The NFC playoff picture is a hot mess, but for the Eagles, things are pretty simple. Beat the Cowboys, move into first-place atop the NFC East, and live to fight for a division championship down the stretch. Lose and it’s over. Yeah, the Eagles wouldn’t be mathematically eliminated with a second loss to Dallas in five weeks, but they would need to run the table against a brutal schedule, while the Cowboys would need to lose all three of their remaining games. It’s hard to imagine either of those scenarios playing out, and the numbers back it up.

According to the New York Times Playoff Simulator, the Eagles’ odds of winning the division increase from approximately 19% to 44% with a win. Those odds drop to 1% with a loss– so it’s essentially a must-win spot for Philly as it reprises the familiar underdog role that fueled its Super Bowl run a season ago. Can they get in done in Dallas? Let’s take a look.

The action

The Eagles opened almost across the board as a 4-point underdog, but some sharp action kicked them to 3.5 earlier this week. The public likes the favorite, with 62% of the point-spread tickets backing the Cowboys. The money, however, backs the Birds, with 52% of the money on the underdog. That suggests the big money bettors like the Eagles right now.


So where’s the value? As of this morning, those looking to take the Eagles against the spread should head to SugarHouseSportsbook or DraftKings Sportsbook and grab them at +3.5 (-114). Those that like the Cowboys can get them for the optimal price at FanDuel Sportsbook at -3.5 (+105). Moneyline bettors that want to take a shot on the Eagles can get them for the best value at BetStars for +155. In terms of the total, it’s set at 44 and -110 on both the over and under.

Of course, if you’re a new user and like the Eagles outright, DraftKings Sportsbook is offering new users a 3x Profit Boost on winning bets backing the Eagles (exclusive, use this link to get that offer).


Trends to know

The Eagles’ 4-8 record ATS gives them the NFL’s fifth-worst cover rate this season at 33.3%, while the Cowboys’ 7-5 ATS mark is tied for the league’s sixth-best at 58.3%. The Eagles, 2-3 ATS away from Lincoln Financial Field, are underdogs for only the second time this season. The first time didn’t go so well, as they were utterly destroyed by the Saints, but the Eagles are both 6-2 ATS and 6-2 SU the last eight times they were underdogs. The Cowboys, meanwhile, are 4-2 ATS at home, but are only 2-3 as a favorite this season, a role they’ve struggled in under Jason Garrett. Here’s something to chew on: Dallas is a woeful 16-30 ATS as a home favorite under Garrett, although they are an improved 8-8 ATS in this role since the start of the 2016 season.

When evaluating games, I examine dozens of angles to see if the trends, both team-centric and league-wide, favor one side. This is one of the few games where the most convincing trends seem to be evenly distributed. For example, there’s plenty of good stuff to rely on for those backing the Eagles. When the Eagles are hot on offense, it tends to carry over. Philadelphia is 9-4 ATS in their last 13 games after accumulating more than 350 yards in their previous game. While they left some scoring opportunities on the field last week against Washington, they also moved the ball at will, and that bodes well for them this week. Moreover, there are some contextual factors specific to this matchup that favor Philadelphia. The road team has won 9 of the last 11 games and covered 11 of the last 14 between these two teams. What’s more, Eagles are 5-2 ATS in their last seven trips to Dallas.

An angle I was particularly interested in was based on the idea that the Cowboys’ defense is getting a bit too much respect ahead of this game. It has been a solid unit all season, but its otherworldly performance last week against the Saints has everybody swooning over it. Recently, Dallas has struggled covering the number after allowing 15 points or less in its previous game, going 0-3-1 ATS. I also wondered how the Cowboys have performed this season as a public favorite when the sharp money doesn’t follow. When the difference of point-spread bets placed and point-spread money on the Cowboys differs up to 16%, Dallas is 1-3 ATS this season. Basically, I wanted to know how this Cowboys team has performed as a square favorite, and the answer is, well, not good.

That’s the good news for the Eagles. Now for the bad.

Philadelphia is only 2-7 ATS in its last nine games when playing on Sunday after a Monday Night game. The Cowboys, who have covered four-straight, are 6-1 ATS in their last seven contests against the NFC East, while Jason Garrett is 7-2 ATS when favored at home after winning the previous game as an underdog.


The Eagles are 1-6 ATS this season (the win came against Washington) when facing a defense that was allowing a completion percentage of 64% or greater coming into the game. One theory that explains these baffling situational struggles is that Pederson has a propensity to call a one-dimensional, pass-happy offense against teams with weaker defenses, as if he simply can’t help himself. You saw a little bit of that in the first matchup between these two teams when the Eagles threw the ball 44 times, compared to only 16 runs.

The Eagles, however, have been more balanced, committing to the run game during their two-game win streak, and the offensive line has seemingly gained some momentum because of it, so we’ll see how Pederson plays it on Sunday.

Home under, road Over

Currently, the total is set at 44 at most sportsbooks for this contest. It’s been a pretty simple formula for betting totals with the Eagles. When they’re at home, back the under, and when they’re on the road, roll with the over.

The under has hit in 18 of 25 Eagles games, including the postseason, at Lincoln Financial Field under Pederson, and it is on a 10-2 run dating back to late last November. This season, the under has hit in six of seven games at The Linc. Meanwhile, the over has hit in 15 of 21 games on the road under Pederson, including 5 of the 7 contests against NFC East opponents. One more thing: 20 of the Eagles’ last 26 road games dating back to Chip Kelly’s tenure have gone over the total.

One word of caution: there’s a strong historical league-wide trend backing the under. After Week 10, including the postseason, the under on totals between 44.5 and 60 in a division game has gone 169-104-3. This trend was crucial in my suggestion to play the under a week ago in the Eagles-Redskins game, and if a situation hits at a 62% rate over more than a 15-year sample, that’s pretty damn strong. This game total currently falls 1/2 point shy of the parameters of this trend, but if it surges upward prior to kick off, keep this in mind.


Let me just do a little stream of consciousness exercise as I consider this game:

Dak Prescott…Jason Garrett…public team…feeling themselves off a huge win…media slurping…revenge spot for Eagles…with a better quarterback…moved ball to the tune of 421 yards a month ago against this supposedly outstanding Dallas defense…offensive line is playing better

At the end of the day, who are the Cowboys to get that type of respect? Sorry, I’m out. The Dallas defense is good, but they’re not an elite unit. They played one lights out game and now all of a sudden they’re some impenetrable force? I’m going the other way on it. As I previously mentioned, they have been absolutely woeful as home favorites under Garrett. Four weeks ago—not four months ago—if I told basically anybody that the Cowboys would beat the Eagles twice this season, that statement would have been met with a hearty L.O.L.

I expect a close game between what I still think are two evenly matched teams, and in this spot, I’ll go against the public and take the points. I’ll also lean on the over.