Dallas Cowboys (11-1 SU, 9-3 ATS) vs. New York Giants (8-4 SU, 6-5-1 ATS)
Week 14 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday Night Football, December 11, 2016 at 8:30PM EST
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: DAL -3/NYG +3
Over/Under Total: 47.5
On Sunday Night Football, the Dallas Cowboys come into East Rutherford to face the New York Giants in big NFC East action in week 14. Dallas has won 11 games in a row with their last win being a Thursday Night Football triumph over the Minnesota Vikings, 17-15, when a failed two by the Vikes let the Cowboys get the victory. They haven't lost since playing this team in week one. New York looks to complete the series sweep, though their chances of winning the division took a big hit in Sunday's 24-14 road loss to the Steelers. They look to bounce back this week, albeit against a red-hot Cowboys team.
Dallas is really able to make it work. They're playing well and beyond that, they have retained their urgency and edge during this 11-game win streak—three better than their previous franchise record of 8 straight victories. But after 9 wins in a row where they covered the spread each week, the Cowboys have missed covering the spread each of the last two weeks. And they very narrowly averted a Vikings comeback last week. Not to question the quality of their opposition during this streak, but the Giants might be the most-dangerous opponent they've faced during this stretch.
By the time you get to week 14 in an NFL season, what happened in week one might not mean a whole lot. The Giants were able to get a win at AT&T Stadium, 20-19. Manning threw three touchdowns, while Dallas' Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott were both kept in check. It's very notable, however, that those were the NFL debuts for both men and they've since had a bunch of weeks to get acclimated and thrive in this league. In other words, the Dallas offense might be more on-point in this matchup than in week one.
The Dallas offense has really thrived in the face of injuries and different personnel problems. It's hard to remember a team so reliant on rookies, as Dallas is with Prescott and Elliott, but both young men have risen to the occasion. Prescott is completing 68% of his throws with 19 touchdown throws and only two picks. Beyond that is a certain steeliness that belies his youth or the fact that he was a 4th round pick that no one had ballyhooed as a future force at the QB position in this league. Elliott is a handful and already has 1285 yards on the ground with 11 touchdowns, along with 28 receptions and 322 yards receiving. After working without Dez Bryant for a number of weeks, he has returned to the fray and given Prescott a true number-one receiver to go along with Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams, Elliott, and TE Jason Witten.
The Dallas defense has been able to keep it together in the light of innumerable injury and suspension issues. At the beginning of the season, we felt it wise to temper our optimism partially in light of the depleted mess the defense appeared to be. And while not infallible by any means, they've been pretty good—ranked third against the run in fifth in points allowed entering week 14 with just 19 a game. They've given up over 23 points just twice on the season and are pretty consistent. They play in rhythm with the other side of the ball and are a big part of the reason the Cowboys are on an 11-game winning streak with rookies running the offense.
The Giants were facing a tough test on the road against the Steelers on Sunday and came up short in a 24-14 loss that wasn't even that close. The Giants tacked on a late TD in the closing seconds that meant nothing. The offense was flat. Eli Manning was not on the mark, while the defense didn't have one of its better games in recent memory. After six straight wins, perhaps they are entitled to an off-week, though they don't want things to get too out of hand, though their handle on at least a wild card seems firm enough heading into the season's final 4 games.
With all due respect to Paul Perkins and Rashad Jennings, the Giants' run-game is pretty much a non-factor. So when Eli Manning struggles as he did on Sunday and throws two picks, it's hard for the Giants' offense to thrive. On Sunday, Odell Beckham had ten catches for 100 yards, Jennings and Sterling Shepard caught TD passes, but the 234 yards of offense was decidedly off their average. The line has kept Manning safe for the most part this season, but they haven't been good at springing runs. Despite their potential, the offense has been a bit flat at times, even with the team's overall success. They're ranked 26th in total offense and average a modest 20.4 points a game.
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The Giants' defense has been a handful this season, making large gains from the form of recent seasons. They have gone from a roadblock to success to a reason for their success. They gave up a respectable 24 to the Steelers on Sunday, but they haven't allowed more than that since a week three loss to Washington and no team has gotten into the 30's against this team this season. Additions like Olivier Vernon and Janoris Jenkins have been huge; with Jason Pierre-Paul's rebirth and Landon Collins' growth also being big keys. They are big against the run. Le'Veon Bell had 118 yards on Sunday, though it took him 29 attempts to get it. They are giving up less than 20 points a game.
The Giants' point-differential is exceedingly narrow for an 8-4 team, with 245 points scored and 237 points allowed. Their wins have been by narrow margins, with their win over Cleveland the only game that wasn't a one-score affair. You can make the case that they're a bit more-shaky than their record would indicate. A lot of good things have happened for Dallas since that week one loss. They're definitely feeling better about themselves. I just see the Giants being trouble for a Dallas team that has shown signs in recent weeks that they're primed to finally lose. I'll take the home dog.
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the New York Giants plus 3 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today and bet the Cowboys vs. Giants game by signing up at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 100% sign-up bonus!