Falcons vs. Cowboys Odds, Predictions, NFL Picks: Can Atlanta Cover This Week 10 Spread?
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images. Pictured: Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, Falcons QB Matt Ryan
- Falcons vs. Cowboys odds have held steady within a small margin heading into the final stretch before kickoff.
- Based on the latest developments, find out how our analyst is betting Falcons-Cowboys with his predictions and pick below.
|Time||1 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.|
Don’t look now, but the Falcons are actually in a playoff race. After an 0-2 start, Atlanta bounced back to win four of its next six games. If the season ended today, the Falcons would be the seventh seed in the NFC playoffs.
Last week, the Falcons showed some character in coming back to defeat the Saints 27-25 after blowing a 24-6 lead. On Sunday, the Falcons will head to the Big D to take on a Cowboys team that suffered a 30-16 home loss to the Broncos as a 10.5-point favorite a week ago.
The final score was more cosmetic than anything else as the Cowboys trailed 30-0 with 6:32 left in the fourth quarter. It was the first time Dallas was listed as a double-digit favorite and its first loss against the spread (ATS) this season.
Dallas was again a double-digit favorite this week, but the spread has come down to Cowboys -8. However, history shows that the Cowboys perform poorly against the number when asked to lay this many points.
Let’s take a closer look.
Click the arrow to expand injury reports
Falcons vs. Cowboys Injury Report
- CB Kendall Sheffield (Hamstring): Out
- LB Steven Means (Knee): Doubtful
- DL Jonathan Bullard (Concussion): Doubtful
- TE Lee Smith (Back): Doubtful
- DE John Cominsky (Shoulder): Questionable
- DE Randy Gregory (Calf): Out
- LT Tyron Smith (Ankle): Out
- WR Cedrick Wilson (Shoulder): Questionable
Falcons vs. Cowboys Matchup
|Falcons Offense||DVOA Rank||Cowboys Defense|
|Falcons Defense||DVOA Rank||Cowboys Offense|
|Football Outsiders’ DVOA measures efficiency by comparing a team’s success on every play to the league average based on situation and opponent.|
Are the Falcons Trending Up?
If you just went by the DVOA numbers above, you probably wouldn’t give the Falcons much of a chance in this game. That assumption would, of course, be wrong because football is never that straightforward.
While it hasn’t always been pretty, the Falcons are very much in the playoff hunt. And on any given Sunday, Matt Ryan can still look like a pretty competent quarterback. It might surprise you, but Ryan is tied with Dak Prescott for the fourth-highest completion rate in the league at 69.4%. According to ESPN, Ryan is ranked 10th with a 58.4 Total QBR while Prescott is 16th (53.5).
So, essentially, Ryan has contributed more to winning football games for the Falcons than what the Cowboys have gotten out of Prescott.
A big reason the Falcons have a chance in this game is down to their ability to keep their drives alive. Per TeamRankings, Atlanta’s ranked 10th in the league with a third-down conversion rate of 43.52%. The Falcons are ahead of teams like the Rams, Titans, Packers and Ravens in this category to put things into perspective.
Although success on third down isn’t necessarily a prerequisite to matriculating the ball down the field, it certainly won’t hurt your chances either. This is particularly important for the Falcons because they’re not the most explosive team in the league.
Per Sharp Football Stats, Atlanta is 20th overall with an explosive play rate of 9%. As a result, there aren’t too many opportunities down the field for the Falcons to have a quick strike and score.
Instead, they need to attack the field in 20-yard blocks. That helps set them up nicely when they get into the red zone, where they’re ranked 12th with a 62.96% touchdown conversion rate. They’ll be up against a Cowboys team that’s 25th in allowing opponents a 68% red zone touchdown conversion rate.
While Dallas might be seventh overall in defensive DVOA, it is 21st in allowing opponents 371.5 yards per game. You can certainly move the ball against this Cowboys defense, and if you get into the red zone, you have a good chance of coming away with the six points.
At first glance, the injury report looks worrisome for the Falcons with four players either doubtful or already ruled out. However, LB Steven Means is the only player on the report involved in at least 50% of his team’s snaps when he plays.
The Key to Stopping the Cowboys
You can be sure that quite a few teams and head coaches around the league paid attention to how the Broncos slowed down the Cowboys last week. One interesting thing the Broncos did was to all but abandon blitzing Prescott.
Per Jake Kemp of the D Magazine, Denver entered Week 9 with the league’s sixth-highest blitz percentage (33.6%). However, the Broncos blitzed the Cowboys only 13% of the time, which is the fewest amount of blitzes the Cowboys have faced all season.
Kemp went on to articulate that Dallas’s three worst offensive performances in terms of expected points added (EPA) occurred against defenses that blitzed them the fewest amount of times.
While it’s certainly interesting to consider how the Broncos were so effective against the Cowboys by not blitzing them, leave it to Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones to disregard Denver’s nuanced strategy and label his team’s performance as “flat and lackadaisical.”
Hey Jerry — the other team gets paid, too, you know.
Jerry must not have had anyone wiping his glasses on Sunday to take anything constructive from the game. I guess that he was probably trying to light a fire under his team. It doesn’t take much for a football team to go off the rails, and we might’ve just gotten a preview last week of some of the Cowboys’ vulnerabilities.
It’s never just one thing but rather a combination of things that can force a team to regress. For one, it was Prescott’s first game back from a calf injury. Second, he didn’t have his starting left tackle in Smith, who remains out with an ankle injury.
Gregory is probably equivalent to Smith’s importance on the defensive side of the ball. He’s already registered five sacks through seven games, which is one shy of his career-high in 2018 when he played in 14 games. However, like Smith, Gregory won’t be available on Sunday after landing on IR with a calf injury.
It’s without saying that his absence is a massive blow for Dallas. But one question I had about the Cowboys is how their defense would respond once the turnovers started drying out. Dallas is 10th with a +0.4 turnover margin on the season, but it’s 29th with a -1.3 margin over its last three games. That’s particularly problematic, especially when you’re trying to cover as a heavy favorite.
NFL Pick: Falcons vs. Cowboys
There’s a decent chance that this line continues to move based on the news that Smith and Gregory are ruled out. However, the Falcons shouldn’t be slighted, given how Ryan is playing above expectations thus far this season.
Atlanta has also had success against Dallas as the Falcons are 4-1 ATS over the last five meetings between these two teams, per our Action Labs data. And if we look at how Dallas has performed off a loss when it’s at least a nine-point favorite, it’s just 2-8 ATS for -6.03 units.
To sum it up, the Falcons are worth a look in this spot, so I’ll look to play them at +8.5 or better. (Note that PointsBet is still offering +8.5 as of writing, but you can shop for the best real-time line at any point here.)
Pick: Falcons +8.5 | Bet to: +8.5
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