Two months ago, two football rivals tied atop the NFC East with .500 records met in front of a national television audience to determine which would get a leg up on a post-season berth.
The Philadelphia Eagles and their fans — and betting backers — hope it goes a little differently this time.
The Cowboys embarrassed the Eagles in Dallas that Sunday night of Oct. 20, thrashing them 37-10 in a contest in which Philadelphia fumbled away its first two possessions and trailed by 20 points at the half. The Eagles were held to 3 points after the first quarter.
Cowboys are favored, but not by much
On their home turf at Lincoln Financial Field in Sunday’s featured late afternoon game (sorry, Lions and Broncos), the Eagles can make that carnage a distant memory and take control of the division. The Cowboys are a slight favorite as of Friday morning (giving 1.5 points at most Pennsylvania online sites, but 2 at FOX Bet), making it all the sweeter if you’re successful picking the Eagles, who are anywhere from +102 to +106 on the moneyline.
Both teams are 7-7, almost eliminating the recent possibility that one of them could back into the playoffs with the stain of a losing record atop the division. As long as Sunday’s game doesn’t end in a tie, someone will have eight wins afterward, and both teams face an easier opponent in the season’s final week, when the Eagles visit the Giants and the Cowboys host the Redskins.
The betting sites currently make the Cowboys a strong favorite to win the division (-167 at DraftKings, -182 at FOX Bet, -220 at FanDuel), both because they’re favored Sunday and because they will be still more heavily favored in their final game, at home.
A number of things also suggest the Cowboys are a stronger team. Among them, they have scored 90 more points than their opponents this year (378-288) while the Eagles have scored just 8 more (334-328).
Cowboys winning with strong offense, Eagles with pluck
The Cowboys’ combination of Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and Amari Cooper create the NFL’s No. 1 offense in yards per game (434). It was on full display in a 44-21 pounding of the Los Angeles Rams last week, with Elliott leading a ground attack that gained 263 yards. That could be all the more important with word out of Dallas that Prescott is nursing an injured shoulder, though he insists he’ll be fine for Sunday.
The Eagles, troubled by their own injuries throughout the season, have relied on grit and resourcefulness — and don’t ever count out intestinal fortitude — to keep their hopes alive the last two weeks in come-from-behind victories over the Giants and Redskins.
It could be up to Carson Wentz to continue such pluck in the final minutes Sunday. He does not want to end up telling the media the same thing he told them in Dallas after the October loss (“We didn’t show up”).
There are plenty of statistics that are in the Cowboys’ favor, however, betting-wise. They are 8-6 against the spread this year, compared to the Eagles’ 5-9 (including 1-4 in their last five games and 2-5 ATS at home).
Dallas is also 4-1 ATS vs. the Eagles in their last five matchups, and 6-1 in the teams’ last seven meetings in Philadelphia. This week marks just the second time since 2012 that the Cowboys have been favored at the Linc.
The over/under for the game is set at 46 by FOX Bet and 46.5 by everyone else. (Bettors might care to know that the total has gone under in each of the Eagles’ last five home games.)
Betting options abound, and should increase
The online sportsbooks by Sunday will presumably present still more promotions, bonuses, and prop bets related to the game than exist now, but as of Friday morning, here’s a sample of what bettors can opt for:
- DraftKings again has its “Always Scoring in Philadelphia” promotion, in which a moneyline bet on the Eagles to win is credited, win or lose, with an additional $6 in “free bets” for every TD they score.
- FanDuel once more offers its “NFL Close Loss Insurance,” in which a moneyline bet is refunded up to $50 if your team loses but comes within 6 points. In a game expected to be close, that’s a favorable deal involving the Eagles.
- Parx is offering an odds boost of +150 (from +102 originally) for a wager of up to $50 on the Eagles on the moneyline.
- FOX Bet has wide-ranging player prop bets posted, such as Miles Sanders and Elliott to both score at least two TDs (25/1).
- Most sites have player props on TDs scored and yardage, among other things. FOX Bet, for instance, has Carson Wentz at +105 to throw for at least 274 yards and Zach Ertz at +105 to get at least seven receptions.
The Steelers have their own big, but lower-profile, game
Meanwhile, the other Pennsylvania team will be getting a little less attention Sunday, but a visit to the Meadowlands to play the Jets is vital nonetheless for Pittsburgh.
The Steelers are a 3-point road favorite despite numerous offensive problems, most notably at quarterback, where rookie undrafted free agent Devlin “Duck” Hodges disappointed his cult following by throwing four interceptions in a loss vs. the Bills Sunday night.
Like the Eagles, however, the 8-6 Steelers remain in control of their destiny to get into the playoffs. Win their last two (their finale is at Baltimore, and the Ravens may be resting key players if they have locked up the AFC’s top seed) and they will be in as the No. 6 seed.
The online sites have the Steelers as close to even money to do that. At the BetRivers and PlaySugarhouse sites of Rush Street Interactive, they are a slight underdog to make the playoffs, listed at +104 on the “yes” and -125 on the “no.”
Photo by Matthew Emmons / USA Today Sports
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