Sunday Night Football Picks — Cowboys Send Raw Rookie Out vs. Eagles

DALLAS COWBOYS at PHILADELPHIA EAGLES, 8:20 PM ET (NBC)

BetOnline Sunday Night Football Odds: Eagles -11 (-113), Cowboys +11 (-107)

Total: 42.5 Points

Believe it or not, the winner would be in first place in the NFC East – Dallas is 2-5 SU (0-7 ATS), while Philly is 2-4-1 (2-5 ATS).

We wouldn’t go so far as to say that things started out swimmingly for the Dallas Cowboys, but they sure started out differently. Quarterback Dak Prescott was looking for a contract that would make him one of the highest-paid players in the game. He turned down the Cowboys’ offer, and took on the franchise tag for one year.

He was putting up big numbers; in fact, he set an NFL record for passing yards over a two-game period. We wish we could say that it was bringing wins or pointspread covers, but we really can’t. But it was fun to watch.

Then Prescott suffered a gruesome ankle injury that will put him out for the season. The Cowboys had Andy Dalton as an insurance policy, but he couldn’t get much done behind an offensive line that was in tatters. And then Dalton sustained a concussion, which has taken him out for this week.

That left Dallas with limited options. The one who will be taking snaps on Sunday night is Ben DiNucci, a rookie who’ll be making his first NFL start. Behind him will be Garrett Gilbert, who’s been around – with seven different teams, in fact – but has thrown only six passes. And just signed to the practice squad is Cooper Rush, who knows offensive coordinator Kellen Moore’s system from his tenure with the Cowboys last year.

All of this might leave BetOnline patrons wondering why the left-handed Moore, who is only 32, doesn’t just suit up and play.

Let’s talk about DiNucci for a second. He has a previous connection of sorts with coach Mike McCarthy, having played basketball under his brother Joe in high school. He went to the University of Pittsburgh, and lost his job to a freshman QB. Like many signal-callers who lose their starting jobs, he sought a transfer and went to James Madison, an FCS entry where he could play right away. As a senior he led JMU to the FCS title game. Some of the NFL scouts were very impressed with his workouts, and he wound up being drafted in the seventh round.

He’s not overly big (6-2 and about 205). But he has a relatively quick release. And he is said to be a good decision-maker. But he is very much a babe in the woods right now. And when he stepped in for Dalton he got three passes off and was sacked three times.

The Cowboys will get Zach Martin back for their offensive line this week. But they are still missing tackles Tyron Smith and La’el Collins, as well as backup tackle Brandon Knight. So on one side they’ll be going with a third-stringer. Center Jon Looney might be available, but he won’t start. DiNucci could well be a sitting duck back there if hesitates at all getting rid of the football.

The Eagles’ situation is a little better, in the respect that they have Carson Wentz in uniform. But they are missing a lot of people on offense. This includes Miles Sanders, their leading running back; wide outs DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery; tight end Zach Ertz and most likely Dallas Goedert. Rookie WR Jalen Reagor might be available. Tackle Lane Johnson will probably get to play.

We grant you that almost any running back the Eagles toss out there is likely to make advances against the Dallas defensive front, which has been ripped apart by Arizona and Washington the last two games. Maybe that will help Philadelphia control the ball and control the clock. And Ezekiel Elliott might be the best hope for Dallas; he’s averaged a little over a hundred yards a game when playing the Eagles.

Because of these offensive line problems, it is very hard for us to back Dallas. And we’d investigate the posted team total of 15.5 points. We think the Eagles’ line has become inflated, so on general principles we’d stay away – no value. But we would certainly advocate for the UNDER, inasmuch as we don’t see a lot of evidence that you’re going to see explosive offense out there.

With an over-under of 222 passing yards, you’ll get close to even money (-102) on Ben DiNucci at BetOnline, which has an amazing array of options when it comes to NFL betting. Just check out the sportsbook and you’ll see what they have available. …… Greatly enhanced payouts on pre-selected parlays are available with Odds Booster, and you can make your deposits using a lot of cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin!

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