NFL Betting: Decimated Dallas Hosts ATL
Sascha P.No comments
Rarely is there such pessimism about a 2-0 football team in the NFL, but after the Dallas Cowboys (2-0, 1-0 home) lost Tony Romo and Dez Bryant for months due to injury, few pundits are giving them much of a chance to remain among the league’s undefeateds. Backup QB Brandon Weeden will look to prove the doubters wrong tomorrow when he leads the Boys against the visiting Atlanta Falcons (2-0, 1-0 road).
The much-maligned Weeden actually looked solid in relief of Romo during the team’s 20-13 win over Philadelphia last weekend, going 7 of 7 for 103 yards and a major. But that was a rare gem from the former Brown, who has the second-lowest QBR in the league since 2012 according to Marc Sessler (ahead of only Blake Bortles). In his only start last season, Weeden was 18 of 33 with two picks in a 28-17 home loss to the Cardinals, and that was with Bryant (and RB DeMarco Murray) to lean on.
The good news for Dallas is that the vaunted o-line remains healthy. Feature back Joseph Randle is also 100-percent. But third-year player out of OK-State – who curiously said that Murray left some “meat on the bone” during his 1,800-yard rushing campaign last year – hasn’t been able to reproduce Murray’s performance to date, with just 116 yards through two games (and 3.8 yards per carry).
The Falcon run defense is nothing to gawk over, but with Weeden starting and Terrence Williams the only viable deep threat for the Cowboys, they will be able to stack the box and likely keep Randle under control.
With Dallas struggling to move the ball on offense (in all likelihood), this game should come down to the battle between the Atlanta passing game and the Dallas secondary/pass rush. The combination of QB Matt Ryan and WR Julio Jones has been nothing short of electric for the Falcons this season. Jones is second in the league in receiving yards (276 yards plus two touchdowns), and played a huge roll in the team’s double-digit, fourth-quarter comeback against the Giants in Week 2.
With Orlando Scandrick missing from the Dallas secondary, and Randy Gregory absent from the pass rush, Jones could be in for another big day. That said, the Cowboy defense has performed admirably to date, and LB Sean Lee has played like an All-Pro. Rod Marinelli is apt to have another solid game plan in place to contain Jones and force Atlanta to utilize its other, much less deadly, weapons.
There isn’t much reason to have confidence in Weeden, and the Dallas receiving corps looks very thin without Bryant. But the Cowboys still have a talented squad and Atlanta is just 5-12 on the road over the last three seasons. Getting points on Dallas at home still looks like better value at the end of the day.
Pick: Dallas +2.