Check out our best bets in this week’s Fab Five-NFL Edition:
The Atlanta Falcons and Dallas Cowboys probably face must-win situations in terms of their NFC wild-card hopes when they clash at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Sunday afternoon. It seemed the Falcons had turned things around with three straight wins, but they lost at Cleveland last week. Dallas is also 4-5 overall but is coming off a big win over Philadelphia.
Wide receiver Amari Cooper is wasting no time making an impact with the Cowboys. Cooper, who was traded by Oakland on Oct. 22 for a first-round draft pick, has 11 receptions on 18 targets for 133 yards and one touchdown through two games with his new team. The former Alabama standout caught six passes for 75 yards during Dallas’ huge 27-20 win at Philadelphia in Week 10.
“He’s a great receiver,” quarterback Dak Prescott said of Cooper. “And when you bring in a great receiver like that who runs the routes like he does and gets separation, I told you I didn’t think it was going to be a hard transition to get on the same page with him.”
“I expected to come in here and make plays to help this team win, definitely,” Cooper commented. “And obviously they expected me to do the same being that they traded for me. Obviously we have some things to work on, me and Dak. We’ve talked about it, but we’re creating that chemistry. We’re going to get better.”
Cooper has led the Cowboys in targets and receptions in both games. With just three full practices prior to his debut team debut against Tennessee on Monday night in Week 9, he had five catches for 58 yards and a score. Ten of his 11 catches have gone for a first down. He is already second on the team in first-down receptions after only two games (Cole Beasley is first with 23).
Where’s the pass rush?
Atlanta signed Bruce Irvin prior to last week’s game against Cleveland in an attempt to bolster its pass rush, but that didn’t happen in a 28-16 loss to the Browns. The visitors failed to sack Cleveland QB Baker Mayfield a single time, in part because the Browns’ rushing attack was dominant to the extent that Atlanta’s defense was always off balance and on its heels.
“I don’t think we had enough opportunities, honestly,” Irvin admitted. “They did a good job of switching it up. When we had our base personnel out there, and they were passing. And when we put our nickel group out there, they were running. They did a good job of mixing it up and keeping us off balance.”
“If you try to look too far down the line I think you’re going to miss what’s right in front of you and how you have to go after it and attack it.”
DQ is focused on right here, right now.
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) November 14, 2018
The Falcons have 17 sacks this season, which is tied for the fourth-fewest in the NFL. In order for Atlanta to get more opportunities to rush the quarterback, head coach Dan Quinn believes the defense needs to be more effective on first and second downs–thus putting opponents in obvious passing situation while facing third-and-long situations.
The Atlanta Falcons are:
- 5-2 ATS in their last seven games against Dallas
- 4-1 ATS in their last five November games
- 4-1 Under in their last five home games against Dallas
The Dallas Cowboys are:
- 1-3-1 ATS in their last five games following a win
- 1-4 ATS in their last five games after allowing more than 350 yards in their previous game
- 13-5 Under in their last 18 overall
Updated on Nov 18 at 5:55am EST
Update prepared by our editoral staff
Public Money / Line Movements
The Line has stayed at Atlanta -3 all week with 51% of the bets coming in on Dallas. Nothing to read into that.
Injury / Weather Report
Dallas’ Impact Injury Report
WR Tavon Austin (136 Yards, 2 TDs) and LB Sean Lee (27 Tackles) are both out.
OG Zack Martin (9 Starts) and OG Connor Williams (8 Starts) are both questionable.
Atlanta’s Impact Injury Report
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Dallas is a woeful 28th in the league in passing offense, so it may not be able to exploit Atlanta’s primary weakness. The Cowboys are just barely staying alive in the playoff picture, but they aren’t doing so thanks to any standout wins. Beating Philadelphia is solid by their standards, but the Eagles don’t resemble the Super Bowl champions of 2017-18. The Falcons are 5-2 ATS in the last seven meetings between the two teams and the favorite is 4-1 ATS in the last five head-to-head matchups.
Prediction: Atlanta Falcons
Full-Game Total Pick
Irvin should be able to help Atlanta’s pass-rush as he continues to get more comfortable in the defense. Dallas, meanwhile, is a horrendous 29th in the NFL in total offense. As for the Falcons’ offense, it still isn’t the consistent machine that it was in 2016 even though it has improved from last year’s relative disaster. The under is 13-5 in the Cowboys’ last 18 overall, 20-6 in their last 26 on the road, 7-2 in their last nine against the NFC, and 5-2 in their last seven against losing opponents. It is also 22-9 in the Falcons’ last 31 November contests and 13-6-1 in their last 20 in Week 11. Additionally, the under is 4-1 in Dallas’ last five trips to Atlanta. Look for this one to stay under the total.