Last updated December 22nd, 2013
Leading the NFC East, the (5-4) Dallas Cowboys travel to the Superdome in Louisiana to take on the (6-2) New Orleans Saints, who also head their division (8.30pm ET, Sunday). For both teams, a victory will be important to stay in first and to continue to solidify their respective playoff pushes.
The Cowboys just got by last week by the skin of their teeth, narrowly managing to defeat the Minnesota Vikings with a last second score. Overall, the defense continued to struggle for Dallas while the offense seemed to return to early season form. Despite a hampered DeMarco Murray, Tony Romo’s offense still scored 20+ points, doing so for the seventh time this season.
The Saints meanwhile suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the New York Jets, their second loss in three weeks. The New Orleans defense had an off day, allowing the Jets to score 26 points. For the Saints, it was only the second time this year, both of which coming in losses, in which New Orleans allowed the opposing tea to score more than 20 points. The offense on the other hand, had one of its worst performances of the year, scoring just 20 points, the team’s second lowest output on the year.
Both teams had areas to correct after last week’s performances and the one that makes the biggest adjustments is going to take away the win in this all important matchup.
Drew Brees’ Expected Field Day
For quite a few years now, Drew Brees (pictured) has been one of the best quarterbacks in the game and has led one of the league’s most prolific scoring squads. His Saints have set records and Brees himself is immortalized as the QB with the single highest single season passing yards total in NFL history. In 2013, although this team has a new look, Brees is still the constant and is once again making even the best defenses look silly.
On the year, the Saints are the third best passing offense in the NFL and the best in the NFC. On average, the team records 317.6 passing yards a game and scores 27 points even. In wins, this total is even higher. Brees himself is also enjoying a productive year, totaling 21 TD (2nd in NFL) and 2,672 yards (2nd in NFL). He also ranks fourth in the league in rating (104.5) and sixth in completion percentage (66.1).
But while those numbers are good, the best news this week is Brees’ opponent, a la the Dallas Cowboy defense. Monte Kiffin’s squad is allowing opposing offenses to average 305.2 passing yards a game. This is the second worst mark of the league. The defense has also yielded four 400+ yard passers this season and don’t be surprised when Brees adds his name to that list.
There is little this defense, especially since it continues to be banged up, can do against the high-flying attack that is the New Orleans Saints offense.
The Brees-Jimmy Graham (49 REC, 746 YDS, 10 TD) connection is something no team has been able to stop this season and Dallas simply doesn’t have the personnel to stop it either. Expect the fourth year tight end, who is tops in the league in touchdowns and who has recorded five 100+ yard games this season and four games in which he has scored two touchdowns, to continue his dominance over defenses.
Rob Ryan’s D is Back
Last year, Rob Ryan served as the defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys. While he received praise from head coach Jason Garrett, Ryan was fired by owner Jerry Jones in the offseason. He then went on to the rebuilding project that was the NFL’s worst defense and at one point, one of the worst in history.
Ryan’s schemes, which didn’t work in Dallas based on personnel, have been thriving in New Orleans. As mentioned, his defense has allowed opposing teams to score over 20 points just twice this season and is the fifth best against guarding the pass.
With running back DeMarco Murray still recovering from injury, Dallas’ offense, like in the Minnesota game, should once again rely on the passing threats. In this case it is Tony Romo and Dez Bryant, who at times this season have proved a lethal combination.
Ryan will relish the homecoming to prove to his old owner the value of his abilities but more than that, his slightly banged up defense will look to rebound from its perfect 5-0 start and recent 1-2 record in its last three. At home, this defense has only allowed an average of 14.5 points in four games. The offense meanwhile is averaging 31.8 points at home, making this a formula that points to a Saints win.
Dallas Cowboys at New Orleans Saints Betting Picks Verdict
The Cowboys played inspired football last week in a game that saw Romo attempt over 50 passes. This week the task is much tougher. New Orleans is one of the hardest teams to play on the road this season. Couple that with the fact that they will be primed to recover from last week’s loss and it makes this a game Dallas may not stand a chance to win.
Also when you consider that Dallas follows this game with a well-timed bye while New Orleans has to go play the San Francisco 49ers, then it makes it that much more important for the Saints to win.
- The Saints are favored by just over a touchdown at 6.5 points and New Orleans has won all but one of its home games by a double digit margin. Bet on New Orleans -6.5pts to cover this spread @ -110 odds with BetOnline Sportsbook (it is -7pts @ slightly better odds of -105 with Bovada).
- Most certainly take the over at 54 total points @ -110 with BetOnline (it is -115 with Bovada) because this game features two top offenses going at it on Sunday night. The scoring will be aplenty.
RESULT UPDATE: Saints won 49-17. Both advised bets won.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.