Many would argue that the Saints had their 2012 season ruined by the NFL, and now the Saints can do some ruining of their own as they take on the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. Dallas enters this contest a desperate team, knowing they need to keep on winning for playoff security to be attained.
Dallas has played some much better football of late, but a loss at home to the Saints would certainly complicate matters. The Cowboys now have a legitimate shot at an NFC East divisional crown and that has to be their mindset entering this week’s game against the Saints. Tony Romo was stellar last week in an awesome overtime victory over the Steelers, and should keep his play up against a porous New Orleans defense. The Cowboys enter this game with their only notable absence being nose-tackle Jay Ratliff. Morris Claiborne should return at cornerback, while Dez Bryant continues to play through a left index finger injury. He’s been red-hot of late and will need to continue his play if the Cowboys are to knock off New Orleans Sunday afternoon.
Meanwhile in New Orleans it has been quite the tumultuous season. The bounty-gate scandal has clearly affected this team, and though they’ve proven that they can score with any team in the league, their defense is about as bad as it gets. That said, New Orleans thrashed the Buccaneers last week in a game where their defense shut out a high-flying Tampa Bay attack. Whether or not that’s a sign of things to come, remains to be seen. All New Orleans really has to play for in this contest is their own pride, but the opportunity to derail the Cowboys season should be enough incentive. The Saints have to feel spurned after all of the tough luck they’ve had to endure this campaign, so ending their season on a high-note should be of great importance to this group. On the injury front, Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins is done for the year, while running backs Chris Ivory and Pierre Thomas are both listed as questionable. It’s going to take a big effort from New Orleans to knock off a hungry Cowboys team, but the Saints have proven they’re a better squad than their record would indicate and Sunday’s another chance to show that.
Saints vs. Cowboys Betting Odds:
New Orleans Saints +3 (-125)
@ Dallas Cowboys -3 (+105)
Over 51.5 (-120)
Under 51.5 (+100)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Saints vs. Cowboys Pick:
Though you’d think taking the Cowboys here since they’re at home and actually need the win would be a slam-dunk selection, it’s not that easy. The Saints have played much better of late, especially last week, and there’s still some apprehension when it comes to backing the wildly inconsistent Cowboys. Dallas has only covered three of their past sixteen games at home, and since 2005 they’ve only covered 32% of their games in December. Additionally, teams favoured the week following taking on Mike Tomlin’s Steelers have been a stunning 12-32 against the spread. All those factors will keep us off the Cowboys this week. And when you consider just how brutal the Saints defense has been this season, placing our hard-earned holiday bonus money on a team this inept doesn’t seem like a wise investment either. However, one area that could be exploited is in the over/under market, specifically leaning toward the Over 51.5 points.
Tony Romo and the Cowboys attack have been much better in recent weeks, and many pundits are saying this has been the best stretch of Romo’s career. And when you consider the competition he’s done this against; the Steelers and Bengals, it becomes even more impressive. If the Pitsburgh and Cincinnati pass defenses couldn’t contain Romo, look for the Saints to have absolutely no shot. The Saints are still 29th in the NFL in defending the aerial attack, while boasting just three sacks in their last four games. Romo will have time and space in the pocket and will have no trouble picking apart a porous Saints’ secondary. Romo’s rapport with Dez Bryant has been amazing of late, and look for that duo to be unstoppable come Sunday.
Coversely, on the other side of the football don’t expect the Saints to just roll over in this contest. New Orleans can score with the best of them, despite their defensive inadequacies. Dallas enters with a banged-up defense, and Drew Brees is getting hot again at a dangerous time for Cowboys’ backers. Dallas is also low in their pass defense ranking, entering this contest 27th in the league in that regard. They’ve been particularly awful in recent weeks, conceding 8.2 yards per attempt. Additionally, Dallas is ranked dead last in the NFL at defending the run over the past month, allowing just over 6 yards per carry. The Cowboys have had to endure many injuries at key positions, and many players are playing hurt, but it doesn’t hide the fact that this defense has been brutal of late. Drrew Brees and his dangerous Saints’ attack will have no difficulty moving the chains and contributing to a high-scoring affair.
Look for this to be a very tight, back-and-forth affair. Both defenses have been pathetic this season, especially of late, and look for Romo and Brees to have a field day. Oddsmakers setting the total at 51.5 points is just too low for such prolific offenses, and expect something along the lines of a 30-27 scoreline Sunday afternoon.
PICK = Over 51.5 (-120)