New Orleans Saints at Dallas Cowboys (-1, 51.5)
The Dallas Cowboys still are on the outside of the NFC playoff picture looking in, but their chances improved dramatically after topping Pittsburgh in overtime last Sunday for their fifth win in six games. Dallas goes for its fourth consecutive victory this Sunday when it hosts the enigmatic New Orleans Saints. The Cowboys trail Washington in the NFC East despite sharing the same record but can capture the division title by winning their remaining two games, with the finale being a showdown with the Redskins in the nation's capital.
New Orleans' roller-coaster season has it needing a miracle to reach the playoffs for the fourth straight season. The Saints rebounded from an 0-4 start to even their record after 10 contests, but they lost their next three games before posting a 41-0 home triumph over Tampa Bay last Sunday. Despite the shutout, New Orleans' defense still ranks last in the league as it has allowed an average of 446.2 yards per contest.TV:
1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE:
The Cowboys opened as high as -3 and have been bet down to as low as -1 at some books. The total opened at 52 points and has been bet down to 51.5.CONSENSUS:
54 percent of Covers Consensus picks are on New Orleans while 75 percent are on the over.
ABOUT THE SAINTS (6-8, 7-7 ATS):
Quarterback Drew Brees leads the NFL with 36 touchdown passes and 4,335 passing yards. He needs 665 yards to reach the 5,000-mark for the third time in his career. Brees threw for 307 yards and four TDs against Tampa Bay, giving him an NFL-record 17 games with at least 300 yards and four scoring strikes. Darren Sproles has been a major contributor out of the backfield since 2011 as he leads all NFL running backs with 146 catches and 13 receiving touchdowns in that span.
ABOUT THE COWBOYS (8-6, 6-8 ATS):
Cornerback Morris Claiborne expects to play Sunday after missing last week's victory over Pittsburgh with a concussion. Running back DeMarco Murray also expects to face the Saints despite missing practice on Wednesday. Dallas is 3-0 since Murray returned from a foot injury that shelved him for six contests. Quarterback Tony Romo has thrown 12 touchdown passes and only three interceptions over the last six games. Linebackers DeMarcus Ware (11.5) and Anthony Spencer (10) are the first pair of Cowboys to reach double digits in sacks in the same season since 2007.TRENDS:
* Saints are 5-2 ATS in their last seven meetings.
* Underdog is 7-0 ATS in their last seven meetings.
* Saints are 11-5 ATS in their last 16 games in Week 16.
* Cowboys are 8-17 ATS in their last 25 games in December.EXTRA POINTS:
1. Cowboys WR Dez Bryant has caught a touchdown pass in each of his last six games.
2. The road team has won each of the last four meetings, while the Saints have captured six of the last seven overall.
3. Dallas TE Jason Witten is six receptions shy of breaking the single-season record for a tight end of 102 set in 2004 by Tony Gonzalez.