NFL Picks: Saints vs. Cowboys Sunday Night Odds Report

Jason Lake

Tuesday, September 23, 2014 3:32 PM GMT

Tuesday, Sep. 23, 2014 3:32 PM GMT

Two of the NFL’s most popular teams are about to lock horns in Arlington. But these days, there’s no question football betting fans are more likely to follow the New Orleans Saints than the Dallas Cowboys.

Jason’s record after Week 2: 4-7 ATS, 1-2-1 Totals

Profit: minus-8.8 units

Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to America’s Team: The New Orleans Saints. Yes, the Saints. This prestigious fake title used to belong to the Dallas Cowboys (courtesy of their 1978 NFL Films highlight reel), but while the Cowboys still have their following, there’s no question where America’s heart lies in 2014. Need proof? According to the public money surveys, the Saints have pulled in more NFL betting action than anyone else after three weeks of play. Dallas ranks No. 14 overall.

Need more proof? New Orleans opened as a 2.5-point road chalk (–130) on the NFL Odds board for this week’s Sunday Night Football matchup (8:30 p.m. ET, NBC) with the Cowboys. And as we go to press, it’s the Saints getting the vast majority of bettors on our early consensus reports. They started at 100 percent and held firm at 67 percent after the football lines moved to –3 (–115). Eat it, Dallas.

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Data Restrictions Apply
Here’s the thing: Only one of these two teams is profitable heading into Week 4. The Cowboys shook off their season-opening loss to the San Francisco 49ers (–3.5 away) and won a pair of games on the road, downing the Tennessee Titans (–3) and the St. Louis Rams (+1.5). The Saints, on the other hand, started the season 0-2 SU and ATS with a pair of road losses to the Atlanta Falcons (+3) and the Cleveland Browns (+4.5), before barely cashing in last week against the Minnesota Vikings (+10 away).

Which of these team would you trust? Maybe neither at this point. According to Pro Football Reference, the Saints have only played well enough to draw a minus-11.9 on the Simple Rating System (SRS). The Cowboys have played even worse at minus-17.6 SRS; however, if you do a quick-and-dirty estimate by subtracting their two ratings, and give Dallas 2.5 points for home field advantage, you get something very close to Sunday night’s actual NFL spread.

We’re still waiting for the Week 3 DOVA charts from Football Outsiders as we go to press, but there probably won’t be much separation between these two clubs. After Week 2, the Cowboys were ranked No. 19 in overall efficiency (No. 18 offense, No. 22 defense, No. 5 special teams), while the Saints were No. 20 overall (No. 4 offense, No. 31 defense, No. 4 special teams). We’ll incorporate the fresh data when we make our NFL picks on this game's spread later in the week.

Where else are we looking for early betting value in Week 4?

I’ve Got Nothing Against Your Right Leg
Long-time readers are probably expecting a pick on the Cowboys. Before the season started, we had Dallas pegged as one of our five most undervalued teams, while New Orleans was an easy choice for our Top 5 overvalued teams. It’s been a crazy September for NFL betting, but at least these two clubs have fulfilled their expectations thus far. We’re likely to stick to the script in Week 4.

As always, injuries will play a major role in our decision-making process. The Cowboys went into the 2014 campaign at less than full capacity, but they didn’t absorb too much punishment against St. Louis; DT Henry Melton aggravated his groin injury, although he managed to play through it and even recovered an important fumble near the end of the first half. The Saints, on the other hand, lost starting center Jonathan Goodwin with an injured left leg. Tim Lelito will get the start Sunday night if Goodwin can’t go. This injury could be the difference in Sunday night’s game, so let’s get some clarification on Goodwin’s status before we take the plunge.

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