Pick 'Over' Highest Betting Total of Week 4: Saints/Cowboys

Jason Lake

Saturday, September 27, 2014 2:08 PM UTC

Saturday, Sep. 27, 2014 2:08 PM UTC

So much offense, so little defense. You know there’s going to be fireworks Sunday night when the Dallas Cowboys host the New Orleans Saints. Sure enough, this game has the biggest total by far on the Week 4 NFL odds board.

Jason’s record after Week 3: 6-13 ATS, 3-3-1 Totals

Profit: Minus-13.6 units

Believe it or not, the Dallas Cowboys used to have a pretty good defense. They also used to have Wade Phillips as their head coach. However, it was back in 2010 when Phillips was given the heave-ho and replaced by former third-string QB Jason Garrett. The Cowboys have been miserable on defense ever since. They also haven’t made the playoffs, or even posted a winning record. Coincidence?

Garrett does know his offense, though. And this Sunday night (8:30 p.m. ET, NBC), his Cowboys will welcome the New Orleans Saints, another scoring machine with a former quarterback under the headset in Sean Payton – who played in Division I-AA at Eastern Illinois, and was an assistant coach there for current Cowboys QB Tony Romo. Coincidence? Okay, that one’s a coincidence. Point being, expect lots of scoring this week. There’s a fat total of 53.5 points on the Week 4 NFL lines, up from 53 at the open with about 70 percent of bettors hammering the 'over.'


The Thin Green Line
It’s rarely a good idea to bet the 'over' on extreme totals. Where do you draw the line these days, though? Here at the ranch, we used to be comfortable at 51 points, one of the more common combined final scores out there. Common during the 10 seasons between 2002 and 2011, that is:


Most Common NFL Final Scores (2002-11)

41        4.27 percent

37        4.09

44        3.97

43        3.56

51        3.56

33        3.22

If you were to plot all the results, you’d get a scrunched-up bell curve with 41 at the middle and a pretty steep decline from 33 downward and 51 upward.  Having said that, as you may have heard, scoring is up in the new NFL, from 22.2 points per team per game in 2011 to 23.4 points last year. Ah, but before we just tack on an extra point to our old line in the sand, note that scoring is back down to 22.4 points per game after three weeks of the 2014 campaign. Harrumph.


Defend Yourself
It’s still incredibly tempting to pound the 'over' for Sunday’s NFL picks, given the way these two teams have played this year. New Orleans is ranked No. 1 in the league in offensive efficiency (No. 10 pass, No. 2 rush) at Football Outsiders, while Dallas is moving up the charts at No. 14 (No. 22 pass, No. 8 rush) after a slow start. That’s efficiency, mind you, not raw scoring; the Saints (78 points) and Cowboys (77 points) are eighth and ninth in that category, respectively.

Now check out the other side of the ball – if you dare. This is where the Cowboys were supposed to struggle this year, beset by injuries and defections, and so it has come to pass: Dallas is ranked No. 24 in defensive efficiency (No. 16 pass, No. 26 rush) after three weeks. But look down, waaaaay down, and you’ll find New Orleans at No. 31 (No. 30 pass, No. 17 rush). Sweet baby corn, that’s some bad defense.

Both teams have made changes in the secondary for Week 4, but it’ll probably take more than that to keep a lid on Romo and Drew Brees. Especially Brees; he’s the No. 3 QB on the passing DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement) charts, just behind Matt Ryan and Peyton Manning. Romo has a lot of catching up to do at No. 24 overall, but hey, at least he’s ahead of Tom Brady. Let’s roll with the 'over' and let the prolate spheroid fall where it may.

Free NFL Pick: Bet one unit on Over 53 (+100) at Pinnacle

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