NFL Picks Eagles -2.5 vs. Cowboys

Darin Zank

Monday, December 23, 2013 3:48 PM GMT

The cards have fallen just right, setting up another season-ending showdown between the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys to decide the NFC East, Sunday night in Arlington (8:30 pm ET, NBC).

This preview/pick was written before word came that Dallas QB Tony Romo would miss this game and possibly the rest of the season because of a back injury suffered Sunday against Washington.

ESPN first reported the news about Romo Monday afternoon.

If those reports are accurate, and Romo can't play, the Cowboys would have to go with Kyle Orton, who's thrown a total of 15 passes while serving as Dallas' back-up QB the last two seasons.

Most books opened this game with Philly favored by 2.5 points; after the Romo news came out most shops took this game off the board, to re-think the situation. Those that re-opened this game later in the day Monday were now chalking the Eagles at upwards of -7.5.

As long as the line stays under 10 points we'll stick with our pick on Philly for this game.

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys

Philly owns first place at the moment, but Dallas own the head-to-head tiebreaker, which would come into play if the Cowboys can beat the Eagles.

This rivalry game involves a home dog in the NFL betting odds. Which way might it fall? Here's our take.

Eagles-Cowboys: The Line

As of Monday morning most sportsbooks were listing Philly as a 2.5-point road favorite for Sunday night's game, with a total of 55.5.

Eagles-Cowboys Game Set-Up

Philly bounced back after having a five-game winning streak broken last week to trounce Chicago Sunday night 54-11, covering easily as a three-point home favorite. The Eagles jumped out to a 24-0 lead and piled on in the fourth quarter with three in-your-face scores.

Philly, the top rushing team in the league, gouged Chicago's league-worst run defense for 289 yards on the ground Sunday.

Meanwhile the Eagles defense has now held opponents to 21 points or less in 10 of their last 11 games.

On the other side of this match-up Dallas reversed that brutal giveaway loss to Green Bay last week with some late-game heroics of its own, getting a Romo-to-Murray score with a minute left to win at Washington Sunday 24-23. The Cowboys led that game at the half 14-6, allowed the Redskins to score 17 straight points, then rallied for two scores in the last seven minutes for the victory.

Dallas has now played four one-point games this season, winning one of them. 

So Philly, at 9-6, leads the 8-7 Cowboys by a game in the NFC East. But a Dallas win Sunday forges a tie, and the Cowboys would own the tiebreaker, having swept the season series from the Eagles.

Eagles-Cowboys By the Numbers

Philly ranks second in the league in total offense and first in rushing, averaging 162 yards per game.

Defensively the Eagles rank 30th overall but 12th vs. the run, allowing 108 YPG on the ground. And a good portion of that yardage Philly has given up has come while opponents try to play catch-up.

Dallas ranks 22nd in total offense and 24th in rushing, at 97 YPG, while defensively they rank dead last overall and 27th vs. the run, giving up 128 YPG.

Eagles-Cowboys Recent History

Coach Kelly has faced Dallas one time so far, and it didn't go too well for Philly. The Cowboys, of all teams, held the Eagles to a season-low three points in a 17-3 Dallas victory at the Linc back in October.

Philly was going through a QB situation at that moment; Michael Vick was injured and out, and Nick Foles got hurt in the third quarter. Rookie Matt Barkley mopped up, and was given his first career NFL start the following week, a loss to the Giants.

Foles returned the next week, and since then the Eagles are 6-1 SU and 5-2 ATS.

Eagles-Cowboys Betting Trends

Philly is 8-7 ATS this season, 6-3 ATS in Foles' nine starts, 5-2 ATS on the road.  

Dallas is also 8-7 ATS, 4-3 ATS at home, 1-0 ATS as a home dog.

The Eagles are 9-6 on the OVER/UNDERS this year, as their games have averaged 52 total points.

The Cowboys are also 9-6 on the totals, as their games have averaged 55 points.

Philly also clinches the division title with a tie Sunday. In the unlikely event this game goes to overtime, those out there who might bet on that overtime should keep that in mind.

Our Take on Sunday Night's Game

From what we can tell Philly is simply the better and more consistent team at the moment. The Eagles have won six of their last seven games, and while their offense gets most of the ink, their defense has been key; since getting bombed by Denver back in Week 4, Philly has allowed more than 21 points just once. 

On the other side of this coin, we honestly don't know what we're going to get from Dallas from week to week. Bad interceptions, beautiful TD passes, blown leads, comebacks, squeakers, blowouts – it's a crap-shoot trying to figure this team out.

The Eagles have out-rushed opponents this season by 54 YPG, while the Cowboys have been out-rushed by 31 YPG. So far this NFL season teams that win the ground battle have covered the spread in 62 percent of games.

So we'll go with Philly at the -2.5 points (-115) offered at The Greek for our free NFL pick for Week 17.

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