Matt Cassel had a rough ride in his Dallas Cowboys debut. Everyone's rushing to put the Seattle Seahawks and the Legion of Boom defense in their Week 8 NFL picks.
Jason's 2015 record as of Oct. 28: 22-16-1 ATS; 0-1 ML (-1.00 units); 18-26 Total
The Dallas Cowboys wanted someone who could throw the ball deep. Tony Romo is still on injured reserve until Week 11 at the earliest, and they got tired of Brandon Weeden dinking and dunking his way up the field. So they gave Matt Cassel the ball last week against the New York Giants. Problem solved: According to Football Outsiders, Cassel had five pass plays of 20 yards or more against New York.
Oh, there was just one other thing. The Giants also picked Cassel off three times en route to a 27-20 win as 3-point home faves. Now Cassel and the Cowboys have to face the Seattle Seahawks and their infamous Legion of Boom secondary this Sunday (4:25 p.m. ET, FOX) in Arlington. Dallas opened as a 5.5-point home dog on our NFL odds board, then moved to +6 and higher after two-thirds of early bettors unloaded on the Seahawks.
So are the Cowboys any better with Cassel at the helm? He finished last week's game with –54 Total DYAR, ranking No. 20 among the 28 quarterbacks who played in Week 7. Here's how Weeden fared in his three starts:
Week 3 vs. Atlanta: +46 DYAR (No. 13)
Week 4 at New Orleans: +35 DYAR (No. 14)
Week 5 vs. New England: –48 DYAR (No. 25)
Weeden only threw two picks in those three starts, but he also connected on just one TD pass, and opposing defenses got better and better at dealing with him once it was obvious the long ball wasn't in play. The Cowboys would rather risk getting burned on deep throws if that's what it takes to move the chains. Fair enough – especially with WR Dez Bryant (foot) returning to practice on Wednesday for the first time in over a month. But wouldn't Weeden have made more deep throws with Bryant on the field?
Meanwhile, Seattle's defense is coming off a strong performance in a 20-3 win over the San Francisco 49ers (+6.5 at home). The Seahawks will have the benefit of extra rest after playing last Thursday night, and they can look forward to the bye next week. The time off will help the Legion of Boom prepare for Cassel and the Cowboys, both in the film room and on the trainer's table.
It's also giving Seattle the chance to hold some tryouts and look for some reinforcements on offense. RB Bryce Brown has been signed off the scrap heap to back-up Marshawn Lynch, and the Seahawks have kicked the tires on a number of offensive linemen. Consider keeping an eye on the news wires to see what tweaks are made over the next few days before making your NFL picks, and may the prolate spheroid be with you.