The desperate Dallas Cowboys host a reeling, but improving Cleveland Browns side in Week 11 NFL action. It’s been a tumultuous year for both squads, but a chance to salvage their respective campaigns definitely exists in the weeks to come.
The Cowboys shouldn’t have trouble against a two-win Browns team, though would it really surprise anyone if Dallas struggled yet again at home? Dallas typically has major letdowns when playing in their massive new stadium, and can’t afford one as they enter with a 4-5 record desperately seeking a victory for their playoff hunt. Tony Romo remains Mr. November, as the Cowboys quarterback now holds a 20-3 record in this month. If Dallas is to qualify for the post-season, running the table in November is ideal. On the injury front, Dallas will still be without DeMarco Murray and center Ryan Cook.
Nothing much was expected from the Browns this season, and they’ve lived up to expectations thus far in 2012. Entering with a 2-7 record, Cleveland is playing for pride the rest of the way, but they have shown signs of some big improvements in recent weeks and would relish the opportunity to play spoiler in football’s grandest stadium. The Browns enter this game as healthy as they have been all season. Joe Haden, their star in the secondary, is expected to return to the line-up. As are key defensive tackles in Ahtyba Rubin and Phil Taylor who will be making their season debut and should be vital in stopping the run on Sunday.
Browns vs. Cowboys Betting Odds:
Cleveland Browns +8 (-110)
@ Dallas Cowboys -8 (-110)
Over 44 (-110)
Under 44 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Browns vs. Cowboys Pick:
Despite the fact that Tony Romo and the Cowboys have dominated in November, they remain a very flawed team. Not only do they play poorly in front of their hometown fans, but Dallas has also developed a habit of being soft against the run of late. If there’s one area in which Dallas can be exposed, it’s on the ground, and rookie running back Trent Richardson is likely licking his chops for the Browns. Dallas has conceded 4.4 yards per carry in the past two weeks, and with lineman Jay Ratliff battling an injury, expect a big game from Cleveland on the ground.
Based on talent alone, the Cowboys should roll Cleveland, completely overmatching them. But the NFL is a funny league at times, and other factors can play a role in determining the outcome of games. For instance, the ‘Boys are coming off an emotional victory in Week 10 against a big division rival in the Eagles. With two consecutive NFC East clashes coming up after their game against Cleveland, including one on Thanksgiving Thursday four days from now, expect a lack in focus from Jason Garrett’s side. Moreover, favourites have gone 1-9 against the spread this year prior to playing in a Thursday game, and Dallas has gone 7-14 against the spread as a home favourite in their new stadium.
Cleveland meanwhile will enter a focused group, refreshed as they are coming off their bye-week and have accepted their role as a spoiler. With Joe Haden back in the fold, their defense has played great. In their last three games, Cleveland actually has the 2nd-best defense in football as measured by yards per play. Though they are 2-7, they are capable of creating dangerous scenarios for superior opposition, and expect that to unfold on Sunday. The Cowboys should squeak out a victory, but Cleveland will keep things very close.
PICK = Cleveland +8 (-110)