Atlanta Hosts Dallas on Sunday Night Football

Tony Romo's 13 interceptions have been a huge problem for the Cowboys this season, but his 19-2 record in November will give the unbeaten Atlanta Falcons something to think about on Sunday Night Football.

As Sunday Night Football rolls around again this week, viewers will get their chance to see the unbeaten Atlanta Falcons host the reeling Dallas Cowboys.

This marquee match-up between the team with the only perfect record in the league and America’s favorite team will have bettors on the edge of their seats. It’s highly likely that they’ll remain on the edge of their seats until the very end as well.

If you’re unsure who to pick in this one and need a few pointers, read on to find a few nuggets of truth that may sway you one way or another.


Unbeaten Falcons Looking for More

There’s still an air of criticism surrounding the Atlanta Falcons (7-0, 3-0 home), and rightfully so.

The Georgia side may well be perfect but that is a record achieved against a very soft schedule. Atlanta has faced just one team (Denver) that currently has a winning record. The team’s opponents have gone a combined 19-33 (.365), hardly a record that is going to be imposing to any semi-decent side. But, as the old adage goes, you are what your record says.

Atlanta will look to ride this unbeaten streak further towards the playoffs. And ride the Falcons can. At this point in time, the schedule going forward is almost as soft as that which has passed. Future opponents have a record of 27-38 (.415), and only one team with a winning record (NY Giants) lies in wait.

Of course there’s a big difference between what happens on paper and what happens on the gridiron. With five games remaining against divisional rivals, Atlanta can expect the run to the postseason to be tougher than it appears. And it might not take until next week’s showdown with New Orleans for the Falcons to chalk one up in the loss column.


Dire Times in Big D

Anyway you slice it up, Dallas (3-4, 2-2 road) has had a bizarre season so far. It’s not that the Cowboys’ 3-4 record is that strange. The team has certainly played like a 3-4 team for much of the year. It’s not even that there is a huge imbalance between the almost non-existent running game and the passing game. It’s the fact that this is a team with obvious talent, but nothing to show for it.

Dallas has the number three passing offense in the league in terms of yards per game (297.3). It also has the number three pass defense in the league (187.7 YPG). Those two statistics should translate to a high-scoring offense akin to New England or New Orleans. It doesn’t.

Dallas scores just 19.6 PPG (25th). Part of this is down to a weak rushing game that has seen neither DeMarco Murray nor Felix Jones put in any kind of consistent play. Murray (foot) will be missing for the third straight game Sunday. Part of it is down to Tony Romo.

Romo has thrown a completion rate of 65 percent this season with nine touchdowns. He’s even ran one in, putting him one behind Murray for the team lead in rushing touchdowns. But he’s thrown 13 interceptions! Far too many drives have finished with Romo giving the ball to the other side.

If the Cowboys are to achieve anything against the Falcons on Sunday night it starts with looking after the football. In an ideal world, Romo would hand the ball off and let the Cowboys’ running game punish a weak Atlanta rush defense. That perfect world wouldn’t include Murray out and Jones trying to cope with a niggling injury. Come kickoff time, the Cowboys may have no option but to put all of their eggs in the basket that is Romo’s inaccurate arm.

But then again, Tony Romo is 19-2 in the month of November!


Looking for an Edge

Dallas leads the all-time head-to-head 16-8 and has been dominant in recent years. The Cowboys have won seven of the last 10 meetings, including the last time the two sides met, a 37-21 victory in October 2009. Dallas is 7-5 all-time when playing the Falcons in Atlanta.

Atlanta is favorite heading into this one. A three-point advantage has risen to four points as kickoff approaches.

Dallas has gone 3-4 ATS this season while Atlanta is 5-2 ATS. The two games dropped by Atlanta came in close wins over Oakland and Carolina, and go some way to suggesting that the Falcons are not as dominant as their record might suggest.

The over/under is 47½. The last two times the sides met, the total exceeded that number, but neither has rewarded bettors taking the over this season. Both sides have seen the total go under four times in seven games. Dallas has also seen the total go under in seven of its last 10 games and six of seven on the road. All signs point to taking the under this Sunday in Georgia.

Week 9 NFL Betting Tips

Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers - sans Killer Bees uniforms - will travel on the day to take on the New York Giants.

It’s the midpoint of the NFL season and Week 9 promises a lot of close matchups as teams look to improve their records heading into the second half.

As ever, there is no shortage of talking points heading into play on Sunday. Can the Ravens hold off the Browns? Will Jacksonville win another game this season? Can Atlanta remain unbeaten?

To get you started with your picks this week, we’ve skimmed some of the more intriguing games from the schedule and given you our thoughts.

Be sure to come back tomorrow also for an in depth look at the Sunday Night Football clash between Dallas and  Atlanta.


