Totally Covered – NFL Playoffs: Cowboys, Packers

Our playoff picks are 5-1 thus far and we have a Best Bet circled for Sunday’s game between the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers!

 

It’s not often you see a pair of NFL playoff totals drop following a Saturday where both games sailed over the number. Guess that’s what the fear of bad weather can do to the sports betting public but other than a few flurries today at Lambeau, it doesn’t really look too bad. Remember, Lambeau Field heats its playing surface through an advanced system that’s been upgraded several times in the past decade. When it’s just below freezing outside on a partly cloudy day and the wind is around 5 mph, Lambeau Field is nowhere near as bad today as it would’ve been in the sixties.

COWBOYS at PACKERS

The Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers each finished the season at 12-4 SU. Dallas won its opening round playoff (PO) game at home against the tough Lions D and now must go on the road to face one of the league’s most potent offenses. On normal rest, the Cowboys have become a good bet in this spot the past few years; click this link from SportsDatabase.com for more sports betting data on the Cowboys!

– They lost twice as a HF, winning SU by small margins but failing to cover the number

– They lost once as a home dog to the Giants (2012), who were playing with same-season revenge and riding a three-game hot streak at the time

– They lost once on the road at New Orleans, Wk 10, 2013 by a score of 49-17. It was 28-10 Saints lead by half-time and New Orleans kept its foot on the pedal setting a new league record for first downs (40) and a franchise mark for total offensive yardage (625). QB Brees was 34 of 41 for 392 yards and four scores. The Saints were a top-10 offense all season and at home, finished with a 34 PPG average, second only to Denver (36.6).

Green Bay led the league in scoring this year with 30.4 PPG and the Packers were perfect a Lambeau Field where they notched a 39.8 PPG average! On paper, this sounds like just the recipe for serving Dallas its fifth loss in this trend set but these Cowboys have come a long way since the loss to New Orleans.

30-SOMETHING

Dallas gave up 30-plus points seven times during the 2013 season including four road games at San Diego, Detroit, New Orleans and Chicago. The Cowboys scored an average of 31 PPG in these seven contests but still finished 1-6 SU and 3-4 ATS on an average 39 PPGA. In 2014, Dallas only allowed 30-plus points twice. The first time was Week 3 at St. Louis and the Cowboys still managed to win the game (34-31), the second was Week 13 at home to Philadelphia on a short week.

The other 14 games, Dallas outscored opponents 30-21; good for an 11-3 SU record and if we focus squarely on the regular Sunday games with six days rest that record goes to 9-0 SU and 8-1 ATS with scoring averages of 34-17. Athletes are creatures of habit and erratic scheduling affects some teams more than others. What we’re seeing from this profile is living proof that under Jason Garrett’s program, regular routines rule!

Now let’s take a closer look at the nine teams Dallas kept in check this year when they were playing in their ‘happy spot’.

Site: Four home wins and five on the road (5-0 ATS)

Line: Six fave wins and three as a dog (3-0 SU/ATS). The margins of victory were by 16-21-7 points and Dallas covered the spread each time by more than two converted touchdowns. The two most notable wins were Wk 4 against the Saints (38-17) and Week 6 at Seattle (30-23).

Caveats: Critics will state that, “The Saints win was in Dallas” and that, “The Saints weren’t really that good anyway.” Two valid points but hindsight is 20-20. Remember, the line for that game was New Orleans -3. They will also point out that, “The Seahawks in Week 6 hadn’t started playing like ‘Super Bowl Seattle’ yet.” And it’s true, Seattle is 6-0 SU/ATS since Week 12 and picked now by many as the Super Bowl favorite. Back when Dallas beat them they were only 3-1 SU/ATS with two of those wins coming over the Packers and Broncos.

There is an old saying about how you can beat who’s in front of you on any given week and Dallas this year had to change its mentality to convince themselves they were in fact a good team. The offensive line has developed, the run game is amongst league leaders in yards per carry and per game, and the star quarterback Tony Romo has learned how to make each pass count. In fact, Romo’s 7.9 yards per attempt is tied for best overall with a certain Aaron Rodgers who’ll be lining up under center at the other end of the field.

TEAMS OFF DETROIT

This season, teams off Detroit are only 4-11 SU and in this matchup, both teams are technically coming off a matchup vs. the Lions. Green Bay had the luxury of a bye week in-between which given an enormous boost to QB Aaron Rodgers (calf), meanwhile the Cowboys have to travel and play outdoors in what is expected to be a cool day at Lambeau Field (high of 21, p/c, light wind).

Teams off Detroit have lost six-straight but the three most recent are 3-0 ATS and all three margins of defeat were less than seven points. Each of the ‘cover’ teams was playing on the road, too, and the biggest shocker was Minnesota’s narrow 37-35 loss at Miami. If you want to try and find a more similar setup to this one, perhaps try Week 13, when New England traveled to Green Bay off a cruisy home win over Detroit. The Packers led 23-14 by half-time and after a scoreless third, each side tagged on one more score in a 26-21 final.

Note that New England had a primetime divisional tilt on-deck for next Sunday at San Diego (conference game) followed by three-straight divisional games to finish the schedule. Chances are good that if that if that game was played again in the playoffs, Belichick could have found a way to put more than seven points on the board in the second-half.

Winning teams off Detroit this year were 1-4 SU/ATS and the final scores averaged 43 points. It should be noted, though, that two of the unders were against teams who finished even better than Detroit for advanced metrics, defensively (Settle, Buffalo).

OUTDOOR ROAD GAMES

The Cowboys were perfect on the road this year including seven wins at outdoor venues (6-1 ATS). On grass the Boys were a perfect 4-0 SU/ATS and they outscored their hosts 36-18 but they were favored in three of four contests. The three most recent games went over the total and Dallas’ offensive output increased each time (31-41-44 points).

Late season, higher totals, etc, DAL doesn’t really have much to go on. The beat a crappy Bears team this past December but that’s not saying much at all. In 2011-12, DAL had some trouble in Washington but those were divisional games. Nothing I could see gives either team a notable edge from this angle but it looks to me like the offense can function in cool weather behind a big O-line and a strong run game. If wind ends up shutting down the pass game for one of these teams it will shut it down for both.

GIVE US THE PICK ALREADY!

The best NFL odds on this game are at 5 Dimes where the total is down to O/U 51.5. We booked this game early in the week and posted via Twitter and Facebook. Unfortunately we are in at “Over” 53 but there’s not much we can do about that now.

TC Pick of the Week: Take the Cowboys and Packers OVER

Totally Covered is written by Jarvis Simes, lead handicapper at Pick Sixty Sports. Follow us on Twitter for more NFL picks, winning systems and Best Bets throughout the season! For free Power Rating Picks, click here!