Dallas at Atlanta
Sunday, 1:30 pm PT - FOX
CRIS Opener: Atlanta -3 O/U 50.5
CRIS Current: Atlanta -3 O/U 48.5
I understand that Zeke Elliott is an impact running back. I also understand that the Cowboys offensive line is mostly healthy now, and they’ve dominated for the better part of the last month. Dak Prescott is on fire, leading the team to 28+ points in each of their last six ballgames and making good decisions with the football week after week – he’s thrown only 2 INT’s during that entire six week span. And the trio of Alfred Morris, Rod Smith and Darren McFadden are more than capable of filling the void left by Elliott’s suspension.
The mainstream narrative is so predictable it’s not even funny. I’ve seen so many ridiculous quotes suggesting Dak Prescott will need to throw 50 times (he’s thrown more than 40 passes only twice in his 24 career starts) or Dallas has no identity without Zeke (running backs are replaceable, and every player on every team knows it). It’s all nonsense – remember, sports reporters are paid to produce content, not to be right. My power rating adjustment for Dallas following the Elliott suspension news was all of a half point, and the Cowboys have been prepping and planning for this since the summer.
The wiseguys continue to support the Falcons on a weekly basis, despite their obvious and continued struggles on both sides of the football and their propensity for blowing leads. Why the sharp love for Atlanta? Simple – their statistical profile looks great. The Falcons Super Bowl team from last year outgained foes by an average of 1.1 yards per snap (their yards-per-play differential between what they gain on offense vs. what they allow on defense), ranked #1 in the NFL. This year’s Falcons squad has outgained their opponents by 1.1 yards per snap, ranked #1 in the NFL, just like last year.
Sharps focus heavily on those yards per play stats – too heavily, in this bettor’s opinion! After all, the elite Patriots have been outgained by more than half a yard on a ypp basis this year, while a very suspect losing team like Cinci has a positive differential. The stats might show that this year’s Falcons version is every bit as good as last year’s squad, but the eye test does not.
A Falcons team that scored 58 offensive touchdowns last year is only at 17 TDs at the halfway point this year, with Steve Sarkisian unable to fill departed coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s big shoes. Atlanta has been favored four times in the last five weeks. They’ve lost three of those four games in SU fashion, with the offense unable to click during crunch time and the defense allowing 20+ in each of their last six contests.
The wiseguys are likely to keep betting on the Falcons until their statistical profile changes in a significant way. That gives savvy bettors a legitimate overlay to fade this vastly overrated commodity.