The Cowboys may be the popular pick, but all that means for Cowboys fans is that the team will have to be extra vigilant not to give this one away.
This afternoon, the 4-5 Dallas Cowboys meet the 2-7 Cleveland Browns, who are currently on an 11-game skid in road games. Predictably, the Cowboys are -8 favorites to win this one.
Here's what a sampling of NFL experts are predicting for today's game:
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports
||27-14||The Cowboys might have turned their season around with the fourth-quarter play against the Eagles. Now they have to carry it over against a team they should beat at home. The Browns have improved. But this is a big task against a team that might be ready to surge. Look for the Cowboys to get after Brandon Weeden.|
Elliot Harrison, NFL.com
||26-17||The Dallas Cowboys get a late field goal to extend their lead, giving Brandon Weeden too much ground to make up to win the game. On that note, the Cleveland Browns are better equipped to get back into games with the explosive Josh Gordon and improving Greg Little. How will these two fare versus Cowboys cornerbacks Brandon Carr and the (recently) struggling Morris Claiborne? With Jay Ratliff back manning the nose, rushing yards might be difficult to come by for Trent Richardson, although I'd expect him to have decent production (80 yards). The problem for the Browns will be stopping the Cowboys' offense, which has been more effective of late. Over their last two games, Tony Romo has completed 70 percent of his passes and posted passer ratings of 109.3 and 122.1.|
Peter King, SI.com
||27-24||Has anyone stopped to figure out that if Dallas wins this game and then the Thanksgiving tilt with the traveling-on-a-short-week Redskins, the Cowboys will be a half-game behind the New York Giants (on bye this week) for the division lead by the time the Giants play next -- against the Packers, at home, on Thanksgiving weekend?|
Clarence Hill, Star-Telegram
||28-17||Dallas is still a flawed football team. But the Cowboys have cut down on their turnovers and that should be good enough to beat the woeful Browns, giving them back-to-back wins for the first time all season.|
|Chris Pokorny, Dawgs By Nature||28-23||I'd love to pick the Browns to win, but I have to go with the percentages. Tony Romo is 20-3 in the month of November, and he could be facing a porous Browns secondary. While the Browns have played some teams tough on the road, they haven't won away from home in over a year. I think Cleveland will play a highly competitive game, but fall just short.|
|Vinny Iyer, Sporting News||23-20
||Trent Richardson will do his best Emmitt Smith impression and former college Cowboy Brandon Weeden will keep the Browns hanging around. But, eventually, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan will call the right plays to rattle those rookies while Dallas' offensive veterans will come through late.|
Many sites publish their picks without providing any specific commentary. The Cowboys are overwhelming favorites on those panels:
|Pro Football Focus||8||0|
|NFL Around The League||4||1|
|Inside the NFL||2||0|
If you were to go by what the experts say, the Cowboys should easily win the game this afternoon. But as Cowboys fans know all too well, what the experts say often doesn't mean all that much. If the Cowboys get caught up in their own hype this could easily be a game that could go both ways.
So what's your take on this afternoon's game?