MNF News and Notes September 15

MNF News and Notes September 15

Monday Night Football: What's in a line?
By T.O. WHENHAM

It was supposed to be an unplanned NFL double-header on Monday night. Baltimore's game in Houston had been postponed from Sunday to Monday because of Hurricane Ike, but damage to Reliant Stadium has postponed it longer. Not that it really matters. No one could honestly say that they were looking forward to watching that game - not even the mothers of the players. What is left is the best game of the week, played under the brightest lights the league has to offer. Two high profile teams that are easy to love or love to hate, each packed to overflowing with characters and drama.

Philadelphia Eagles (+7) at Dallas Cowboys

If you put a lot of faith in what the public thinks then this game could be close, but it will be a shootout. At least that's how the betting action is tilting. More than sixty percent of bettors are backing the Eagles, and that has moved the line from the opening nine down to the key number of seven in a lot of places, and even 6 1/2 in some spots.

Both teams are coming off impressive, lopsided victories, but the public seems convinced that the Eagles have a better chance of repeating their showing - despite the fact that theirs didn't come against a real opponent. The fact that the Eagles looked like a finely tuned machine against the Rams isn't exactly inspiring. The only thing St. Louis is going to succeed at this year is getting their coach fired. Cleveland looked only marginally better than St. Louis when they played Dallas. The difference is that Cleveland has, at least on paper, the potential to be good. Dallas had to do some work to shut them down. Philadelphia just had to show up.

It's notable that the public isn't largely on the Cowboys. They are the definition of a public team. They have that tradition anyway, being America's Team and all. But when you add the dizzying collection of personalities on their current roster virtually no other team normally stands a chance. This betting distribution, then, is either a credit to the Eagles, or perhaps a sign that the public is tiring of the omnipresent tabloid team and its obnoxious owner. Or maybe the public just hates Jessica Simpson.

Last year's two matchups between the teams doesn't provide any clarity - Dallas won the first by three touchdowns, but lost the second 10-6 as 10-point favorites. Tony Romo had one of his best games in the first meeting, and perhaps his worst in the second. Donovan McNabb was only decent in both, but at this point in his career he deserves credit for having been healthy enough to finish both games.

The total is a bit odd. It's not surprising that it is relatively high - opening at 48 - or that the public is overwhelmingly on the over - about 75 percent. What is a bit eye-opening is the movement - the total has dropped, and can be found fairly widely at 46 1/2. That's not what you would expect given the action, and it's a sign that the books don't fear the public action.

Docsports.com

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Even in Week 2, Cowboys vs. Eagles a big game
By ASSOCIATED PRESS

IRVING, Texas (AP) -A few years ago, several Dallas Cowboys spent 14 seconds chasing Donovan McNabb all over the backfield, grabbing at air and running after him in vain, only to endure the further humiliation of seeing him cap the scramble with a 60-yard completion.

That pretty much sums up the way things have gone between the Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles most of this decade.

Philadelphia won the NFC East five times in the six seasons from 2001 to '06. Dallas was back on top last season, but the Eagles still found a way to mess things up for the Cowboys.

After a 12-1 start that included a romp in Philadelphia - a game best remembered for Jason Witten's long rumble after getting his helmet ripped off - the Eagles visited Texas Stadium in mid-December and knocked Dallas off its stride. The Cowboys went 1-3 the rest of the way, with the added embarrassment of becoming the NFC's first No. 1 seed not to win a playoff game since the six-team format began in 1990.

This season opened with Dallas billed as a Super Bowl favorite, and sure looked like it in the opener. Now the Cowboys are heading into their home opener Monday night - and it's against a Philadelphia team that looked great in its opener, too. If McNabb and the Eagles can keep it up, the guys in green might once again be Dallas' biggest obstacle.

''You want them to go away,'' said longtime Cowboys defensive standout Greg Ellis, chuckling slightly. ''But it makes for a good game. People are going to enjoy it.''

All week, there's been talk in both cities about a ''rivalry renewed.'' Truth is, both teams have seldom been on the upswing at the same time. We'll have to wait to see if this really is one of those times.

