Falcons vs. Cowboys Odds & Pick: How To Play the Highest Total of Week 2 (Sept. 20)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images. Pictured: Dak Prescott, Matt Ryan
- The Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons have similar strengths (offense) and weaknesses (defense).
- Brandon Anderson discusses the odds and analyzes how he's playing Sunday's Falcons-Cowboys showdown.
Falcons vs. Cowboys Odds
Somehow, the Falcons and Cowboys may be undervalued after Week 1 losses.
The Cowboys took awhile to get the gears moving but still pushed the Rams all the way in a close loss on the road while the Falcons were blown out by the Seahawks, but still recorded more than 500 yards of offense. Atlanta turned the ball over twice and went 0-for-4 on fourth down, though, so a couple of bad breaks flattered Seattle.
Dallas and Atlanta have similar profiles — both are powered by their offense and hampered by their defense. That showed in their respective openers. Dallas’ defense couldn’t get off the field, limiting the Cowboys to just 24 minutes of possession, while Atlanta allowed Russell Wilson to shred its secondary all game.
That defense — or lack thereof — should drive our betting decisions in this matchup.
The Falcons struggled on defense much of last season, especially in the early weeks, and it looks like many of the same problems are back.
Their secondary, in particular, is very porous.
They were especially bad against wide receivers in 2019, giving up far too many explosive plays. That was already the case in Week 1, and now they have to face the Cowboys’ trio of uber-talented WRs in Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb.
Atlanta is much stronger against the run and effectively stopped Seattle’s run game last week, pushing a usually rush-heavy team to beat Atlanta with the pass. Dallas is similarly run-heavy with Ezekiel Elliott, so Atlanta has a far better chance containing Zeke than the Cowboys’ receivers.
On offense, this is all about Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley — and apparently Russell Gage. All three receivers went for more than 100 yards last week with nine receptions each. Atlanta probably isn’t going to be able to stop Dallas from scoring, so its best hope will be a repeat of last week’s passing game, plus better efficiency when the Falcons get into scoring position.
The Cowboys’ biggest question marks coming into the season were at corner, so they can definitely be passed on.
The Cowboys came into the season as a chic Super Bowl pick, but contenders don’t start the season 0-2, so they know they need this one.
Injuries and coaching are the biggest question marks surrounding Dallas heading into Week 2. The Cowboys are loaded on offense, but their offensive line is banged up right now and not up to its usual standards. The ‘Boys missed retired center Travis Frederick in Game 1 and will be without right tackle La’el Collins for a second straight week, which will hamper the run game in particular against the Falcons.
The Cowboys also lost tight end Blake Jarwin for the season.
On defense, they’re missing Leighton Vander Esch and Sean Lee at linebacker. That will be a bigger problem against stronger running teams, but Atlanta doesn’t run the ball well.
The biggest question mark this week will be their play calling. If you didn’t know any better in Week 1, you’d think Jason Garrett was still calling the plays. Dallas was vanilla and unimaginative, too run-heavy and not nearly aggressive enough. If the Cowboys over-commit to the run game with their line problems against a stout run D, they could struggle.
Mike McCarthy needs to let this passing game take center stage and allow Dak Prescott and his receivers repeat what Russell Wilson did last week.
The line has moved wildly in this game, so be sure to shop around for the best odds before placing your bet. The Cowboys opened as 7-point favorites but have been bet down to -4 or even -3.5 at some books.
Meanwhile, money has been pouring in on the over. The total opened at 50 but is up to 53.5 at most books as of writing and will probably be even higher by kickoff. Everyone is expecting a ton of scoring in this game, and it’s pretty easy to understand why — both secondaries are iffy at best while each offense is loaded at receiver and should be able to pass the ball with ease.
There’s another hidden factor working to our advantage: Dallas and Atlanta ranked first and third in Week 1 pace of play, per Football Outsiders. These offenses are playing fast, which means more plays and more opportunities to score, especially later in the game as defenses tire.
I like the Cowboys better here, but was not touching them anywhere near -7. It’s a much better play at -4, but with such strong passing games, the backdoor cover is always a threat.
Instead, I’m just going to ride the points here.
Even with the total rising, it hasn’t gone far enough. I think a lot of versions of this game are into the 60s in a likely shootout. Neither offense is going away, and I expect a lot of yards and a ton of passing.
I’m on the over 53.5 and would play up to 55.
PICK: Over 53.5