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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 14:01 PM

TNF - Saints at Cowboys

Editor's Note: Antony Dinero went 51-23 (68.9%, +2502) in October and hit 22 of 32 totals (68.8%, +1115). Dinero has connected on 18 of 27 (66.7%,) Thursday plays and is 157-128-8 (55.1% , +1267) for the entire 2018 regular season. Don't miss out on NFL Winners from Antony Dinero on VegasInsider.com this sesaon. Click to win!


New Orleans (-7.5, 52) at Dallas, 8:20 pm ET, FOX/NFLN

Dallas star Ezekiel Elliott has run for 394 yards over his last three games, more than any running back has amassed over a three-game stretch all season. As November began with a 28-14 home loss to Tennessee, Jerry Jones wasn’t smiling much when shown from his luxury box perch.

Odds lists forecasting who could replace head coach Jason Garrett included retreads like John Fox and Jack Del Rio as things looked bleak for him as they headed into Philadelphia as a 7.5-point underdog.

The Cowboys (6-5 SU, 5-4-2 ATS) have averaged 26.7 points in victories over the Eagles, Falcons and Redskins and have tied Washington atop the NFC East as it enters this prominent Thursday night matchup against the Saints (10-1 SU, 9-2). Dallas isn’t good enough that any of its remaining tests look like gimmes, but it will be opening its final five-game stretch run with the toughest opponent it will see and won’t be this large an underdog again the rest of the regular-season.

In that sense, even though they’re home, the Cowboys are playing with house money. The pressure of flaming out this season is gone since they’ll be alive for their division title regardless of what happens here. Dallas is playing its fifth game in 25 days, an extremely busy stretch that surpasses what the Saints will be finishing up – 5 games in 26 days.




Elliott has run for over 100 yards and a touchdown in three consecutive contests. If he manages to top the century mark and find the end zone against the Saints, he’ll join Emmitt Smith (’95) and DeMarco Murray (’14) atop the Dallas record books as the only Cowboys to do so in four straight. Elliott already leads the NFL in rushing yards per game (97.6) for the third straight season and is in the kind of groove that is difficult to interrupt.

If you’re going to lay the points and ride the Saints, be sure to check the injury report below for news on how Elliott might have less space to work with.

New Orleans has surrendered just 3.2 yards per attempt, the lowest rushing average allowed in the NFL through 12 weeks. The Saints defense also tops the league in allowing rushing yards per game (73.2) and are first in allowing first downs on only 14.6 percent of carries. No running back has topped the 70-yard mark against New Orleans, so the determining factor in this game will be how effective Elliott can be in keeping the Cowboys out of third-and-long sitautions. Breaking off a big play or three will also likely be required for Dallas to find itself in this come the fourth quarter given how effective the Saints have been on offense.

The Drew Brees-led attack leads the league in scoring (37.2 ppg) and has topped the 30-point mark in nine of 11 games, topping 40 in three of the last four. The Cowboys haven’t surrendered a 30-point game all season, the only NFL team that can say that. The 28 points that the Titans scored on Nov. 5 are the most Dallas has given up, having contained Carson Wentz and Matt Ryan in back-to-back weeks to help turn things around before beating the Colt McCoy-led ‘Skins last week.

This will be a significant step up in class from what Dallas faced while you were diving into turkey last Thursday, but the Cowboys have been surprisingly stingy and rank third in the league in points allowed (19.4). They’ll have to figure out ways to stop the Saints in the red zone to keep this game on the low-scoring side since it’s going to be difficult to stop Brees and this up-tempo offense between the 20s with so many weapons and space to work with. Read below for thoughts on this game’s total, which has been bet down from it’s opening figure.

Alvin Kamara ranks second in the NFL in touchdowns with 15, currently only behind L.A. Rams’ RB Todd Gurley, who has reached the end zone 17 times. This will be his first game ever against the Cowboys and Elliott, who has largely been lauded as the top running back in the game despite Kamara’s emergence, so don’t be surprised to see him have a huge game.

Kamara is built that way and has done his own damage in becoming the first back in league history with 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards through their first 20 games. Kamara failed to score a touchdown for just the fourth time this season in the Thanksgiving night win over the Falcons, snapping a run of five straight contests with a score. He’s caught a single pass in each of the last few games, so expect the Saints to try to feed him early and take a shot on a receptions prop. More thoughts on those are below as well.

New Orleans is favored on the road for the fourth time in 2018 and comes in a perfect 3-0 SU an ATS and have won those games by an average of 20.6 points. The Saints’ overall margin of victory comes in at two touchdowns. They’ve covered on the road in all five of their wins and are looking to deliver for backers for a 10th straight time.