''It's an important game this week is what it is,'' Eagles coach Andy Reid said. ''You don't know, everything else, you're dealing with a crystal ball theory, man. You don't know what's going to happen after that. So you prepare yourself to play this one and play the best you can and don't worry about all that other stuff.''

He's right, of course. But he also speaks with the confidence of knowing the rematch will be at his place - in the season finale. That's when things really might be tense.

This game is noteworthy because it'll be the 30th and last on a Monday night at Texas Stadium. The Cowboys are leaving the building with the hole in the roof and moving into a $1.1 billion palace in nearby Arlington next fall.

''Hopefully after this game I can say I had great memories in the last game we played at Texas Stadium,'' joked McNabb, as if he didn't already have that miraculous play from 2005 as a keepsake.

Terrell Owens has done his best to inject himself into the story line of this game by reviving his feud with McNabb. A bitter divorce ripped apart the club's 2005 season - the Eagles' lone non-division title in that long streak - and resulted in Owens being cut. He came straight to Dallas and his career hasn't missed a beat. Owens and Tony Romo have combined for 26 touchdowns since 2006, far more than any other tandem.

''I feel strong about my position and what happened in Philly,'' Owens said, ''and I really don't feel like it was my fault.''

Philadelphia is among the few teams to slow Romo since he burst onto the scene.

He's 1-2 against the Eagles, with both losses at home. Last year, his worst performance came in the 10-6 loss at Texas Stadium: 13-of-36 with no touchdowns, three interceptions and four sacks, with a career-low passer rating of 22.2.

Philadelphia is always known for exotic, relentless blitzes, and this time Romo's blockers could include fill-in starter Cory Procter at left guard and, occasionally, rookie running back Felix Jones. The Eagles also have beefed up their secondary by adding cornerback Asante Samuel.

''Any time a team wants to get after you there's going to be opportunities for big plays,'' Romo said, as he does before every game against the Eagles. ''We'll see what their mind-set is going into the game and we'll get a feel for it early, I'm sure.''

Romo will play with stitches in his chin and lingering effects of a cut on his left middle finger. At least he won't have the bruised thumb on his throwing hand that may or may not have bothered him in last December's meeting.

As for McNabb, he seems to be finally over all the injuries that have slowed him in recent years. He threw for 361 yards and three touchdowns, with no interceptions or sacks, in a 38-3 victory over St. Louis last week.

''Everybody is counting them out, saying they can't do this, can't do that, and there they go, 38 points,'' Ellis said. ''That says a lot, not just for Donovan, but the whole team.''

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MNF - Eagles at Cowboys
By Brian Edwards

Monday Night Football takes us to Dallas in Week 2, as the Cowboys are set to play host to the Eagles. Both clubs are coming off dominant performances in season-opening victories.

Las Vegas Sports Consultants opened Dallas (1-0 straight up, 1-0 against the spread) as a seven-point favorite with a total of 47 ½. As of early this morning, most books had the Cowboys marked as either 6 ½-or-seven-point ‘chalk.’ Most spots that had the number at seven were forcing bettors to pay double juice (minus 120) if backing the Eagles, who are plus 240 on the money line (risk $100 to win $240).

Philadelphia (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS) took St. Louis behind the shed last week, trouncing the Rams by a 38-3 count as a nine-point favorite. Donovan McNabb was nothing short of sensational, completing 21-of-33 passes for 361 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Rookie wide receiver Desean Jackson had six receptions for 106 yards, while Greg Lewis had five catches for 104 yards. Hank Baskett had a pair of grabs for 102 yards, including a 90-yard TD catch in the second quarter that sent Philadelphia to intermission with a 21-0 advantage.

Dallas also had an easy time in its opener, spanking Cleveland 28-10 as a 6 ½-point favorite. Tony Romo threw for 321 yards and one touchdown, a 35-yard scoring strike to Terrell Owens.

The Cowboys had great balance as Romo distributed the wealth evenly. Owens had five receptions for 87 yards, while veteran TE Jason Witten had six catches for 96 yards. Patrick Crayton was also in the mix, bringing down six catches for 82 yards.

Marion Barber led the ground attack, rushing for 80 yards and two TDs on 16 carries. Felix Jones, the rookie first-round pick out of Arkansas, ran nine times for 62 yards, including an 11-yard TD scamper.

