Baltimore at Dallas
Time: NOON CT (CBS)
Spread: DAL -8.5
Betting odds c/o 5dimes
The Baltimore Ravens have won two-straight to improve to 5-4 and sit atop the AFC North Division. It will travel to face the Dallas Cowboys as 8.5 point underdogs on CBS on Noon (CT) Sunday. The Ravens are coming off a 28-7 pouncing of the Browns, but the Cowboys are 8-1 and are 3-1 at home SU this season.
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The Cowboys lost week 1 to the New York Giants but have reeled off eight straight victories since.
Last week they defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 35-30, as Dak Prescott threw 22 of 32 for 319 yards and two TDs. Ezekiel Elliot had a big day with 114 rushing yards and two rushing TDs as well as 95 receiving yards on two catches, including a receiving TD. Elliot was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2016 draft and already has 1,000 rushing yards on the season in under 200 attempts. He has another 250 receiving yards. Elliot has rushed for 140, 138 and 134 yards over the past three weeks, and against the Cincinnati Bengals he had 134 yards on just 15 attempts with two TDs. The rookie has hardly disappointed.
Of course, Prescott has been superb in his own right. He has 2,339 yards on the season at a 66.8 percent completion clip with 14 TDs and just two picks. Prescott has incurred 13 sacks, but his 0.7 percent interception ratio perfectly displays why he is the top young QB he is. He has a 106.2 passer rating. Wide receivers Cole Beasley, Jason Witten and Dez Bryant have all benefitted and have over 1400 yards and nine TDs between them as a trio. Beasley has accounted for 30 Cowboys’ first downs, trailing only Elliot’s 58 out of the backfield (and seven more as a receiver). The Cowboys are loaded at all the skill positions, and the difference has been that they are now a dominant football team.
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Dallas ranks No. 1 in the NFL in rushing yards (161.0 per game) and middle of the pack in passing yardage at 251.7—despite a highly efficient arial attack that has mostly lingered due to Elliot’s overwhelming need for touches. The Cowboys average 28.7 points per game while holding opponents to just 18.9 per game (No. 8). The Cowboys have a +9.8 point differential this season.
Baltimore prevailed 21-14 over Pittsburgh two weeks ago and defeated the winless Browns last week. Prior to that the Ravens were losers of four straight to Oakland, Washington, N.Y. Giants, and N.Y. Jets. The Ravens are getting just 85.9 rushing yards per game, ranking No. 28 and its pass attack has generated just 247.1 yards per game (No. 19). The offense produces just 20.2 points per game, but defensively the Ravens have been good as usual.
Baltimore is holding opponents to just 17.8 points per game, ranking No. 3 in the NFL. Zachary Orr has everything to do with it. He has 55 solo tackles and 22 assisted, with five tackles for loss and an interception and fumble recovery. Timmy Jernigan has 5.0 sacks and three tackles for 36 total yards lost. Terrell Suggs has six sacks and one tackle for loss, while the team has 22 sacks on the season.
The Ravens are getting just 3.5 yards per carry though, with no rushers of significance averaging more than 3.9 yards per attempt. Terrance West leads the team with 510 yards and three TDs, but he has just four rushes for more than 20 yards, two fumbles and the team-leading 3.9 yard per attempt average. Joe Flacco has been mediocre at QB, with nine interceptions matching his nine touchdowns and a 6.3 yard per attempt average on his 62.5 percent passing.
The veteran Flacco has also been sacked 20 times for 159 lost yards and has just a 78.3 passer rating. Mike Wallace and Steve Smith Sr. have been reasonably good receivers, but Wallace has caught just 43 of 72 targeted passes and Smith ranks No. 3 on the team in receptions (36) behind Wallace and TE Dennis Pitta (375 yards on 46 catches but no TDs). The Ravens are something of an offensive disaster, but its defense is good enough to keep it in games. It just may be too much to expect Baltimore to be able score sufficiently to match whatever Prescott and Elliot do to its defense.