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Following a 3-0 start to this season it looks like the Super Bowl hangover is hitting the Atlanta Falcons, as the defending NFC champs are just 1-4 straight up and 0-5 against the spread their last five times out. Can Atlanta turn things around when it takes on the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday afternoon in Texas?
NFL betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 24.7-23.7 Cowboys (NFL picks on every game).
Why the Cowboys can cover the spread
The Cowboys are 3-0 both SU and ATS their last three times out, after beating Kansas City last week 28-17 and covering as three-point favorites. Dallas led the Chiefs early 7-0 and 14-3 late in the second quarter, but gave up a touchdown on what was basically a 56-yard screen play on the final play of the first half.
The Cowboys then fell down to the Chiefs 17-14 midway through the third quarter but regained the lead on a short Ezekiel Elliot scoring run, then iced the victory on a short Dak Prescott touchdown pass to Cole Beasley midway through the fourth.
On the day, Dallas outgained Kansas City 375-323, outrushed the Chiefs 131-68 and scored touchdowns on all four of its incursions into the Kansas City red zone. The Cowboys have now outgained each of their last five opponents and outrushed their last six foes.
At 5-3 overall, Dallas would be the No. 6 seed in the NFC if the playoffs started today.
Why the Falcons can cover the spread
The Falcons are coming off another tough defeat, a 20-17 decision at Carolina last week. Atlanta led that game 10-0 after one quarter but went cold from there. Later, trailing by 10 on a fourth down, wide receiver Julio Jones dropped a touchdown in the end zone, and the Falcons couldn’t recover.
On the afternoon, Atlanta outgained Carolina 355-330. But in the sequence that basically decided the game the Falcons got stuffed on fourth down late in the second quarter, leading directly to a Panthers touchdown, and just after that, QB Matt Ryan threw an interception that led to another Carolina score.
Atlanta has outgained five of its last six opponents. Unfortunately, it’s lost three of those games.
The Falcons rank sixth in the league in total offense and 12th in total defense, and rankings like that are more indicative of a winning team, at least 5-3, rather than one struggling to play .500.
The team that wins the ground battle here will probably win this game, and as long as Elliot is playing that team is most likely to be Dallas. The smart money here backs the Cowboys.
NFL betting trends
The favored team is 12-3 SU in its last 15 games in this matchup.
The total has gone over in four of the Cowboys’ last five games against the Falcons.
The Cowboys are 8-3 SU and ATS in their last 11 games in Week 10.
All NFL odds and betting trends courtesy of Bleacher Report’s official odds partner, OddsShark. All quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line-movement updates and the OddsShark YouTube page for picks and analysis, or download the free odds tracker app.