Curious about how Adam “Pacman” Jones did in his return to the field? Jones had one tackle and returned a pair of punts for eight total yards. The team’s other key defensive addition, LB Zach Thomas, was in on five tackles.

Dallas will be looking to avenge a late-season loss to the Eagles last year. Philadelphia went into Texas Stadium and emerged with a 10-6 win as a 10-point underdog. The ‘Boys had won the previous meeting in the City of Brotherly Love, where they captured a 38-17 triumph as 3 ½-point ‘chalk.’

Wade Phillips’ team won six of its nine home games in 2007, losing to the Patriots and Eagles before the Giants sent them packing out of the playoffs. Dallas was 5-3 ATS as a home favorite.

Philadelphia was dynamite as a road underdog last season, taking the money in all four such spots. The Eagles won three of those games outright. The only SU defeat? That was the Sunday night thriller at New England, where the Patriots were fortunate to stay unbeaten in a 31-28 ‘non-covering’ win as 25-point favorites.

Owens stoked the fire of this already-heated rivalry during the week, rewinding his bitter exit from Philadelphia and pointing to McNabb as the one at fault.

“The fans and just the excitement of me coming there and being there, it became too overwhelming for Donovan,” Owens told the Associated Press. “I think at one point in time, I will say that we had a good relationship. I think I got too big for Philly, too big for him. I just feel like in a sense that he felt like I was just probably getting too much attention. I feel strong about my position and what happened in Philly.”

ABC will provide television coverage at 8:30 p.m. Eastern.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

--The Eagles are 9-2 ATS in their last 11 games as underdogs.

--The Vikings are a joke. They have every piece you need to be a playoff team and potential Super Bowl contender. That is, every piece except for one. And that one weak link happens to be the most important position on the field. His name is Tarvaris Jackson. As I’ve been saying since Jackson came into the league, the dude is not a starting NFL quarterback. He couldn’t beat out Matt Jones at Arkansas in college, transferring to Alabama St. to get playing time.

--I’ve got two Matt Cassel stats: 1-0 as an NFL starter, zero interceptions in his first start. Nothing else matters. As we saw and I suspected (out loud on the Power Hours this past Thursday), New England is still going to be a playoff team. I don’t know how Cassel is going to play the rest of the way, but I do clearly see that Bill Belichick has confidence in him. And if Belichick has confidence in him, we shouldn’t discount the Patriots as a legit contender.

--Check out Aaron Rodgers, who has led the Packers to a 2-0 record while producing a 4/0 touchdown-interception ratio. It helps when you have a WR like Greg Jennings, who is a given to be a Pro-Bowler this season.

--Before Denver QB Jay Cutler made a couple of knucklehead plays late in the game, I was ready to anoint him as an MVP candidate. I’ll stick to that assertion, although I realize the Broncos got the benefit of some real shaky calls in a 39-38 come-from behind win over the Chargers.

--Best Players in Week 2:
1-Darren McFadden (Oakland RB): 21 carries for 164 yards, 1 TD.
2-Anquan Boldin (Arizona WR): six catches for 140 yards, 3 TDs.
3-Patrick Willis (San Francisco LB): 8 tackles, 87-yard INT return for TD.
4-Charles Woodson (Green Bay CB): two interceptions, one returned for a TD.
5-Jay Cutler (Denver QB): 36/50, 350 yards, 4/1 TD-INT ratio.

vegasinsider.com.

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Philadelphia (1-0 SU and ATS) at Dallas (1-0 SU and ATS)

A matchup between bitter NFC East rivals caps Week 2 of the NFL season, as the Eagles visit Texas Stadium for a prime-time battle with the Cowboys.

Philadelphia throttled the Rams in its season-opener, rolling 38-3 as a 9½-point home favorite, rolling up 526 total yards (414 passing) and 28 first downs while limiting St. Louis to 218 yards and eight first downs. QB Donovan McNabb looked in midseason form, completing 21 of 33 passes for 361 yards with three TDs and no interceptions as the Eagles won their fourth straight regular-season game (3-1 ATS) dating to last December.

