NFL Betting Preview: New Orleans Saints At Dallas Cowboys

New Orleans Saints at Dallas Cowboys
Sunday, December 23, 2012, 1:00 pm Eastern, TV: Fox, NFL Sunday Ticket
Cowboys Stadium – Arlington, Texas
Opening Line: Dallas -3 (+100)
Current Line: Dallas -1 (-130)
Opening Total: 51 1/2
Current Total: 51 1/2
Opening Money Line: Cowboys -130 / Saints +110
Current Money Line: Cowboys -140 / Saints +120

Titans Vs Cowboys Betting Preview

The Dallas Cowboys are a slight favorite at home against the New Orleans Saints in a must win game for both teams.

The Dallas Cowboys are 8-6 this season and tied with the Washington Redskins and New York Giants for first place in the NFC East with two games to play. If Dallas or Washington win their last two games then they will win the division regardless of what New York does. The Cowboys and Redskins play each other in Washington next week to close out the season.

However, Dallas still has to take care of business on Sunday as they host the 6-8 New Orleans Saints. The Saints still have an outside shot of making the playoffs, but have to win out and get a lot of help.

The Saints are coached by interim coach Joe Vitt. New Orleans crushed Tampa Bay 41-0 last week to snap a three game losing streak and keep their slim playoff hopes alive. The Saints are 7-7 ATS and the total is 8-6 this season.

The Cowboys are coached by Jason Garrett. Dallas has won 5 of their last 6 games including 3 in a row. The last 4 wins have been decided by 5 points or less, including a 27-24 overtime win over the Steelers at home last week. Dallas is 6-8 ATS and the total is 7-7 this season.

New Orleans has beaten Dallas 4 of the last 5 times they have played including 30-27 in Dallas in 2010.

The Saints are averaging 397.9 yards per game on offense, including 298.1 passing yards and 99.9 rushing yards. New Orleans is outscoring teams 27.8-27.1 this season. The Saints are in the top 4 in the league in total offense, passing, and scoring, but 24th in rushing. The Saints are +1 in turnovers. New Orleans has allowed 24 sacks and forced 27. The Saints are 82/188 on third and fourth down conversions. On defense, the Saints are allowing 433.3 yards per game, including 287 passing yards and  146.3 rushing yards. The Saints are 27th or worse in all defensive categories, including dead last in total defense and 31st against the rush and the pass. The Saints have four defensive/special teams touchdowns.

Quarterback Drew Brees has completed 62% of his passes for 4,335 yards with 36 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. He has been sacked 24 times but has a rushing touchdown. Brees has struggled the last 4 games with 9 interceptions. In the prior 8 games, he had only thrown 5 interceptions total. He had thrown a touchdown pass in an NFL record 54 straight games before the Atlanta loss, but that streak ended against the Falcons three weeks ago.

Running back Mark Ingram has 125 carries, 510 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 5 catches for 22 yards.  Pierre Thomas has 98 carries, 457 yards, and a touchdown, along with 32 catches for 293 yards. Thomas is probable with a knee injury.  Chris Ivory has 36 carries, 195 yards and 2 touchdowns. He is questionable with a hamstring injury after missing the last two games. Darren Sproles returned from a broken hand four weeks ago. He has 36 carries for 195 yards and a touchdown along with 60 catches, 463 yards and 6 touchdowns. He also returns kicks and punts, and averages 29 yards per kick return and 8 yards per punt return.

Receiver Marques Colston has 68 catches, 949 yards and 8 touchdowns. Lance Moore has 57 catches, 890 yards and 5 touchdowns. Tight end Jimmy Graham has 69 catches, 778 yards and 8 touchdowns. Devery Henderson has 21 catches, 300 yards and a touchdown. Joe Morgan has 3 touchdown catches. Four offensive tackles and four defensive players are questionable or out Sunday.

Dallas is averaging 375.1 yards per game on offense, including 294.8 passing yards and 80.4 rushing yards. The Cowboys are #8 in total offense and #4 in passing, but #31 in rushing. Dallas is being outscoring 24.1-23.4 this season. The Cowboys are -9 in turnovers. Dallas has forced 33 sacks and has allowed 32 this season. The Cowboys are 92/199 on third and fourth down conversions. On defense, Dallas is allowing 340.3 yards per game including 225.1 passing yards and 115.2 rushing yards.  The Cowboys have four defensive/special teams touchdowns this season.

Quarterback Tony Romo has completed 66.7% of his passes for 4,269 yards with 22 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. He has been sacked 32 times and has a rushing touchdown. Running back DeMarco Murray is probable against the Saints with a foot injury that kept him out of six games earlier in the season. The Cowboys run the ball much better when Murray is in the line-up and the offense score more points than when Romo has to throw the ball 40 times a game. Murray has 133 carries, 547 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 29 catches for 190 yards. Felix Jones has 106 carries, 378 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 25 catches, 262 yards and 2 touchdowns. Lance Dunbar and Phillip Tanner will also get a few carries each game.

Receiver Dez Bryant has 79 catches, 1,087 yards and 10 touchdowns. He is probable with a broken finger that will require surgery in the off-season Tight end Jason Witten has 97 catches, 923 yards and 2 touchdowns. He needs 5 catches to break Tony Gonzalez’s record for receptions in a season by a tight end. Miles Austin has 62 catches, 898 yards and 5 touchdowns. Kevin Ogletree, Cole Beasley, and Dwayne Harris will also get a few catches as well. Ogletree has 3 touchdown catches. Harris has a punt return for a touchdown.

The Cowboy defense is banged up right now with 14 players listed as questionable or on injured reserve. The list of injured players includes Jay Ratliff, DeMarcus Ware,  Orlando Scandrick, Bruce Carter, Kenyon Coleman, and Sean Lee.

New Orleans is 7-1 ATS after allowing 90 rushing yards or less, 6-1 in December, 11-3 after a straight up win, 12-4 after a cover, 15-5 on fieldturf, 14-5 after allowing 250 passing yards or more, 5-2 after a straight up win of more than 14 points, 16-7 against teams with winning records, 11-5 in Week 16, 13-6 after gaining more than 350 total yards, 13-6 in NFC games, 2-5 after scoring more than 30 points, and 1-4 in road games against teams with winning home records. The underdog has covered the last 7 games in this series. The Saints are 5-2 ATS in the last 7 against the Cowboys.

Dallas is 8-17 ATS in December, 7-18-1 after rushing for less than 90 yards and in NFC games, 7-20 after allowing 350 yards or more, 4-12 on fieldturf, 4-13 after a straight up win, 3-10 against teams with losing records, 3-13 at home, 1-5 in Week 16, and after gaining more than 350 yards, 1-6 after allowing less than 90 rushing yards, and at home against teams with losing road records.

Even though New Orleans is still mathematically alive for the playoffs it would take a miracle for that to happen. Dallas has to win this game, and this has recently been a game they would lose. Jason Garrett could be coaching for his job. I think Dallas wins, but the Saints keep it close in a shootout.

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