Both teams will be trying to get to .500 and stay in the playoff race when the Dallas Cowboys visit the Atlanta Falcons in Week 11 action. Game time is at 1:00 EST on Sunday, November 18, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. A majority of the country will be able to watch the game on Fox.
Oddsmakers list the Falcons as 3.5-point favorites at home. The over/under is set at 48 points. Click here to check out a full list of betting odds for this week’s NFL games.
The Falcons appeared to be moving in the right direction and ready to make a late-season playoff push. But that changed last week when they lost to the Browns 28-16. The loss dropped Atlanta back below .500 at 4-5. The good news is that there’s a lot of mediocrity fighting for the second wild-card spot in the NFC, so the Falcons are far from out of the playoff picture at 4-5.
That being said, Atlanta’s margin for error is definitely shrinking. They also have a difficult schedule to close out the season, with four of their final six games on the road. Among the opponents for those road games are the Saints, Packers, and Panthers. That makes Sunday’s home game against the Cowboys a virtual must-win for the Falcons.
Of course, the Cowboys are also a part of that jumbled 4-5 mess in the NFC. In fact, Dallas may have saved their season last week by scoring a big road win over the division rival Eagles. It was the team’s first road win of the season, which should give them a little bit of confidence heading to Atlanta this week. That win also kept the Cowboys within two games of Washington at the top of the NFC East.
If the Cowboys can find a way to steal a win in Atlanta, they’ll benefit from playing their next three games at home, where they’re 3-1 on the season. As it stands, the Cowboys are very much alive in both the division and wild-card race. Of course, things are a little tenuous for Dallas and any loss at this point in the season would be a huge blow to their playoff chances.
I hate overreacting too much to the previous week, but the Cowboys are coming off their best offensive showing of the game, and it came on the road. The Falcons also regressed considerably a week ago, and not even Matt Ryan could save them. Coming off that performance, I’m not buying to Atlanta to cover more than a field goal. That makes me lean toward Dallas and the points.
Whatever progress the Falcons appeared to be making on defense went completely out the window last week. They were absolutely shredded on the ground by Cleveland’s Nick Chubb, who posted 176 yards on 20 carries, including one that went for 92 yards. It shouldn’t have been a huge surprise with Atlanta giving up over five yards per carry on the ground this season. Even with Deion Jones set to return from injury, the Falcons have some serious issues on the defensive side of the ball.
For a team with problems stopping the run, the Cowboys are the last team Atlanta wants to see right now. Ezekiel Elliott continues to be a workhorse, helping to make Dallas one of the best rushing teams in the NFL. Last week against a supposedly solid Eagles defense, Elliott went off for 151 yards on 19 carries. It’s also worth noting that Atlanta’s defense has had problems all season with running backs catching passes out of the backfield. Elliott just so happens to have 10 catches for 87 yards in his last two games. In short, Elliott creates huge matchup problems for the Falcons.
We also have to mention Dak Prescott’s sudden foray into being a competent passer. Prescott was 26 for 36 for 270 yards passing last week. Again, it was on the road against a Philadelphia defense that isn’t terrible. Admittedly, that game could be just an aberration for Prescott. But keep in mind that the Cowboys now have Amari Cooper, who is already making a noticeable impact.
Of course, we can’t forget about the Atlanta defense, which is still one of the best in the league. The Falcons are averaging 27 points per game on the season, and that number increases to 32 points at home. Matt Ryan and the Atlanta passing game can be close to unstoppable at times, especially at home, as they are perfectly suited to play indoors.
However, the Dallas defense will give them some resistance. The Cowboys should be able to shut down an already lackluster Atlanta rushing attack. Dallas has also done all right against the pass this year. They’ve had some issues at times, but remember that the Panthers, Texans, Redskins, and Eagles have all been held to 20 points or less against the Cowboys.
In the end, Atlanta may have the firepower in the passing game to pull off a win. But their lack of running game will make it difficult to win by a wide margin. The Cowboys also have the tools on offense to take advantage of a vulnerable Atlanta defense. I wouldn’t rule out a Dallas win, and frankly, the Falcons should consider themselves lucky to win this game by a field goal. That means taking Dallas and the points is the smart move.