Dallas was just as impressive as Philly in Week 1, hammering the Browns 28-10 and easily cashing as a six-point road favorite to halt an 0-5 ATS slide in regular-season and playoff games. Tony Romo (24-for-32, 320 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) was sharp, and the Cowboys amassed 487 total yards while holding the Browns to 205.

Dallas crushed the Eagles 38-17 as a three-point road favorite in last year’s first meeting, but the Philadelphia turned the tables late in the season with a 10-6 upset victory in Dallas as a 10-point underdog. In fact, the Eagles are 3-1 SU and ATS in their last four visits to Texas Stadium, including back-to-back outright upsets the last two years. Going back further, Andy Reid’s team has covered the number in nine of its last 12 trips to Dallas.

Also in this rivalry, the underdog is on a 6-1 ATS roll, and the visitor is 4-1 ATS in the last five.

Philadelphia has thrived in the underdog roll going back to 2006, cashing in eight of its last 10 as a pup, including going 4-1 ATS as a ‘dog last season. Also, the Eagles have cashed in six consecutive road games, and they’re 19-8 ATS in their last 27 as a road pup.

Dallas has covered in six consecutive September contests and five of its last six Week 2 affairs. On the flip side, Wade Phillips’ squad is mired in ATS funks of 0-4 against the NFC East, 0-5 versus the NFC and 1-4 on Monday nights. In fact, the Cowboys are only 9-17 ATS (14-12 SU) all-time in Monday night games at Texas Stadium.

The straight-up winner went 12-1-1 ATS in Sunday’s 14 contests and is now 27-2-1 ATS through the first two weeks of the season.

For the Eagles, the under is on streaks of 4-1 overall, 4-1 in September, 6-2 versus the NFC East and 13-5-2 on Monday night. The under is also 5-0 in Dallas’ last five overall, but otherwise the Cowboys are on over streaks of 6-2-1 on Monday nights, 5-2-1 in September and 6-1 following a spread-cover. Finally, the under is 3-0 in the last three series meetings at Texas Stadium.

ATS ADVANTAGE: PHILADELPHIA

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Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys

Oddsmakers currently have the Cowboys listed as 7-point favorites versus the Eagles, while the game's total is sitting at 47.

The Eagles crushed St. Louis 38-3 as an 8.5-point favorite last week. The combined score fell UNDER the posted over/under total (43.5).

Donovan McNabb passed for 361 yards with three touchdowns for Philadelphia, while Brian Westbrook rushed for 91 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries while also catching a TD pass.

The Cowboys defeated Cleveland 28-10 as a 6-point favorite last week. The combined score fell UNDER the posted over/under total (48.5).

Marion Barber rushed for 80 yards on 16 carries with a pair of touchdowns for Dallas, while Tony Romo passed for 320 yards with a touchdown and an interception in the win.

Team records:
Philadelphia: 1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS
Dallas: 1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS

Philadelphia most recently:
When playing in September are 6-4
When playing on turf are 6-4
After outgaining opponent are 4-6
When playing within the division are 6-4

Dallas most recently:
When playing in September are 8-2
When playing on turf are 7-3
After outgaining opponent are 8-2
When playing within the division are 5-5

A few trends to consider:
Philadelphia is 5-0 ATS in its last 5 games on the road
Philadelphia is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games on the road
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Philadelphia's last 5 games
Philadelphia is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Dallas's last 5 games
Dallas is 14-4 SU in its last 18 games
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Dallas's last 6 games at home
Dallas is 4-2 SU in its last 6 games at home

Next up:
Philadelphia home to Pittsburgh, Sunday, September 21
Dallas at Green Bay, Sunday, September 21

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NFL Preview - Philadelphia (1-0) at Dallas (1-0)
By Tony Moss, NFL Editor

(Sports Network) - It can be said that the best rivalries are those in which both competitors are at top strength. By that measure, Monday night's Texas Stadium battle between the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles should be a classic installment between two hated NFC East foes.

The Cowboys and Eagles both come off dominating Week 1 performances, wins that only fanned the flames of the Super Bowl aspirations for each fan base.

Dallas went to Cleveland and walked away with a decisive 28-10 win last Sunday, over a Browns team many pundits have pegged as a playoff team in 2008.

