Thursday, November 21, 2013

NFL Predictions 2013 Week 12: Cowboys vs Giants

Dallas Cowboys vs New York Giants: DAL +3 (-125) (Bovada)

Market Watch

If there's one game on the board this week that is skewed due to public perception, it's this one. Count me as one of the people who haven't bought into the Giants turn-around this season. Have they won some games? Yes. But who have they beaten? Anybody worth mentioning?

A week ago Vegas had this game at -1. With another Giants win under their belts, they reopened them at -2.5. We haven't seen much movement since because books know they'll get a ton of Cowboys action if they move it to -3, but if you shop around you can get that key number.

Square shops are a must for line shopping, which is precisely the reason why I like Bovada so much. For a bit of extra juice, we can get some value on the dog.

As of today, 55% of bets are on the home team.

Keep an eye on

The Giants opened the season with six straight losses. Now they've put together four straight wins. With the exception of the Eagles, none of those wins came against winning teams. In fact, all of the opponents looked downright awful.

Therefore, it's no surprise that the Giants are trending up in some of the key statistical categories. Defensively, they've improved against the run, the pass, and in the red zone. Offensively, things are not as good. The only area they've shown a noticeable difference in is on third down. It's encouraging that Eli and company have done well to move the chains, but they still have problems punching the ball in the end zone (against poor red zone defenses).

So how should we handicap this game? The Giants have gone from brutally bad to average over the last month, but how much credit should we give them when they haven't beaten a legitimate team?

That's not to say that the Cowboys are a good litmus test, because they're no better than average either. That said, the Cowboys have been much more consistent this year than the Giants. This is also a divisional game, so I'd be shocked if New York were able to win this game convincingly.

If the Gmen are going to win this game they'll need big efforts from Tuck and JPP.  Both were abysmal to start the season, but they've shown signs of life in the recent win streak. Yet, there is a difference between playing good and dominating (like expected).  The Cowboys offensive line isn't anything special, but they aren't the big liability that people thought they would be coming into this year.

On the flip side, the Cowboys need much better play from their secondary. In fact, they need better play from their entire defense. They do get Ware back, so that should pay immediate dividends. It will also help out a pass defense that needs all the help it can get. Cruz has been the go-to guy for the past month, and Dallas can't afford to let him have his way all afternoon.

It would also be nice if Romo doesn't blow the game in the final minutes. I rarely bet on Dallas because I have no faith in them if the game is close, but this team is very quietly 7-3 against the spread this year. Usually point spreads are inflated for the Cowboys because they are still a 'public' team.

Bottom Line

I didn't go into the X's and O's for this game as much as I usually do. The first meeting between these two was a wild affair with tons of yardage and turnovers. It's difficult to decipher the current Giants due to their schedule, but I haven't seen anything from them that scares me off of this play.

Despite their own issues, I still have Dallas ranked higher in my power ratings. I expect them to win this game outright, so even at +2.5 I'd still take the Cowboys. If you don't have the option to get +3, wait a little bit to see where the line is moving as the weekend approaches.

NFL Pick: DAL +3.