Carolina Panthers @ Washington Redskins

A much-maligned Carolina (1-6, 0-3 road) hits the road this weekend, heading for Landover, Md., and a showdown with the Washington Redskins (3-5, 1-2 home). Make no mistakes; this one’s on the radar thanks to its pitting Robert Griffin III against Cam Newton.

Newton has had a tough season, something he’s struggling mentally to cope with, while Griffin is having the sort of season Newton enjoyed last season. Whilst the issue of whether or not these two quarterbacks are similar has been on the agenda this week, there’s one these two certainly have in common: both will be looking for a win this weekend.

Carolina has posted a dismal record, particularly after hopes were so high ahead of the season. Washington, meanwhile, has had what can be considered a successful year, mainly because expectations were low coming into the season.

The Skins have been free-scoring this season, ranking fourth in the league in points, at 26.6 per game. The team’s running game is tallying 166.3 YPG, second only to San Francisco, and will be the focus in this one.

Carolina should take solace in the fact that Washington isn’t exactly a defensive juggernaut. The Redskins are last in the league at stopping the pass, conceding 314.3 YPG through the air, whilst giving up 28.4 total points per game (29th). That should give Newton and the Panthers some time to work out an offensive scheme.

Odds: Washington is 3½-point favorite, with the over/under at 47½.

Take: Carolina – The Panthers have been woeful this season but this is the sort of game the side from Charlotte can take an upset win from. Defensive will be at a premium, so Carolina should make this a shootout. Running the football would be a good idea for both sides. Take the over for those same reasons.


Miami Dolphins @ Indianapolis Colts

It’s being billed as the battle of two rookie quarterbacks, but this game has more going for it than just the clash between Andrew Luck and Ryan Tannehill.

Both Indianapolis (4-3, 3-1 home) and Miami (4-3, 2-2 road) have surprised a lot of people this season. Neither has been the automatic out some would have expected, and at the end of this game, one of these sides is going to have a 5-3 record!

Miami will focus on trying to run the football, a decision that is as much to do with the Colts’ inability to stop the run (27th) as the Fins’ abilities to run (11th). On the flipside, Luck and Indianapolis will look to throw the football to take advantage of a top ten passing offense, and to exploit Miami’s poor pass defense (27th). Besides, Miami is second in the league at stopping the run and the Colts’ running game is less than stellar.

Odds: Miami opened as three-point favorites but that number has fallen to one. With 24-hours left until kickoff, we could see some more movement there. The over/under is 43.

Take: Miami – This one will be decided by Miami’s defense, which currently gives up just 18 points per game. Only Chicago and San Francisco concede fewer points. The Dolphins have played tough all season, while the Colts have had a mixed-bag of performances. The Dolphins will cover the low spread, snapping the Colts’ three-game winning streak in the series. Take the under on 43.


Pittsburgh Steelers @ New York Giants

Much of the East Coast is still reeling in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, but regardless of whether you think the game should go ahead or not, the New York Giants (6-2, 3-1 home) will host Pittsburgh (4-3, 1-3 road) late Sunday afternoon.

With the team hotel flooded, the Steelers will fly in on the morning of the game, a factor that many believe gives the Giants an advantage. In reality, it’s a short flight and a later game so it probably won’t be that big a deal.

The Giants have the second best passing offense in the league, behind New England, but it’ll be up against Pittsburgh’s number one ranked pass defense. If the two cancel each other out, as they could well do, it’ll be up to the running game to put points on the board. Neither side has been particularly prolific running the football this season, but the advantage may come down to Pittsburgh’s superior rush defense, which ranks in the league’s top ten.

Historically, New York has dominated the head-to-head (44-28-3) but recently, neither team has been able to string two wins together in a row. The Giants won last time out (2008) so unless they buck a trend that dates back to 1991, it could be bad news for the blue side of New York this weekend.

Odds: The Giants opened as 4½-point favorites but have seen that figure drop to 3½ recently. The over/under is 47.

Take: Pittsburgh – The Steelers are a tough team, despite a mediocre record. Last week the side won its second straight game for the first time this year. The Giants may have won four in a row, but they’ll face a very tough defense. With the distraction of Hurricane Sandy, it’ll be tough to get past the Steelers. Take the total to go under; this is going to be a defensive battle.


Week 9 Schedule

Thursday: Kansas City 13-31 San Diego

Sunday: (1 PM ET) Arizona @ Green Bay | Detroit @ Jacksonville | Chicago @ Tennessee | Denver @ Cincinnati | Carolina @ Washington | Baltimore @ Cleveland | Miami @ Indianapolis | Buffalo @ Houston; (4:05 PM ET) Minnesota @ Seattle | Tampa Bay @ Oakland; (4:25 PM ET) Pittsburgh @ NY Giants; (8:20 PM ET) Dallas @ Atlanta

Monday: (8:30 PM ET) Philadelphia @ New Orleans

Bye: New England, NY Jets, San Francisco, St. Louis