NFL Betting Picks Week #9: Arizona Cardinals at Dallas Cowboys

Arizona Cardinals at Dallas Cowboys
AT&T Stadium – Arlington, Texas

Sunday, November 2, 2014, 1:00 pm Eastern, TV: Fox, NFL Sunday Ticket
Opening Line: Dallas -4
Current Line: Dallas -2 1/2
Opening Total: 45
Current Total: 44 1/2
Opening Money Line: Cowboys -160 / Cardinals +140
Current Money Line: Cowboys -135 / Cardinals +115

Dallas is a 2.5 point favorite at home against Arizona in a battle of NFC playoff contenders.
Dallas is a 2.5 point favorite at home against Arizona in a battle of NFC playoff contenders.

When the NFL schedule was released few if any experts and fans thought the scheduled mid-season meeting between the Arizona Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys would have potential massive NFC playoff implications. It is still a long season, but right now the 6-1 Arizona Cardinals and 6-2 Dallas Cowboys lead their respective divisions. Arizona is in first place in the NFC West by 2 games over the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks. The Cardinals are also tied for the best record in the league with the Denver Broncos. Dallas leads the NFC East by a half game over the Philadelphia Eagles.

Since 2001, Arizona leads the series against Dallas 5-4. The Cardinals have won 3 straight games against the Cowboys including 19-13 in Arizona in the last meeting in 2011. Arizona has not played in Dallas since 2005. The Cardinals and Cowboys were long time division rivals until 2002 when the NFL realigned to it’s current 8 division format.

Arizona is coached by Bruce Arians. The only loss for the Cardinals came at the Broncos 41-20. Arizona has won 3 straight games since that game. The Cardinals have home wins over the San Diego Chargers 18-17, San Francisco 49ers 23-14, Washington Redskins 30-20 and last week against the Eagles 24-20. Arizona also has road wins at the New York Giants 25-14 and Oakland Raiders 24-13. The Cardinals are 5-2 ATS and the total is 2-5 this season. Arizona was a 1 point favorite against Philadelphia and the total was 48.5.

Dallas is coached by Jason Garrett. The Cowboys lost at home to the 49ers 28-17 and Monday night at home to the Washington Redskins 20-17 in overtime. The loss snapped a 6 game winning streak for Dallas. The Cowboys have road wins at the Titans 26-10, St. Louis Rams 34-31, and Seattle Seahawks 30-23, plus home wins over the New Orleans Saints 38-17, Texans 20-17 in overtime, and against the Giants 31-21. Dallas is 5-3 ATS and the total is 4-4 this season. The Cowboys were 9 point favorites against the Redskins and the total was 49.

Arizona is outscoring teams 23-20 this season. The Cardinals are #5 in points allowed. Arizona is averaging 329 yards per game on offense including 240 passing and 89 rushing yards per game. The Cardinals are #24 in total offense and #28 in rushing. On defense, Arizona is allowing 381 yards per game including 303 passing and 78 rushing yards per game. The Cardinals are last in pass defense and #3 in rush defense. Arizona is 47/107 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 43/102. The Cardinals have forced 7 sacks and allowed 11 this season. Arizona is +9 in turnovers. The Cardinals have two defensive and special teams touchdowns.

What has made the Cardinals’ great start even more remarkable is the fact that Arizona has used 3 quarterbacks this season. Carson Palmer missed three games with a nerve issue in his throwing shoulder. He was replaced by Drew Stanton. Even rookie Logan Thomas took some snaps against the Broncos when Stanton was injured. Palmer has started the last 3 games. He has completed 61% of his passes for 1,136 yards with 8 touchdowns and a touchdown. Stanton has thrown for 529 yards with 2 touchdowns. Thomas was only 1/8 against the Broncos but the one completion was an 81 yard touchdown pass.

Running back Andre Ellington has 128 carries for 464 yards with 2 touchdowns, plus 28 catches for 274 yards and a touchdown. Jonathan Dwyer will also get a few carries. Running back Stepfan Taylor is out indefinitely with a calf injury. Receiver Larry Fitzgerald has 30 catches for 443 yards and 2 touchdowns. Michael Floyd has 19 catches for 343 yards and 2 touchdowns. John Brown has 22 catches for 316 yards and 4 touchdowns. He is probable with an ankle injury. Tight end John Carlson has 16 catches for 165 yards. Seven defensive players are questionable to out for the Cardinals.

Dallas is outscoring teams 27-21 this season. The Cowboys are #8 in scoring and #9 in points allowed. Dallas is averaging 401 yards per game on offense including 240 passing and 161 rushing yards per game. The Cowboys are #4 in total offense and lead the league in rushing. The Cowboys were projected to have one of the worst defenses in NFL history but they have overachieved this season. Dallas is allowing 352 yards per game including 237 passing and 115 rushing yards per game. Dallas is 60/108 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 46/107. Dallas has 10 sacks and has allowed 17 this season. The Cowboys are -2 in turnovers. Dallas has one defensive touchdown and has allowed 3 this season.

Dallas quarterback Tony Romo injured his back against the Redskins. He missed most of the second and third quarters, but returned in the fourth. Romo was diagnosed with 2 small fractures in his back. He is listed as questionable as it is just a matter of his pain tolerance. If Romo can’t go then Brandon Weeden will get the start. Romo has completed 68.2% of his passes for 1,998 yards with 15 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. Weeden completed 4 of 6 passes for 69 yards and a touchdown in relief of Romo against Washington in his only ¬†action of the season.

Running back DeMarco Murray is putting up some MVP like numbers and has 206 carries for 1,054 yards and 7 touchdowns, along with 26 catches for 239 yards. He became the first running back in NFL history to rush for over 100 yards in the first 8 games of the season, but has had some fumbling issues. Joseph Randle has 21 carries for 143 yards. Receiver Dez Bryant has 48 catches for  620 yards and 5 touchdowns. Terrance Williams has 25 catches for 407 yards and 6 touchdowns. Tight end Jason Witten has 28 catches for 336 yards and 2 touchdowns. Gavin Escobar only has 7 catches but 3 touchdowns. Ten defensive players are listed on the injury report.

Arizona is 4-0 ATS against NFC teams, 6-1 in road games, 5-1 overall, 9-2 after a straight up win, 8-2 after a cover and after allowing 350 total yards or more, 4-1 in week 9, and after allowing more than 250 passing yards, 10-3 after rushing for less than 90 yards, 5-2 after passing for more than 250 yards, 5-2-1 on fieldturf, and 3-7-1 against teams with winning home records.

Dallas is 5-0 ATS after allowing more than 350 total yards, 4-1 against NFC teams, 6-2 against teams with winning records, 9-3 after gaining more than 350 total yards, 5-2 overall, 1-4 when playing on a Sunday after a Monday night game, and after allowing more than 250 passing yards, 1-5 in November, and 0-4 in week 9. The home team is 8-1 ATS in this series recently. The Cowboys have covered the last 5 games against the Cardinals in Dallas.

I would feel better about Dallas being able to exploit Arizona’s terrible pass defense with a healthy Romo. This game will come down to the Cowboys’ leading rushing attack versus the Cardinals’ stellar rush defense. Both teams are banged up on defense, so this could be a high scoring game. I think the Cardinals pull off the mild upset on the road.

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