Dallas Cowboys at New Orleans Saints (-6.5, 53.5)
The Dallas Cowboys have had trouble away from home and face a difficult road test when they visit the New Orleans Saints on Sunday night. New Orleans is undefeated at home and leads the NFC South by one game, but is coming off an ugly offensive performance in a 26-20 defeat at the New York Jets last week. The game features a juicy subplot - Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan gets to face the team that fired him from the same position after last season.
Dallas owns a one-game lead atop the NFC East following a last-minute, come-from-behind victory over the Minnesota Vikings last week. It marked another close call for the Cowboys, who have lost three of their four games by a combined five points. Dallas has dropped two straight and seven of eight against the Saints, including a 34-31 overtime home loss in December 2012 - a game in which New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees threw for 446 yards and three touchdowns.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC
LINE: The Saints opened at -7 and have been bet down to -6.5. The total opened at 52.5 and is up to 53.5.
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Cowboys (-3.5) - Saints (-5.0) + home field (-3.0) = Sains -4.5
ABOUT THE COWBOYS (5-4 SU, 7-2 ATS): Tony Romo threw for 337 yards and a pair of touchdowns last week to rally the Cowboys, his third 300-yard game in the past five as the running game continues to struggle. Running back DeMarco Murray returned from a two-game injury absence but had only four carries for 31 yards as the Cowboys ran the ball a franchise-low nine times. Romo had a huge game in last season's loss to New Orleans, throwing for 416 yards and four touchdown passes. Dez Bryant had nine receptions for a career-best 224 yards and a pair of scores in that game, but he missed practice Wednesday due to back tightness and was limited in Thursday's session.
ABOUT THE SAINTS (6-2 SU, 5-3 ATS): New Orleans has lost two of three following a 5-0 start and part of the problem is an inability to run the ball while stopping the opponent from doing so. The Saints managed 41 yards on 13 carries and were gashed for 198 yards on the ground by the Jets. "We've been a little bit lopsided," New Orleans coach Sean Payton said. "Pass protection becomes more manageable when you're running the football." Tight end Jimmy Graham has two TD catches in four of his last five games despite battling a foot injury, and the passing game should be helped by the return of running back Darren Sproles, who suffered a concussion last week.
* Cowboys are 4-1 ATS in their last five games overall.
* Saints are 14-3 ATS in their last 17 home games versus a team with a winning record.
* Under is 11-4 in Cowboys last 15 road games.
* Over is 4-0 in Saints last 4 games on fieldturf.
1. Brees and Romo rank 2-3 in the league with 21 and 20 TD passes, respectively.
2. Dallas is 11-0 when Murray has at least 18 carries.
3. Three-time Pro Bowl LB Jonathan Vilma (knee) was placed on season-ending injured reserve by the Saints just three days after making his season debut.