Will someone please check the pulse of the Dallas Cowboys?
There’s no way they’re still alive and kicking after having their hearts ripped out of their chests multiple times during Sunday’s 31-29 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
It was like that scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, when Mola Ram rips out that guy’s ticker and lights it on fire – except on repeat with the volume cranked all the way to 11.
Dallas took bettors on a roller-coaster ride in Week 6, covering as a 3-point road underdog thanks to a last-minute drive that brought the Cowboys to within two points. They nearly won the game outright after a successful onside kick, but poor clock management by the Dallas sideline led to a missed field goal as time ticked down.
It was a tough loss to swallow and one the Cowboys need to shake off before traveling to Carolina to face the Panthers as 1-point road favorites in Week 7. And it’s that spread that has America’s Team leading off our “Football lines that make you go hmmm…” for the second straight week.
This spread opened as high as -2.5 in favor of Dallas but is sitting -1 at plenty of online books. Breaking the odds down by betting basics, are we to believe that 1-4 Carolina – which has lost three straight before a bye in Week 6 – is just four points worse than 5-1 Baltimore?
While there are plenty of flaws with that logic, it’s safe to say the Panthers are just where they need to be in terms of the spread. Carolina may have only one win to its name (35-27 over New Orleans) but it’s played an uphill schedule, featuring an underrated Buccaneers team, the Saints, Giants, Falcons and Seahawks.
Dallas limps into Sunday, with starting running back Demarco Murray out with a sprained foot after such a dominant first half versus the Ravens. The Cowboys, normally a pass-heavy team, broke character and took to the ground, finishing the day with 227 yards rushing.
Without Murray, Dallas is left to wonder what kind of team it really is heading into Week 7. And, by the looks of the Cowboys’ recent spreads, oddsmakers are also having a tough time determining just what Big D is all about.
Here are some other spreads making football bettors go “hmmm…” heading into the weekend:
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals (+1, 46)
In the same vein as the Dallas-Carolina line, oddsmakers have set the Steelers as 1-point faves on the road in Week 7.
Pittsburgh is coming off a shocking loss to Tennessee, dragging behind it a handful of scrapes and bruises as well as an unflattering 2-3 record – all of those losses coming away from home.
More importantly, the Steelers have managed to cover in only one game this season and have been favorites in four of those five contests.
Cincinnati, on the other hand, has lost two in a row SU and ATS after a strong start including last weekend’s 34-24 defeat at the hands of state rival Cleveland as a 1-point road chalk.
Pittsburgh has dominated this AFC North grudge match, in terms of the pointspread, going 18-7-1 ATS in the last 26 meetings between these teams and 13-3-1 ATS in its last 17 travels to Paul Brown Stadium.
Cincinnati Bearcats at Toledo Rockets (+7, 64.5)
Regardless of the overall strength of the conference, the Big East has three teams ranked in the Top 25 this week, one of them being the No. 18 Bearcats who make the drive north to Toledo as touchdown favorites Saturday.
Cincinnati’s unblemished 5-0 SU record is packed with as much sweet cake and frosting as a Twinkie, picking up “W’s” against Pitt, FCS Delaware State, Virginia Tech, Miami (Ohio) and FCS Fordham. Those three FBS foes have a combined 9-11 SU mark so far this year.
The Rockets are quietly climbing the power ratings and could be undefeated themselves if not for an overtime loss to Arizona in Week 1. Toledo has flexed its offensive muscle in recent weeks, scoring a total of 102 points in its last two outings.
This Toledo program is no pushover and has thrived versus big-name BCS opponents, putting the fear of God into the likes of Ohio State, Arizona and Michigan in past years.
Penn State Nittany Lions at Iowa Hawkeyes (-3, 42.5)
The Jerry Sandusky sentencing is stealing headlines in State College, keeping much of the focus away from a very good PSU football team.
The Nittany Lions, discarded after a pressure-filled 0-2 start, have risen from the ashes to win four in a row. Not only has Penn State been victorious in those games but it’s also riding a 5-0 ATS streak into Saturday’s tilt in Iowa City.
The Hawkeyes upset an overrated Michigan State squad in overtime last Saturday and have collected four wins against much weaker opposition. However, books are giving the field goal to the Nittany Lions, who had a bye week to prepare for Iowa, which will undoubtedly be suffering from a bit of a hangover.