bears.  The Cowboys plotted an 8-minute, methodical drive to start the game.  Unlike their previous 17 road games, they actually cashed this drive-in with a touchdown – believe it or not their first opening period touchdown in 18 road games! Since the drive took so long, one-stop by the Dallas defense ensured another 1st Quarter Under cash.

Additionally, the Eagles have been poor scoring in the opening period all season.  The Eagles are 19th in 1st Quarter scoring at only 4 points per game.  Moreover, their options to start the game are more limited now than ever.  The Eagles have averaged just 2.25 points in their last 4 1st Quarters at home.  Carson Wentz has proven over the last couple weeks that he can break out in the 2nd half once their defenses get tired.  But to start the game, I expect it to be more tough sledding for the Eagles.

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Born in Chicago, born for Las Vegas, Mackenzie is a graduate of Yale University with a BA in English & Creative Writting. Mackenzie runs AlternativeStats.blog, which seeks to by-pass the minutiae of commonly cited sports statistics and expose the heart of what drives athletic success. After several successful years investing in Las Vegas real estate, Mackenzie is excited to transition in 2019 into betting on sports full time, as well as documenting his thought process as he further learns the craft.

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