Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE
A sampling of predictions made for tonight's Cowboys @ Falcons clash. Will the Cowboys end the Falcons' unbeaten streak?
For a 7-0 team that's about to play a mistake-riddled 3-4 team, the Falcons aren't much of a favorite if you go by the Vegas odds, which currently have the Falcons as -3.5 favorites. The over/under is set at a relatively high 47.5, the highest value on Sunday, indicating that a fairly high-scoring affair is expected. At least that's what the Vegas experts expect.
Here's what a collection of other experts are predicting for tonight's game:
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports
||27-21||The Cowboys are coming off a tough division loss to the Giants, while the Falcons impressed in winning at Philadelphia. The Atlanta passing game is impressive and that will show up here. Look for a big game from Matt Ryan has he continues his MVP-like roll.|
Elliot Harrison, NFL.com
||29-24||I know, I know, Atlanta Falcons fans -- I'm gonna get ripped for this pick. But for those of you who aren't emotionally tied to this game, think about the Sunday nighter from this angle: How do the Falcons match up against the Dallas Cowboys? Atlanta's strength is its quarterback and wide receivers. Dallas' strength has been shutting down opposing wide receivers. The Falcons don't have the ground attack they once did, and Dallas has a healthy (and quite active) Pro Bowl nose tackle in Jay Ratliff. DeMarco Murray should also be back in the lineup, which doesn't bode well for a porous run defense in Atlanta that yields more than five yards per crack. The Falcons' best prognosis is for Tony Romo to throw three picks. That can't happen every week -- just like Mike Smith's team can't go 16-0.|
Peter King, SI.com
||27-24||If I were Jerry Jones, I'd have picked up the phone and dealt a fourth-round pick to St. Louis for Steve Jackson. He's the missing piece in a terminally disappointing running game -- and the type of player who could make a difference in games like this.|
Andrew Sharp, SBNaton
||The Falcons are not going undefeated this year, and the Cowboys are a mess but they're still good enough to beat anyone. It's the perfect storm of overrated vs. underrated, with one team due for bad luck, and one team really, REALLY due for some good luck. That Dez Bryant almost-touchdown was absolute torture, and if that doesn't buy Dallas some good karma, then nothing ever will and they'll be this bad forever. (A distinct possibility!)|
|Greg Cote, Miami Herald||27-24||Prime-time gets a good one Sunday, and an outright upset of the unbeaten Falcons would not surprise. Might have picked it, in fact, except that it looked like RB DeMarco Murray wouldn’t play for Dallas, and with backup Felix Jones also hurting, that’s a big chunk of offense missing. I still take the Birds with hesitation, and like ’Boys to keep it very close.|
|Randall The Handle, Toronto Sun||- -
||Backing the Cowboys is not for the faint of heart. They are an adventure in anxiety whether you take them or go against them. Still, the talent level remains high and if they can ever get through a game without multiple pumpkin head mistakes, they are a dangerous foe. Atlanta remains undefeated. They won't run the table but they are a well balanced team with good coaching and an MVP candidate in QB Matt Ryan. But the Falcons are not battle tested. They play in what is turning out to be a soft division (they have a four-game lead on Tampa already) and they have faced only one winning team when they hung on to beat Denver in a prime time game in Week 2. Dallas games provide drama until the final gun. No reason to believe this one will be any different.|
|Vinny Iyer, Sporting News||24-20
||The Cowboys just saw another potential big victory slip through their fingers, as they continue to give up the ball. They have a chance here because their defense has the personnel to slow down Matt Ryan and the high-flying Falcons. But Atlanta is tough to beat in the Georgia Dome at night, and it’s easier to trust Ryan to make good late decisions than Tony Romo|
|Chris Schultz, TSN.ca||- -
||There is no doubt that the biggest problem with the Dallas Cowboys is the Dallas Cowboys. By the time the season is over, Tony Romo will probably break his personal record for most interceptions in a season. And they are playing a Falcons team with a QB in Matt Ryan who is 29-4 at home in the Georgia Dome. But Dallas was down 24-0 at one time to the Giants and found the will to come back and make it a game. The Falcons are the better team; the Cowboys are the desperate team. Take Dallas.|
Many sites publish their picks without providing any specific commentary. The sum of these panels does not favor the Cowboys.
|Pro Football Focus||8||0|
|NFL Around The League||4||1|
Closer to home, eight of the the Dallas Morning News experts make picks, with the vote coming down 6-2 in favor of the Falcons. David Moore and Barry Horn take the Cowboys.
The ESPNDallas 12-man panel vote 12-2 vote in favor of the Falcons. Jeff Wade and Nate Newton hold the dissenting opinions.
Clarence Hill of the Star-Telegram thinks the Cowboys can't win on Sunday night, and has the Falcons ahead 30-23.
So there you have it. Nobody really trusts that the Falcons are anywhere near as good as their record indicates. Then again, nobody trust the Cowboys to not deliver another masterclass in offensive ineptitude either.
So what's your take, can the Cowboys play a largely mistake-free game, and will it be enough against the Falcons?