Cowboys vs. Broncos Preview + Free Pick August 15th, 2008
By: NFL Handicapping Staff
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Time to Cowboy Up to the Mile High Stadium
The Dallas Cowboys (13-3 SU, 9-7 ATS in 2007 regular season; 0-1 SU & ATS in pre-season) and the Denver Broncos (7-9 SU, 5-11 ATS in 2007; 0-1 SU, 0-0-1 ATS in pre-season) are two teams who are looking to improve on their initial outing. They clash on Saturday night at Invesco Field (natural turf) in Denver in an NFL contest that will kick off at 9 PM ET.
Saturday, August 16
BetUS NFL betting odds: DENVER -2.5, Total 37
NOTABLE STAT: Denver was 30th in rushing yards allowed in 2007 (142.6 ypg)
KEY NFL FOOTBALL BETTING TREND: Both have covered eight of last 13 in pre-season
In the Top Sportsbooks NFL pre-season football betting odds, the Broncos are listed as a 2.5-point favorite, with the total posted at 37 points.
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Here are some NFL football betting trends as they relate to this matchup (reflecting numbers going into the 2008 season):
* DALL has lost three of its last four games SU
* DALL has won eight of its last 11 games SU
* DALL has played its last four games UNDER the total
* DALL has lost its last five games ATS
* DALL has won seven of its last eight road games SU
* DALL has covered two of its last six road games
* DALL has played six of its last seven road games OVER the total
* DEN has lost nine of its last 14 games SU
* DEN has covered six of its last 24 games
* DEN has played 15 of its last 21 games OVER the total
* DEN has won and covered four of its last five home games
* DALL is 8-4-1 SU in its last 13 pre-season games
* DALL has covered eight of its last 13 pre-season games
* DEN has won nine of its last 13 pre-season games SU
* DEN has covered eight of its last 13 pre-season games
It is not too hard to follow along with the Cowboys if you have been watching the HBO series “Hard Knocks,” which is taking a “reality” look at their training camp. For example, you know that Martellus Bennett, the tight end who was drafted in the second round, is struggling with his assignments and perhaps doesn’t look like he’s putting his best efforts out there at all times; or that Felix Jones, the first-rounder from Arkansas, is a personal favorite of Cowboy owner (and Arkansas alum) Jerry Jones, and that he has the kind of speed that can turn a game around quickly; or that running back Keon Lattimore, who didn’t see action in the first pre-season game against San Diego, is the brother of All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis and has some pretty good moves on the field.
You also can tell from that show, and from watching Dallas’ pre-season game against the Chargers, that Brad Johnson, the backup QB, can’t really “zip it” anymore. Supposedly he is going to get a chance to play much more with the first-team offense in this game, which might mean that Dallas wants to see what it really has before deciding to look elsewhere for backup help. So that means Johnson for the bulk of the first half, and somebody like Richard Bartel, who was 7-for-15 against San Diego, in the second half.
I have to imagine Johnson will continue to stay in the game even if he is struggling, and that might mean many of the starters will as well. But obviously no one knows for sure.
If you listen to the writers and the bloggers, it is Denver that has a bigger problem with its backup quarterback situation. Patrick Ramsey threw for 2.9 an attempt in the opener against Houston, and was intercepted twice. Who is Darrell Hackney? Well, he’s the former signal-caller at Alabama-Birmingham who was a member of Denver’s practice squad last year and might be the Bronco backup when all is said and done. There is no telling how long Jay Cutler will play in this game, but he was very efficient as these teams scrimmaged against each other this week, going nine-of-ten in a two-minute drill.
What I like about the Cowboys is that they do have some guys looking to prove themselves at the skill positions. Miles Austin had a very good game against the Chargers at the wide receiver spot, as did running back Tashard Choice, who ran for 5.7 yards a carry. Felix Jones, of course, looks like he’s the kind of guy who can take it the distance every time he touches it. And I don’t know why, but somehow I have visions of Drew Bledsoe’s pre-season performance against New Orleans a couple of years ago (when he fought off Tony Romo) as I think of Brad Johnson possibly playing for his job on Saturday. Don’t ask me why.
We’ll take the Cowboys, the 2.5-point underdog in the Top Sportsbooks NFL pre-season football betting odds.
JAY’S PLAY: DALLAS +2.5 *
(Graded on a scale of 1-4 stars)
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