Is there a more two-faced team in sports than the Dallas Cowboys?
The franchise is cloaked in success and championships, has a worldwide fan base and plays its games inside a billion dollar spaceship. But, week after week, the Cowboys fail to meet expectations.
Dallas opened the year with a bang and grabbed everyone’s attention with a big win over the New York Giants. Since that Week 1 win, in which Tony Romo threw for 307 yards and three TDs, the Cowboys offense has been the worst in the entire NFL.
Take away that 24-17 win and Dallas has averaged only 13.6 points over its previous three games and boasts more turnovers than touchdowns on the season. The rushing attack is nonexistent, the receivers can’t catch a ball – even if it bounces off their face - and the offensive line has more flags flying than the United Nations.
But, as mentioned above, this team is very two-faced. Hell, it should be a Batman villain.
Dallas has had a week off to tinker with the offense, which has ranked among the upper half of the league over the past few seasons. If head coach Jason Garrett can get his scoring attack anywhere near the same level as his defense, things might turn out OK for America’s Team.
That’s what makes Sunday’s 43.5-point total versus the Baltimore Ravens a doozy.
Baltimore is coming off a 9-6 stinker over the Kansas City Chiefs. But if you erase that three field-goal effort from the books, the Ravens offense is putting up more than 30 points per game. That makes the 43.5-point total look shorter than Tom Cruise at a WNBA game.
Even if the Cowboys can’t crack the riddle of the playbook, at least all those points they’re spotting teams off turnovers should make up for what they lack in scoring punch, as far as over/under bettors are concerned. And Baltimore knows a thing or two about capitalizing on turnovers, taking two of its six INTs back to the house.
Here are some of the other odds making football bettors go “hmmm…” heading into the weekend:
New England Patriots at Seattle Seahawks (+3.5, 44)
Yes, yes. We all know about the infamous 12th man in CenturyLink Field. But as good as Seattle can be at home, the Patriots are much better than their 3-2 record suggests.
New England’s losses have come on last-second plays – missed FG/made FG – and it could easily be in the conversation with Houston and Atlanta right now. The Patriots are a handful on offense, adding a potent running game to Tom Brady’s pin-point passes.
New England has handled crowd noise before – remember when the Colts use to pump in extra noise through the PA system? Brady does.
Louisville Cardinals at Pittsburgh Panthers (+3, 49)
Maybe oddsmakers thought we’d still be half asleep for this 11 a.m. ET start and wouldn’t notice the wonky spread?
Louisville is ranked 16th in the land and visits a Panthers team that just suffered a 14-13 loss to perhaps the only other Big East team worse than itself. Pitt has been a thorn in UL’s side in recent years, winning four of the past five meetings and going 5-0 ATS in those games.
However, the Cardinals have proved they are a force – not just in the conference – but in the national picture as well. Louisville’s offense suffered a bit of a drop two weeks ago versus Southern Miss, but mainly because they played the game underwater.
A bye week and a dash of revenge – Pitt’s win kept UL out of a BCS bowl last year – has the Cardinals chomping at the bit to get to Pitt.
Texas A&M Aggies at Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (+8, 80)
Whew, that’s a lot of points.
The 80-point total doesn’t seem out of reach when you quickly glance at the numbers the Aggies and Bulldogs have posted this season. Both programs sit in the Top 10 in points per game and combine for a total of 97.8 points an outing.
But, Louisiana Tech has built those big digits against some of the worst defensive teams in college football. Three of its five opponents rank 102nd, 104th and 117th in scoring defense. The other two – Illinois and Virginia – sit at No. 80 and No. 96, respectively.
A little known fact about Texas A&M: For all that offensive flash, the Aggies have the 14th-best scoring defense in the nation, allowing just over two touchdowns per game. The new kids on the SEC block nearly took down Florida in Week 1 – the same Florida team many are tagging as a BCS dark horse.