NFL Picks: Sportsbooks on the Mark with Saints Cowboys Spread

Jason Lake

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 12:40 PM UTC

Wednesday, Sep. 24, 2014 12:40 PM UTC

If you love offense, and you’re highly allergic to defense, then you’ll love this week’s episode of Sunday Night Football. The Dallas Cowboys are getting three points on the NFL odds board as they prepare to host the New Orleans Saints.

Jason’s Record After Week 3: 6-13 ATS, 3-3-1 Totals

Profit: minus-13.6 units


Like they used to teach on Sesame Street, sometimes it pays to be last. We’re always preaching about how sharp NFL handicappers are always pouncing on the early football lines. But sometimes, it’s better to wait until the last moment. Like when you’re going to fade the most massively public team in the league.

That would be the New Orleans Saints. They opened as 2.5-point road faves on the NFL odds (–130) for their Sunday Night Football date with the Dallas Cowboys, and just as they were the last time we checked in, the Saints are available at the slightly higher price of  –3 at 5Dimes(–115) as we go to press. Expect even more movement later in the week as the pro-New Orleans contingent drops its payload on Sunday’s game.


The DC Abides
As promised, we’ve got some fresh, piping-hot Week 3 DVOA stats for you, right out of the oven. The good news for Saints fans: Your team now has the best offense in the NFL (No. 10 pass, No. 2 rush). The bad news: New Orleans is also No. 31 in defensive efficiency (No. 30 pass, No. 17 rush), ahead of only the Cleveland Browns. That’s not what was supposed to happen in Year Two under defensive co-ordinator Rob Ryan.

As much as everyone wants to cheer for Ryan and his luxurious mane, a defensive co-ordinator is only as good as this year’s players. We saw Steve Spagnuolo get turfed after just one season in the Big Easy, thanks largely to the impact of the 2012 Bountygate scandal suspensions. Then Ryan came aboard last year and the reloaded Saints improved from No. 32 to No. 10 in defensive efficiency, making the playoffs again in the process. Now Ryan has to reload again.

That process is already underway. The Saints shuffled the deck before last week’s game against the Minnesota Vikings, taking overmatched CB Patrick Robinson out of the mix and giving Corey White the start. It was a positive move that helped New Orleans hold the Vikings to 247 yards of total offense – although we are talking about the Vikings here, without RB Adrian Peterson and with rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater pressed into action.


You’ve Got Some Spraining to Do
The Saints also have a hole to fill on offense. Center Jonathan Goodwin officially has a high-ankle sprain, and according to “league sources” will be out indefinitely. There doesn’t seem to be too much concern about back-up center Tim Lelito, who nearly won the starting job in camp. But Goodwin was playing very well on an offensive line that ranked No. 3 overall in run blocking efficiency and No. 5 in pass protection, giving up just two sacks after three games.

Will the Cowboys be able to take advantage? They have many of the same issues as New Orleans, especially their dubious linebacker corps, and they’re also making changes in the secondary with Orlando Scandrick replacing Morris Claiborne in the starting lineup. In fact, there are so many similarities here that we’re recommending you save this game for filling out your office pool, if you’re doing the old weekly pick-all-the-winners format.

But don’t worry, NFL betting fans: We’ll have a recommendation on Sunday night’s total for you later in the week. And given that it’s the Saints and Cowboys throwing bombs at each other, we imagine more people will want to bet the total than the spread for their NFL picks anyway.


The Five Stars
Injuries/Suspensions/Travel/Rest: NO

Defense/Special Teams: EVEN

Coaching: NO

Market Bias: DAL

Betting Line Value: DAL

Verdict: 0-star pick

Free NFL Pick: Play the Saints in weekly office pools

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