Free NFL Picks: Eagles, Cowboys Clash in NFC East Showdown

Dec 9, 2018

Oskeim Sports previews Sunday’s game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys.  Oskeim recommends taking the points with the Eagles as one of his free NFL picks.

Oskeim also suggests taking the New York Jets plus the points as one of his free NFL picks for Sunday, December 9.  Visit Oskeim’s Blog on a daily basis for more free NFL picks!

This game has massive playoff implications for both teams. A Dallas win would all but lock up the NFC East for the Cowboys and essentially crush any hopes the Eagles had for making the postseason.

Philadelphia would have to run the table to have any hopes of finishing ahead of the Vikings, which is improbable with games against the Rams and Texans left on the schedule.

A win by Carson Wentz & Co. would make the Eagles the favorite to win the division. I like Philadelphia’s chances of improving its playoff positioning based on a very good 10-1 ATS (90%) situation (dates back to 1990) that invests on certain .500 NFL teams in Game Thirteen of the season if they (a) are coming off a win, (b) are playing a divisional opponent and (c) playing a divisional opponent.

Philadelphia also applies to a very good 40-15 ATS contrarian system that invests on certain NFL road teams in December affairs that have failed to meet market expectations in three of their past four games.

The road team is 11-3 ATS in the last fourteen meetings in this series and the Eagles have covered the Vegas number in five of their last 7 trips to Dallas. The Cowboys are just 3-13 ATS in their previous sixteen home games in this series when Philadelphia arrives with a .500 or worse record.

Let’s also note that defending Super Bowl champions are a profitable 16-10-1 SU and 20-6-1 ATS as road underdogs versus foes entering off back-to-back SU and ATS wins, including 6-3 SU and 7-1 ATS in division games.

Despite winning and covering four straight games, it can’t be lost on us that Dallas head coach Jason Garrett is a money-burning 16-33 ATS as a home favorite in his career, including 5-19 ATS as a home favorite versus opponents arriving off a win and 0-15 ATS when the Cowboys scored fewer than 30 points in their previous game.

From a fundamental standpoint, I expect the Eagles to utilize a heavy dose of play-action (2nd-most in the league) against a Dallas defense that struggles to defend against it.

Specifically, Philadelphia is averaging 8.0 yards with play-action this season compared to 6.2 yards per play on other pass plays). The Cowboys are allowing 8.1 yards per pass attempt against play-action (19th in NFL) this season and yielded 9.9 net yards per pass on play-action in their Week Ten meeting against Philadelphia.

One of my concerns in this game was Philadelphia’s inability to tackle, especially in the open field (i.e gains made by running backs more than 10 yards past the line of scrimmage).

The Eagles’ stop unit ranks last in the league in open-field yards per carry and 29th in the percentage of plays in which they have had broken tackles on defense. However, despite having Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield, the Cowboys are 29th in the league in total broken tackles (Elliot has broken tackles on 12.3 percent of this rush attempts).

In short, the Eagles’ tackling weakness is offset by a Dallas offense that does not break tackles. Philadelphia only blitzes on 17.6 percent of pass plays (29th), which is significant in that Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott has a higher QBR against pressure this season (60.0).

Finally, the Cowboys have one of the league’s worst red-zone offenses (31st), whereas Philadelphia owns the NFL’s fourth-best red-zone defense.

Grab the points with the Eagles as one of Oskeim Sports’ Free NFL Picks for Sunday, December 9.

Oskeim Sports’ Free NFL Picks:

  • Philadelphia Eagles (+3.5) (-120) over Dallas Cowboys
  • New York Jets (+4) (-110) over Buffalo Bills