The Cowboys have covered in three straight and are a home underdog for the first time. Dallas is 4-1 at home and won its last game catching points at home when it beat Washington 38-14 on Nov. 30 of last year. It’s looking to win four straight games for the first time since 2016.

Louisiana native Dak Prescott will be facing the Saints for the first time and will be looking to build on a brilliant collaboration with new top receiver Amari Cooper, finishing with his highest rating of 2018 after throwing for a season-high 289 yards and two touchdowns. Cooper hauled in both scores, doing the bulk of the work on 90-yard scamper that broke Washington’s spirit. He’s been hit-or-miss with the Cowboys but more consistent than he was with Oakland, where he had games when he completely disappeared. I’d expect the game plan to get him involved early in order to keep New Orleans from keying on Elliott.

The Cowboys have flourished on Thursday night of late, winning four of five straight up. New Orleans handled Atlanta last Thursday but were beaten in Atlanta on a Thursday night in 2017, scoring a season-low 17 points.


New Orleans Saints
Season win total: 9.5 (Over -140, Under +120)
Odds to win NFC South: OFF to OFF
Odds to win NFC: 10/11 to 4/5
Odds to win Super Bowl: 2/1 to 7/4
 
Dallas Cowboys
Season win total: 8.5 (Over +120, Under -140)
Odds to win NFC East: 2/3 to 4/9
Odds to win NFC: 30/1 to 20/1
Odds to win Super Bowl: 60/1 to 40/1
 
LINE MOVEMENT

The Saints were a 6-to-5 favorite to win the NFC South according to the Westgate LV SuperBook when the season began and those odds are now off the board and have been for multiple weeks. Hopefully you're holding a Saints ticket. Dallas opened at 7-to-2 to win the NFC East, which is where it finds itself alongside Washington but is a heavier favorite than I would currently have them at.

The Cowboys paid +160 if you were of the opinion that they would make the playoffs, so that remains up in the air and those holding 'no' tickets at -190 are rooting hard for New Orleans tonight. The Saints look good for those who laid -180 on yes. The Saints were 7-to-1 to capture the NFC when the season began and the Cowboys were 15/1 when the season began. Dallas was 30/1 to win the Super Bowl and New Orleans was 14/1. Those Saints odds are far more lucrative than where they currently sit since emerging as the favorite to hoist the Super Bowl trophy.

As far as this matchup is concerned, the Saints were a 7.5-point favorite when the Westgate's early numbers were announced last week and opened there at most books. Westgate and Wynn opened at -7 and have done some adjusting over the course of the week. As of Thursday morning, you could find New Orleans -7 at many places and +7.5 is readily available if you're riding Dallas. [...] has the only +8 I've seen.

New Orleans is in the -320 range on the money line. If you like the home 'dog outright, a payout on a Cowboys win will get you +270 to +290 depending on the shop.


INJURY CONCERNS

Dallas tackle Tyron Smith will be a game-time decision after not practicing at all this week due to a neck injury. Guards Zack Martin and Xavier Su’a-Filo are also game-time decisions after being limited in practice this week and are expected to play despite being listed as “questionable.” Adam Redmond has cleared concussion protocol and Connor Williams has overcome a knee injury, so Dallas will have some depth up front, but being able to plug in Smith is critical since he hasn’t allowed a sack and has really thrived at left tackle.

New Orleans has already ruled out its left tackle, Terron Armstead, who hasn’t allowed a sack this season either. He’ll be missing his third straight game, so the Saints have been able to adequately replace him through the efforts of veteran Jermon Bushrod, but this will be their first road game without Armstead. Rookie WR Tre’Quan Smith, who has been bothered by a toe injury, is good to go, as are guard Andrus Peat, TE Dan Arnold, DE Marcus Davenport and corner P.J. Williams. The Saints are in great shape, health-wise, for a team entering their 12th game of the season.

Outside of all the uncertainty up front, the Cowboys have also ruled out DE David Irving (ankle) and LB Sean Lee (hamstring), two of their top defenders. They’ve done a much better job replacing the invaluable Lee in the middle of their defense than they have in previous years thanks to third-year pro Jaylon Smith and rookie Leighton Vander Esch, so their matchups with Kamara and Mark Ingram should also determine a lot in this matchup. DT Taco Charlton is due back in the lineup after a three-game absence due to a shoulder injury, but fellow DT Maliek Collins remains questionable with a knee injury.


