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NFL Week 7 Sunday Night Football Betting Preview
Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys (NBC, 8:20 p.m. ET)SNF Betting Results
The first potential 'over' of the year on SNF came up short by the hook last week, as a missed FG by the Chargers early in that game stung, along with the fact it took three quarters for the Chargers to look like they were interested in playing football. But I guess when your home field is actually a soccer stadium, the best way to pay homage to that is to look like a soccer team and put up a big fat zero on the scoreboard for the first 45 minutes of the game like the Chargers did.
This week we get a high stakes division game between the Eagles and Cowboys – the two teams that will likely battle it out for the NFC East crown by season's end – and the winner of this first meeting will get an early leg up with a little more than half the season left.
Both the Eagles and Cowboys come into this prime time spot off of disappointing losses – for very different reasons – as Philly got lit up and blown out by Minnesota last week, while the Cowboys (minus 2/5 of their OL) couldn't beat the lowly Jets in QB Sam Darnold's return. Yet, it's the Dallas loss that's making all the headlines this week because of the overall quality of opponent they lost too, as the annual October/November tradition of the sky is falling in Dallas has arrived in 2019.
HC Jason Garrett is always on the hot seat after a loss or two, talk about QB Dak Prescott being a franchise guy or being worth a big extension is always met with negativity after a loss, and discussion about if the team is actually 'good enough' or who many thought they really were coming into the year dominates mainstream airwaves. Considering this is an annual occurrence for the Dallas Cowboys, it makes you wonder why the people in the great city of Dallas don't walk around wearing helmets every day during football season for how frequently the falling sky above their heads tickles their hair follicles. But nothing is ever as bad (or good) as it seems for teams in the NFL, and with two sides to every story, it's time to dive into this game.
Total TalkTo be quite honest, there isn't much to like about this total at all. Obviously many bettors out there are waiting for the injury report on both sides before diving in, as the Eagles secondary (and defense as a whole) has been ravaged by injuries all year, while concerns about those two lineman on Dallas remain.
But from all reports it sounds like the Eagles secondary will be a bit healthier this week, and those two Dallas O-lineman should be back in action as well. They were active in warm-up vs the Jets last week and were kept out for precautionary reasons – likely because it was a non-conference game vs the Jets and Philly was on deck – so I would venture a guess that they are back in action. That would suggest a lean to the high side of this total – one that's already been bet up to 49 most places after opening at 48.5 – and if forced to make a play on this total that's probably where I'd go.
But I don't know if it's because of all the QB injuries the entire league has dealt with this year, or if the overall caliber of offensive play is just down in 2019, but the 'unders' have been the side in general with totals in 2019, and they still are perfect on SNF. There has been plenty of bad QB play all around, especially under the bright lights of prime time football, and until that changes I'm not looking to back the high side of a total on SNF.
Side SpielLine Movements
Speaking of bad QB play, while everyone questions Dak Prescott and his ability to perform at that position at this level, it's funny to me that the entire betting world ignores even giving a speck of criticism to Carson Wentz. Eagles fans will tell you he's Houdini back there in the pocket at times, but his best escape act appears to be avoiding criticism at all cost. Sure, his injury-plagued career is something that does give him the benefit of the doubt in a sense, but his best escape act is always avoiding a bad word said about his play.
Eagles fans will tell you that injuries, poor coaching/play-calling by HC Doug Pederson on offense and DC Jim Schwartz on defense, a poor secondary, poor drafting in terms of lack of depth, and just all-around mistakes by the supporting cast around Wentz is to blame for Philly's struggles in games this year.
And while the injury complaint is legitimate because no NFL team can thrive with injury concerns – especially when the bulk of them come to one position group of the team – I don't understand how Wentz himself gets a free pass in all of it. Can you tell me what Wentz has won at this level? What big games? Any?
