The Dallas Cowboys host the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday and the general opinion of these two teams has shifted dramatically in one week.
Before the Cowboys hosted the Denver Broncos last Sunday, they had a perfect 7-0 point spread record and were riding a six game straight-up winning streak that staked them to a more than three game lead in the NFC East Division. The Falcons, who met the New Orleans Saints on the road last week, were alone in last place in the NFC South Division.
The division standings and team successes had the public backing the Cowboys by nearly a 70% margin before they lost to the Broncos as a double-digit favorite. On the same day, the Saints were favored by a touchdown over the Falcons and lost the game straight up while the public was backing the Saints by a 56% margin.
Now, the losing Cowboys, who were bet on last week, and the winning Falcons, who were bet against last Sunday, meet in Dallas. The Cowboys opened as a 9 point favorite, a line that has been sliced to 8½ points.
Because this week the public is betting on the team that won last week in a road upset and against the team that lost in an upset at home. The public is more predictable than the weather.
So, what do we do?
Well, first we can consider that the Falcons are playing better since their opening day loss at home to the Philadelphia Eagles, 32-6. We can also deduce that the Cowboys record was a notch above their actual talent level and their bulge in the NFC East standings, where they only have to outdistance three subpar teams, the Eagles, Washington and New York Giants, can leave them in a soft position. Their easy path to a division win is particularly promatical against covering the point spread over the second half of the season.
We can factor all that in, but we are still driven by the fact that Dallas, off a loss, is sure to be motivated to play better than they were last week while the Falcons, off a win, may not have the most important edge an underdog requires to win, an overconfident opponent.
The opening line on this game had Dallas laying more than a touchdown, a clear indicator that the books expect Dallas to snap back after last week’s loss. Yet, the public bettors see the Falcons win last Sunday as a reason to back them in hopes of perhaps handing the Cowboys a second straight loss and in lieu of that at least stay within single digits on the final score.
Had the Cowboys won last week, and had the Falcons lost to the Saints on Sunday, then this line would be higher. Probably double-digits.
But, because the opposite happened last week, the opening line was below double-digits and the public betting reduced it further. This is a case where last week’s results are interpreted one way while they actually point to a result in the opposite direction.
The fact that the Cowboys are coming off a home loss and playing a second straight game in front of their home fans actually increases their chances of picking up their seventh win of the season. Conversely, the Falcons winning on the road last week statistically reduces their chances of picking up another road win on Sunday.
Dallas is the better team, at home, laying less points off a loss.
That is a winning formula.
Qoxhi Picks: Dallas Cowboys (-8½) over Atlanta Falcons