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By John J. Raspanti
The Dallas Cowboys feel refreshed. Their return to work following their bye week brought good news. Though being thrashed by the Chicago Bears two weeks ago, the Cowboys find themselves only a game back of the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles.
"We had a week to recoup, refresh, regroup," cornerback Brandon Carr said after their first practice in five days. "I felt like we were refreshed, guys had a sense of urgency. We just erased the last four weeks out of our memory."
It would behoove Quarterback Tony Romo to delete all thoughts of his disastrous five-interception performance against the Bears. Romo has completed 67 percent of his passes this season, but with a league leading eight interceptions.
Running back DeMarcus Murray has gained only 239 yards on the ground. The Ravens have shown a weakness against the run (Jamaal Charles ran for 140 yards last week). A good game from Murray could take some pressure of Romo. The Cowboy receivers have had a case of the drops all season. Dez Bryant (21 catches) dropped four passes against the Bears. One was a likely touchdown. Tight end Jason Witten is beginning to perform like an All-Pro. Miles Austin has scored three touchdowns.
Statistically the Raven offense ranks eighth in the NFL. Quarterback Joe Flacco has connected on 61 percent of his passes. He struggled mightily against a stingy Chiefs defense in the Ravens 9-6 victory.
Coach John Harbough is searching for consistency from his team.
"To give you how we're looking at it, no, there are a lot of things we're not pleased with," Harbaugh said Monday. "We're chasing our A-game every week. It's like a pitcher, we want to have our best stuff every week. We didn't have our best stuff."
Running back Ray Rice is having an excellent season leading the team in both rushing and receiving. Rice's average per carry is 2nd in the league (5.2) Flacco's favorite target is Anquan Boldin (23 catches). Torrey Smith, 23, has caught 19 balls. His average per catch (19.5) and touchdowns (three) lead all receivers.
Defensively, the once feared Raven defense ranks near the bottom in yards given up through the air (261) and rushing (118).
Ageless Ray Lewis is having another monster season. Lewis, 37, leads the team with 43 tackles. Strong safety Bernard Pollard has collected 30 tackles while Defensive end Darnell Ellerbe has recorded two and half sacks.
The Ravens are undefeated at home this season. The Cowboys have traditionally played well after their bye week.
Bettorsworld Bottom Line - There are times to play contrarian when betting the NFL and then there are times to simply play the obvious. This is a time, we think, to play the obvious and go with the numbers. After 5 weeks, the Ravens are once again one of the NFL's elite while the Cowboys are quite frankly, pretty bad. The Ravens have an offensive yards per point number of 15.3, which needs some work, but once again are near the top of the pack defensively with a 21.3, good for 2nd best in the NFL.
The Cowboys on the other hand, are a 12.6 defensively which ranks them 29th in the NFL and a 22.3 offensively which places them 32nd overall. That's very bad on both sides of the ball folks. The Ravens turnover differential of +6 and the Cowboys differential of -7 hammers home the story of each teams season thus far.
We're a little concerned with the Ravens offense but this is clearly a game between a team going places and a team going nowhere. We'll play it by the numbers here and lay the -3.5 with the Ravens in what looks like a one sided affair. Ravens -3.5
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