TOTAL TALK

The ‘over/under’ on this matchup opened at 54 ½ and the number has dropped to 52 ½ points as of Thursday morning.

Weekly “Total Talk” writer Chris David of VegasInsider.com offered up his thoughts on this matchup:

When looking at this matchup, the phrase ‘sharps versus squares’ can be used for both the total and the side. The betting public are pressing New Orleans and the ‘over’ while the professionals are backing the ‘under’ and Dallas as a home underdog.

It’s hard to argue against the Saints, winners in 10 straight and they’ve covered the spread in nine of those games. From a total perspective, New Orleans has watched the ‘under’ go 6-5 on the season and that includes a 3-2 mark on the road. In last week’s 31-17 Thanksgiving win against Atlanta, the Saints did their part to help the game go ‘over’ but the Falcons couldn’t keep up and they certainly left points off the board.

The New Orleans defense doesn’t warrant much recognition but the unit is allowing 12.7 PPG the last three weeks and their scoring numbers (22.4 PPG) have been better away from the Superdome. Dallas has been consistently sound on defense all season, allowing 19.4 PPG which is ranked third in the NFL.

What’s strange about the Cowboys is that they’ve seen the ‘under’ go 6-5 on the season but the ‘over’ owns a 4-1 mark at AT&T Stadium and that includes last week’s 31-23 outcome against Washington on the holiday, which was helped with a big second-half.

The Cowboys have only seen one total close in the fifties this season and that game went ‘under’ in a 22-19 road win over Atlanta in Week 11 . Including that result, Dallas has seen the ‘under’ go 2-0 in games versus the NFC South. Meanwhile, New Orleans is 2-1 to the ‘under’ in games against the NFC East and its outscored opponents 124-44 in those contests.

For what it’s worth, the ‘over’ is on a 4-1 run in this series but the last meeting in 2015 went ‘under’ (48 ½) as New Orleans captured a 26-20 home win over Dallas.

Including last week’s ‘under’ result between the Saints and Falcons, the ‘over’ has gone 8-4 in the NFL midweek matchup this season. I wasn’t surprised by the New Orleans-Atlanta result and that’s a trend we’ve seen from the Saints, who are now 4-0 to the ‘under’ in their last four games on Thursdays. Rather than toy with the game total, my lean would be to the Saints Team Total ‘under’ 30 ½.

RECENT MEETINGS (New Orleans 4-2 SU, 3-3 ATS last 8; OVER 4-2)

10/4/15 New Orleans 26-20 OT vs. Dallas (NO -3, 48)
9/28/14 Dallas 38-17 vs. New Orleans (DAL +3, 53.5)
11/10/13 New Orleans 49-17 vs. Dallas (NO -5.5, 54)
12/23/12 New Orleans 34-31 OT at Dallas (NO +3, 54.5)
11/25/10 New Orleans 30-27 at Dallas (DAL +4.5, 49)
12/19/09 Dallas 24-17 at New Orleans (DAL +7.5, 53.5)


PROPS

Of the props available below at [...], I'd ride the second half being the game's highest-scoring and would take a shot at the first turnover being a fumble for a nice return.

Team to reach 10 points first: (Cowboys +180, Saints -220)
Team to reach 20 points first: (Cowboys +240, Saints -280)
Team to score first: (Cowboys +135, Saints -155)
Team to score last: (Cowboys +110, Saints -130)
First score: (Touchdown -185, FG/Safety +160)
First turnover: (None +800, Fumble +140, INT -150)
Highest scoring half: 1st -125, 2nd + OT +105)
Total FGs made by both teams: (3.5, Over (-105, Under -115)
Will there be a defensive or special teams TD?: (Yes +180, No -220)
Will there be a kickoff return touchdown?: (Yes +2000, No -5000)
Will there be a punt return touchdown?: (Yes +1600, No -3300)
Will there be overtime?: (Yes +1200, No -2000)
Will there be a lead of more than 16.5 points: (Yes -110, No -110)
Will there be a safety?: (Yes +1000, No -1500)
Will the game end in a tie?: (Yes +5000, No -25000)
Will there be a score in the final two minutes of 1st half?: (Yes -330, No +270)
Will the first coach's challenge be successful?:( Yes -115, No -105)
Will there be 3 straight scores by either team?: (Yes -250, No +210)


NEXT WEEK'S NUMBERS POSTED

Westgate Vegas opens its advance lines for the following week on Tuesdays and Week 14 currently has the Saints listed as an 11-point road favorite at the Bucs. The Cowboys will be back home in another huge game as they host the defending champion Eagles for the second time. Dallas is an early 3.5-point favorite.


Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA

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