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Sunday Night Football sends the Dallas Cowboys (5-4, 1-3 away) into the belly of the beast as they seek to steal a victory from the vaunted New Orleans Saints (6-2, 4-0 home). Both teams could use a quality win, so expect exciting action throughout the night. Kickoff is set for 8:30 ET at the Superdome with television coverage provided by NBC.
The Saint took the last meeting between these two teams 34-31 at Cowboys Stadium in December of last year. Both teams hold tenuous leads in their respective divisions, but a loss in this game would be considered a setback, even if only minor, to their playoff chances.
New Orleans is currently a -6.5 point favorite at betonline and is attracting 57% of the action when looking at the betting trends available at sportsbook.com. Both teams are impressive against the spread, with New Orleans sporting a 5-3 record and Dallas doing even better at 7-2. The O/U has been a near split with Dallas going 4-5 and New Orleans landing at 4-4. The Cowboys are gaining 342.8 YPG compared to 397.4YPG for the Saints. The Cowboys are allowing 419.2 YPG thanks in large part to one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL. The Saints are giving up 333.2 YPG with most of the damage coming from their opponents running game.
DE DeMarcus Ware is listed as questionable, but should see his first action in a month according to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. He has 4 sacks and an INT in six games this year. WR Miles Austin could also see a return to action for the Cowboys. New Orleans hopes to send S Malcolm Jenkins and S Roman Harper back into action, but both are questionable for Sunday.
Cowboys QB Tony Romo is enjoying a strong season, but runs into a Saints pass defense that ranks 5th in the NFL. He has passed for 2,553 yards and 20 TDs to go with 6 INTs. WR Dez Bryant is an invaluable weapon for Romo. The QB-WR duo has connected 51 times for 705 YDS and 8 TDs this year. TE Jason Witten is finally playing well again after a 8 catch, 108 YDS and 1 TD showing against the Vikings a week ago.
It will be up to RB DeMarco Murray to get things going on the ground. He has been hindered by a knee injury, but is probable for Sunday and will see his first serious action since carving St. Louis up for 175 YDS and 1 TD in Week 3. Rushing against the Saints isn't tough; their 121.3 YPG allowed on the ground is only good for 25th best in the NFL.
QB Drew Brees, as most would expect, is playing like one of the best in the NFL. He ranks 2nd in the NFL in yards at 2,672 and is 2nd in TDs with 21 trips to the end zone so far in 2013. However, he is exiting a below average showing against the Jets where he completed only 58.8% of his passes while going for 382 YDS, 2 TDs and 2 INTs. TE Jimmy Graham has easily been his favorite target, picking up 49 catches and 746 YDS while reaching the end zone 10 times. Brees has hit nine different targets for TDs this year, so he can kill opposing teams regardless of who is on the field.
Having one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL isn't what you want to have when going up against Drew Brees. But the feeling here is that Dallas has enough offensive firepower to keep this one close and down to the wire. We'd prefer the full touchdown here but you may have to lay extra juice to get it. Cowboys +7 -125 or better. (look for reduced juice at 5 dimes)
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