The Cowboys generated 487 yards of offense in the win, 320 of which came from the right arm of quarterback Tony Romo. Romo was 24-of-32 passing and wasn't sacked all day.

Meanwhile, the Dallas defense limited Cleveland's well-regarded offensive attack to just 205 yards, 11 first downs, and held the Browns out of the end zone for the entire second half.

That said, the Cowboys' performance may have been little more than a reaction to the work the Eagles did in the early timeslot on Sunday afternoon.

Philadelphia made short work of the visiting St. Louis Rams, dismissing them by a 38-3 count and putting together arguably the top offensive and defensive performances of Week 1.

The Eagles got a 361-yard passing day from quarterback Donovan McNabb - with most of those yards coming in the first half - and wideouts DeSean Jackson, Greg Lewis,and Hank Baskett became the first Philadelphia trio in 48 years to post 100 receiving yards apiece in a single game.

Philadelphia's 522 offensive yards were the most in the league as Week 2 began.

On the other side of the ball, Andy Reid's squad allowed just three points, the only team in the NFL that didn't allow its opponent to find the end zone in Week 1.

The victory was the fourth in a row, dating back to last season, for the Eagles. That streak started with a 10-6 upset of eventual NFC top seed Dallas at Texas Stadium last Dec. 16th.

SERIES HISTORY

The Cowboys hold a 52-42 advantage in their all-time regular season series with the Eagles, including an unconventional home-and-home split last season. Dallas was a 38-17 winner in Philadelphia in Week 9, and dropped a 10-6 decision at Texas Stadium in Week 15. The Cowboys are 0-2 in home games against their longtime NFC East rival since a 33-10 win there in 2005.

In addition to their regular season advantage, the Cowboys have a 2-1 edge in the postseason series. The Eagles were 20-7 winners in the 1980 NFC Championship, while Dallas won NFC Divisional Playoff games over Philadelphia following the 1992 and 1995 seasons.

Reid has a career record of 13-5 against the Cowboys. Dallas' Wade Phillips is 2-1 all-time against both Philadelphia and Reid all-time, with the first of those wins coming in the form of a 26-0 rout for Phillips' Bills over the Eagles in 1999.

WHEN THE EAGLES HAVE THE BALL

Though Philadelphia did most of its damage through the air last Sunday, the running game contributed to the offensive fireworks as well. Running back Brian Westbrook carried 19 times for 91 yards and a touchdown in the victory, also catching a TD pass to open the scoring in the first quarter. Fullback Tony Hunt got involved with a third-quarter touchdown, the second of his career. In addition to Jackson (6 receptions, 106 yards), Lewis (5 receptions, 104 yards), and Baskett (2 receptions, 102 yards, 1 TD), McNabb (21-of-33 passing) also hooked up with tight end L.J. Smith (5 receptions, 39 yards, 1 TD) and wideout Jason Avant (3 receptions, 45 yards) on a frequent basis. All of the pass-catchers could see fewer opportunities this week if receiver Reggie Brown (hamstring) is able to make his 2008 debut. The Birds did not allow a sack or commit a turnover in Week 1.

The Cowboys didn't make a lot of huge defensive plays last Sunday, but did a good job of blanketing Cleveland's corps of receivers and keeping the pressure on quarterback Derek Anderson. Outside linebacker Demarcus Ware ranked prominently among the team's defensive stars, coming up with five tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble in the win. Cornerback Adam Jones posted a tackle and a pass deflection in his Cowboys debut, but could see his playing time slashed a bit this week if Terence Newman (groin) is able to make his 2008 debut on Monday. Newman is considered questionable, as is linebacker Anthony Spencer (knee). Along with Jones, first-round Draft choice and cornerback Michael Jenkins (South Florida) is slated to make his Dallas debut on Monday.

WHEN THE COWBOYS HAVE THE BALL

Romo spread the ball around as usual in the Cleveland win, hitting wideouts Terrell Owens (5 receptions, 87 yards, 1 TD) and Patrick Crayton (6 receptions, 82 yards), along with tight end Jason Witten (6 receptions, 96 yards), in almost equal measure. Romo's protection was outstanding as usual, as he was not sacked all day and rarely hurried. The running game complemented the aerial attack with 187 yards, as Marion Barber (16 carries, 80 yards, 2 TD) did his usual downhill running routine and rookie Felix Jones burst on the scene with 62 yards on just nine carries, including an 11-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Barber tore rib cartilage in the win over the Browns, but is expected to play on Monday.

