Dallas Cowboys at Atlanta Falcons
Sunday, November 12, 2017, 4:25 pm Eastern, TV: Fox, NFL Sunday Ticket
Mercedes-Benz Stadium – Atlanta, Georgia
Opening Line: Atlanta -3 (-115)
Current Line: Atlanta -3 1/2
Opening Total: 53
Current Total: 49
Opening Money Line: Falcons -190 / Cowboys +165
Current Money Line: Falcons -180 / Cowboys +160
Last year, the Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons had the two best records in the NFC. However, both their seasons ended with heartbreaking playoff losses. This year both have been inconsistent as they meet in a key battle with playoff implications for both teams Sunday in Atlanta. The Cowboys are 5-3 and in second place behind the 8-1 Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East. The Falcons are 4-4 and in third place in the NFC South behind the 6-2 New Orleans Saints and 6-3 Carolina Panthers. Dallas leads the series 16-10 against Atlanta but the Falcons have won the last two meetings including 39-28 in Dallas in 2015.
The big story is the on again off again suspension saga of Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott is back on. He will miss at least the next four games and likely the next six because of a suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy because of domestic violence allegations. He is not active Sunday and will face a hearing in early December to see if he can come back early from the six game suspension.
Dallas is coached by Jason Garrett. The Cowboys have home wins over the New York Giants 19-3 and Kansas City Chiefs 28-17 last week and road wins over the Arizona Cardinals 28-17, San Francisco 49ers 40-10 and Washington Redskins 33-19. The Cowboys have won three straight games. Dallas has a road loss at the Denver Broncos 42-17 and home losses to the Los Angeles Rams 35-30 and Green Bay Packers 35-31. Dallas was a 2.5 point favorite against Kansas City and the total was 53. The Cowboys are 5-3 ATS and the total is 5-3 this season.
Atlanta is coached by Dan Quinn. The Falcons have road wins over the Chicago Bears 23-17, Detroit Lions 30-26 and New York Jets 25-20, plus a home win over the Green Bay Packers 34-23. The Falcons have home losses to the Buffalo Bills 23-17 and Miami Dolphins 20-17, plus road losses to the New England Patriots 23-7 and Carolina Panthers 20-17 last week.. The Falcons have lost four of their last five games. Atlanta was a 3 point favorite against Carolina and the total was 42. The Falcons are 2-6 ATS and the total is 3-5 this season.
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Dallas is outscoring teams 28-22 this season. Dallas is #15 in points allowed and #4 in scoring. The Cowboys average 371 yards per game on offense including 222 passing and 148 rushing yards. The Cowboys are in the top seven in total and rushing offense. On defense, Dallas allows 325 total yards including 223 passing and 101 rushing yards. The Cowboys are 53/113 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 46/109. Dallas has forced 27 sacks and allowed 10 this season. Dallas is +3 in turnovers and has allowed two defensive touchdowns.
Quarterback Dak Prescott has completed 62.9% of his passes for 1,818 yards with 16 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. He also has 26 carries for 195 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns. He has been sacked ten times.
Running back Ezekiel Elliott has 191 carries for 783 yards and seven touchdowns, plus 19 catches for 210 yards and 2 touchdowns. Alfred Morris has 14 carries for 116 yards. Rod Smith will also get some carries, as will Darren McFadden who will be activated for the first time this season without Elliott.
Receiver Dez Bryant has 38 catches for 439 yards and 4 touchdowns. He is probable with an ankle injury. Terrance Williams has 30 catches for 357 yards. He is probable with an ankle injury. Tight end Jason Witten has 35 catches for 319 yards and 3 touchdowns. Brice Butler has 9 catches for 213 yards and 2 touchdowns. Cole Beasley has 22 catches for 165 yards and four touchdowns. He is probable with a concussion. Seven defensive players are injured or suspended. Kicker Dan Bailey is out indefinitely with a groin injury. The Cowboys signed veteran kicker Mike Nugent.
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Atlanta is being outscored 21.5-21.2 this season. The Falcons average 372 yards per game on offense including 258 passing yards and 115 rushing yards. Atlanta is in the top six in total and pass offense. On defense, Atlanta allows 322 yards per game including 207 passing and 115 rushing yards. Atlanta is #10 in pass defense. The Falcons are 38/99 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 48/115. Atlanta has forced 18 sacks and allowed 14 this season. The Falcons are -4 in turnovers and have allowed 2 defensive touchdowns.
Quarterback Matt Ryan has completed 65.6% of his passes for 2,157 yards with 11 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, plus 16 carries for 79 yards. He has been sacked 14 times. Ryan won the MVP last year but has struggled somewhat this season.
Running back Devonta Freeman has 114 carries for 512 yards and 5 touchdowns and also has 19 catches for 137 yards. He is probable with a knee injury. Tevin Coleman has 63 carries for 316 yards and a touchdown, and also has 16 catches for 198 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Receiver Julio Jones has 43 catches for 658 yards and a touchdown. He is probable with a knee injury. Tight end Austin Hooper has 25 catches for 331 yards and 2 touchdowns. Mohamed Sanu has 31 catches for 325 yards and 3 touchdowns. Taylor Gabriel has 20 catches for 245 yards and a touchdown. Justin Hardy has 10 catches for 112 yards and a touchdown. Eight defensive players are listed on the injury report for the Falcons. Kicker Matt Bryant is probable with a leg injury.
Dallas is 4-1 ATS in November, 11-4 after a cover, 22-8 on grass, 8-3 in week 10, 8-17 after allowing more than 250 passing yards and 5-12-1 after gaining 350 yards or more. The over is 4-1 in this series recently.
Atlanta is 4-1 ATS after rushing for less than 90 yards, 8-3 against NFC teams, 37-14-1 after allowing more than 150 rushing yards, 2-5-1 after allowing less than 150 passing yards, 2-6 in November, 1-4 in week 10 and on grass, 0-4 after a straight up loss and after failing to cover, and 0-5 overall. The favorite is 5-2 ATS in this series recently.
Atlanta is moving the ball but it isn’t translating to points. They have the same personnel that had such an explosive offense last year. The only difference is former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is now the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. Dallas has some questions of their own on offense without the dynamic Elliott. Still, I think the Cowboys still have enough to win games. I like Dallas to pull off the mild upset on the road.