Dallas Cowboys (7-1 SU, 7-1 ATS) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-4 SU, 4-4 ATS)
Week 10 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, November 13, 2016 at 4:25PM EST
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: DAL +2.5/PIT -2.5
Over/Under Total: 50
The Dallas Cowboys come to Heinz Field on Sunday to face the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday in big week ten action. Dallas is 7-1, on the heels of seven straight wins and covers since their week one loss to the Giants. Dallas backers and fans alike have been happy indeed with the Cowboys' start to the season. Meanwhile, a team that was supposed to contend for the conference title in the Steelers have been decidedly flat, coming off a Sunday loss to the Ravens, 21-14. The supposedly-mighty Steelers offense didn't even get on the scoreboard until almost midway through the final quarter. They certainly hope for better this week. Granted, they are tied for first in the AFC north, but this season is starting to get sideways with three straight losses.
On Sunday, the Steelers got back the services of Ben Roethlisberger, who returned after missing some time with a knee injury and surgery. He seemed off on 23-for-45 passing with a TD and a pick. The Baltimore defense held Le'Veon Bell to 32 yards on 14 carries. With 45 combined points in their last three games, it's fair to start asking some hard questions of the Pittsburgh offense. Injuries across all areas of the offense have contributed to the lack of continuity. With Big Ben back in the fold, however, there is little reason for them to be struggling so massively. It's happened a few times this season where the offense just isn't firing for whatever reason. They're hoping that's what happened on Sunday and that after a game back, Roethlisberger and Company will be back at near-vintage form. They might not be the bankable offense some expected, but to expect the offense we've seen in the past several weeks to be the one we see all season would probably be a misstep.
Offensively, the Steelers still boast of a very good and versatile back in Bell, even of he faltered on Sunday. He usually runs like a demon and catches a bunch of balls out of the backfield. The strange part of their game is the aerial attack. On one hand, it's good to have different receivers stepping up, as it gives the passing-game depth and versatility. Sunday was a good example, as Eli Rogers led the way with 103 yards receiving. With injuries and suspensions, the Steelers needed guys like Rogers to step up this season and they've gotten it to some extent with Sammie Coates and TE Jesse James breaking onto the scene. Antonio Brown leads the way with 677 yards, but is off his normal breakneck pace. And having a cabaret approach can work, but not having star receivers putting forth star performances has made the Steelers less-explosive than anticipated. We're not seeing consistent performances from receivers on this team not named Antonio Brown.
The Steelers' defense was facing a fork-in-the-road season this year with a youth-movement having taken over the majority of the defense. After a good season last year or at least a promising one, there has been some falloff this season. The Steelers are the 24th-ranked defense and not very good against the pass. They're also not making many plays. Artie Burns' pick of Joe Flacco on Sunday was only the 4th interception for the team in 2016. Even with old reliable James Harrison's two sacks on Sunday, the Steelers only have 11 on the season. It's just not an impact-making group and has been a letdown in the first half of the season.
Whereas Pittsburgh is trying to manage letdown performances on both sides of the ball, the Cowboys are cruising right along after whooping up on the Browns, 35-10, in Cleveland on Sunday. Rookie Dak Prescott threw for 3 touchdowns and no interceptions on 247 yards passing. He has only thrown two interceptions on the season and is becoming more aerially-inclined with 8 TD throws in the last three games. He has gotten a big assist from fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliott. His 92 yards was his lowest total since week two, as the leading rusher in the league scored two more TDs on Sunday. After a big game, Dez Bryant was quiet on Sunday, but veteran tight end Jason Witten stepped up with a big 134 yards and a touchdown. Cole Beasley also hauled in a touchdown grab. Behind a good line, they have ridden the back of two rookies into the league's third-ranked overall offense. They are 4th in scoring and the top rushing team in the NFL.
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The Cowboys have also seen an upgrade in their defense. The top-rushing offense has certainly contributed to making it a little easier. For how well they run the ball, they're pretty adept at stopping it, ranked 7th in the league. And with the offense performing well, the 17.5 points per game that the defense allows has been a big help in getting the Cowboys to 7 straight wins. With all the injuries and suspensions on this side of the ball, it seemed unlikely that they'd be poised for an upswing, but that has happened through half a season.
Expecting the Cowboys to return to earth has been a costly game to play, especially as they've covered the spread 7 straight times. And chasing with Pittsburgh and expecting them to snap out of it can also prove to be a costly endeavor. By the same token, this looms as a tricky road spot for the Cowboys. The Steelers are desperate or at least desperation is starting to set in. And it all makes sense on some level that this would be a week they'd get on the right track. At the same time, laying points against a team on a 7-game win streak isn't a very comfortable feeling. In other words, I see both teams having good games and they should eclipse the total of 50 points. I'm going over.
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting over 50 points in the Dallas vs. Pittsburgh game. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today by signing up and betting the Pittsburgh vs. Dallas game at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 100% sign-up bonus!