NFL Picks Preview: Patriots host Cowboys in what could be Sunday shootout

Dallas Cowboys at New England Patriots
Sunday, 10/16/11, 4:15 PM EST, TV:  FOX
Opening Point Spread:  New England -7
Current Betting Line:  New England -7
Opening Total:  54
Current Total:  55.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

Patriots Cowboys NFL Preview
Bill Belichik and Tom Brady will try to score 30+ points for the 13th game in a row on Sunday.

Two teams looking for improved defensive play that have relied heavily on their offenses will meet in Foxboro on Sunday when the New England Patriots put their 19-game regular-season home winning streak on the line against the Dallas Cowboys.  Both the Patriots (4-1) and the Cowboys (2-2) have been involved in many high-scoring games lately, so whoever plays better defense could end up winning this matchup.

The OVER is 20-6 in New England’s last 26 games overall and 7-1 in Dallas’ past eight on the road.  The Cowboys are coming off a bye week, which followed a disappointing 34-30 home loss to Detroit in which they blew a 27-3 lead.  Defensive breakdowns were a big reason for the monumental collapse in the second half for Dallas, and the team is hoping a week off helped the players regroup for the difficult task of trying to stop the NFL’s top offense.

The Cowboys are getting healthier and expect to have wide receiver Miles Austin back on the field after he missed the previous two games with a hamstring injury.  Austin will join Dez Bryant in the Dallas starting lineup for just the second time in four games, as Bryant also missed a 27-24 overtime victory at San Francisco with a thigh injury.  Quarterback Tony Romo fractured a rib in that game but has continued to heal over the past few weeks.

The Patriots (-7, O/U 55.5) are averaging nearly 500 yards of offense per game and can tie St. Louis’ league record for the most consecutive games with 30 points or more at 13.  New England QB Tom Brady is on pace to throw for almost 6,000 yards, although the team has tried to balance out the offense over the past couple games.

Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis led the Pats with a career-high 136 rushing yards and two touchdowns last week in a 30-21 home win over the New York Jets.  However, Green-Ellis suffered a toe injury that could limit him a bit against the Cowboys.  Rookie Stevan Ridley has also shown flashes in his brief playing time and will still get some carries regardless.

New England is still without linebacker Jerod Mayo due to a sprained MCL in his left knee.  Mayo participated in practice on Friday but is expected to rest at least another couple weeks with the team scheduled for a bye after this game.

The Patriots have won the last three meetings with Dallas both straight-up and against the spread.  The UNDER has cashed in four of the past five games between the teams.

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