It was an all-around strong effort for the Philadelphia defense in Week 1, as the Eagles held top Rams playmakers Steven Jackson (14 carries, 40 yards) and Torry Holt (1 reception, 9 yards) firmly in check. Keeping pressure on quarterback Marc Bulger was a key to coordinator Jim Johnson's gameplan, and that strategy worked to the tune of four sacks. New middle linebacker Stewart Bradley had one of the sacks, and also recorded a team-high-tying nine tackles. Strong safety Quintin Mikell also experienced a strong day, making nine stops, a sack, and forcing a Bulger fumble. Last Dec. 16th, the Eagles held Romo to a 13-for-36 passing day with three interceptions and four sacks absorbed. Mikell, fellow safety Brian Dawkins, and cornerback Lito Sheppard all had picks in that win.

FANTASY FOCUS

Fantasy mavens who failed to start McNabb last week were kicking themselves, as the veteran had proved his fantasy worth by the end of the first quarter. He and Westbrook remain must-starts. The rookie Jackson is going to get a start in most fantasy leagues, but he'll have a difficult time replicating his Week 1 numbers against a strong Dallas secondary. Same goes for Lewis and Baskett. The Philly defense put together a huge playmaking effort against Dallas last December, but it's probably best not to count on that type of offensive meltdown from the Cowboys again.

The Eagles have shut down the Cowboys offense in the past, but that's not a good enough reason to leave Romo, Owens, or Witten on the bench. Barber is generally a must-start as well, though whether he'll be 100 percent with a painful rib injury remains to be seen. Wait to see Felix Jones' performance this week before you consider him as a flex option. The Dallas defense probably won't generate its highest point total of the year against a strong Philly attack, but kicker Nick Folk remains a decent play.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

The way these two offenses looked last week, it's difficult to imagine anything other than a high-scoring game between two prolific attacks taking place. While both defenses are quality units as well (as evidenced by last December's 10-6 slugfest), there are enough holes on both to promote some scoreboard fireworks on Monday. Will it come down to the last team with the ball? It very well could, and with Romo, Owens, Barber, and Witten making up the crux of the Dallas attack, we like the Cowboys' chances of coming up with those game-breaking fourth-quarter plays.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cowboys 28, Eagles 24

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Re: MNF News and Notes September 15

INDIAN COWBOY'S NFL RESEARCH

Eagles vs. Cowboys


Cowboys play their nemesis in the Eagles today. The spread opened up at -7 and has remained relatively steady as it has gone down slightly as the public are favoring the Cowboys to a tune of 55% today. The Cowboys and Eagles split the season series last year at 1:1 but the most recent game featured Dallas getting beat home by the Eagles in what was a defensive 6-10 battle. The Cowboys were dominant easily covering the 6 point road chalk against Cleveland and give Philly some credit for pounding the Rams by 35 points at home easily covering the 9 point chalk. Frankly, this game could go either way, but note I love the Eagles defense this year as I do the Cowboys. However, I think the Eagles are still more physical, but of course, when it comes to offense the Cowboys have given Romo far more weapons and frankly, the Cowboys running game is much better than it was last year and you will see that throughout this game. In essence, you will see a balanced running and passing attack. However, in an NFC East battle such as this 7 points is quite a lot and I know I normally favor the dog and the over here, but not in this game. McNabb has a QB rating of 130+ here and Romo with over a 106 rating. I actually lean on the Eagles and the Under here but do note that I do not have a play on this game, and will have wnba selections, college and nfl to come later this week. However, in such a rivalry, with the total being 46.5 and the public favoring the over by a 2:1 margin, don't be surprised to see an under shape up here. No play for me, but my free play will be on the under here as the under is 12-2 for the Eagles after scoring 30 points in their previous game and the under is 4-0 for the Cowboys when playing the tough defenses that the NFC East features.

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