Sure, Wentz caught lightning in a bottle with his play in 2017 before injuring his knee, but it's not like the Eagles went through a gauntlet of opponents in those first 13 games that year. The poor drafting/lack of depth wasn't an issue for them then when Nick Foles came in as a replacement, nor was the play-calling and issue on either side of the ball. The Eagles supporting cast was clearly good enough to go on and win a Super Bowl with Foles that year, and all of that was good enough for them in the latter half of 2018 when Wentz went on the shelf again and they nearly got back to the NFC Championship game. Yes, a few faces have come and gone during those two years, but this Eagles core went a combined 10-3 SU when Foles was under center in 2017 and 2018. Where were all the complaints about everything about this Eagles organization other than the QB position then?
In fact, you take away that 'lightning in a bottle' 2017 season for Wentz, the guy comes into this Dallas game this week with a 15-18 SU record in games he's started. You're telling me that his teammates haven't 'played' for him that often? Come on now. Wentz is the Dorian Gray of the NFL – he looks the part at 6'5 with a big arm, but he's hiding a lot of ugliness underneath the surface if you ask me.
Furthermore, we don't have to go too far back in the time machine to think of another NFC East QB who has plenty of comparables in terms of career arc. This guy was drafted 2nd overall like Wentz, the team gave up 4+ high draft picks to move up to that spot to take him, he caught lightning in a bottle in one (and only one) season where he made a Pro Bowl, had said season cut short by an ACL injury, and watched as his replacement took the reigns of that team and parlayed success there – with the same supporting cast and/or coaching staff – into a big contract (there or elsewhere) just like Nick Foles did. Oh and he also took too many unnecessary hits inside and outside of the pocket like Wentz does.
Anyone got the answer?
How about Robert Griffin III.
RG III's 2012 season in Washington was quite similar to what Wentz's 2017 was (minus the team winning the Super Bowl) and everyone knew then and in the subsequent years that RG III was not a viable long-term starting QB option in the NFL. And while the simple eye test would give Wentz a huge leg up over RG III (admittedly Wentz is much better in that he can accurately throw and has the size of the prototypical NFL QB) it's also why I refer to him as Dorian Gray. His best attribute is simply looking the part of a legit NFL QB and nobody sees the ugly truth that's hidden away in the attic. Wentz just isn't all he's cracked up to be, and for whatever reason avoids taking heat for it as the blame game gets pushed towards anyone and everyone else involved with that Eagles team.
You can argue that guys around him don't play for him, but even if we were to take that as truth, that's just as damning on Wentz for his inability to connect with his teammates and be a leader. But nobody ever wants to say that. Philly had to choose him over Foles because of age alone, and now they are saddled with Wentz for big money, who's shown throughout his young career that he's not even consistent at having the best ability any NFL player could have: availability.
So while the entire world may be spending this week ripping Dallas, questioning how legit they are, and not wanting anything to do with them after losing to a bad team like the Jets, I've got no problem pounding them against the number this week. For one, it's a great spot to bounce back, and two, the Eagles are a team that continues to be thought of as a decent to great team (when healthy).
Injuries are their biggest issue right now and there is no denying that, but yes, play-calling in a specific instant, or specific game, can be suspect, but it's not been a major concern for the better part of a few years now. If it was, or if the supporting cast around the Eagles was, Philly wouldn't have had all the late-season success they had the past two years when Foles was at the helm. Let's not forget that it was Foles who suggested “Philly Philly” to HC Doug Pederson in the Super Bowl too.
Final ThoughtsDallas isn't without it's warts either as the jury's still out on Prescott and rightfully so. But when you've got an offensive line like the one they've got, and a RB like they do, there is plenty for an 'average' QB to lean on to get the job done. The Cowboys are at home – a place where home field advantage for them has grown to league average the past year or two – and went the cautious route last week to make sure they were as healthy as could be for this week's game, even if it meant getting needlessly slandered by the masses for a week.
At 2-4 ATS against the spread this year, and allowing 27 or more points in four of their of six games this year, this Eagles team is one that deserves to continue to be bet against for the foreseeable future in my opinion. And losing in Dallas on Sunday night likely will be the beginning of the end for their chase of a division title in 2019, that is unless the Cowboys start to become a soap opera like they are known to do and let the Eagles back into the hunt.
In Dorian Gray, his true image eventually gets exposed to the world, and until that happens with Wentz and this Eagles team, I'll continue to look to take these short spreads that Philadelphia opponents are getting.
Best Bet: Dallas -2.5
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