The Falcons have worked their way to a 4-4 mark following their stirring, come-from-behind win over the NFC South rival New Orleans Saints in Week 9. Playing without Calvin Ridley once again, Matt Ryan turned to a diverse group of pass catchers that included hybrid star Cordarrelle Patterson and third wideout Olamide Zacchaeus to put together a stellar 343-yard, two-touchdown effort.
Atlanta’s defense was notably less effective in slowing down journeyman quarterback Trevor Siemian, who nearly led the Saints to victory with a solid 249-yard, two-touchdown day of his own. The Falcons now face a much stiffer test in Dak Prescott, who’ll undoubtedly have some extra incentive to bounce back from a forgettable Week 9 loss to the Broncos.
That defeat saw Prescott compile just 75 first-half yards and finish with a sub-50 percent completion rate for the first time all season. The star signal-caller also threw an interception for a third straight game, although since he played all four quarters, he still managed to extend his multi-touchdown streak to five contests in garbage time.
Both Dallas’ pass and run defense exhibited some concerning play in the defeat. Teddy Bridgewater, Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon combined for 440 total yards and two touchdowns. Dallas now ranks in the bottom half of the league with 380 total yards per home game allowed, prompting at least some concern when factoring in how increasingly proficient the Falcons are becoming in first-year head coach Arthur Smith‘s system.
Please note that all odds are current as of 11 AM EST on Friday, November 12.
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Falcons vs Cowboys Prediction
The Falcons scored a meager six points in their season opener against the Eagles, about the worst possible debut for Arthur Smith and his offensive scheme in Atlanta. However, Ryan and his teammates have progressively improved their command of the system, and the Falcons have gone on to score 25 or more points in five of their subsequent seven games.
That’s held true even in two of their contests without Ridley, as Patterson and rookie tight end Kyle Pitts have especially stepped up with spectacular performances at different points to keep the Falcons competitive.
However, the Cowboys’ defense, despite its unusually poor play Sunday against Denver, has been a generally stout unit. Dallas has allowed an elevated 270.5 passing yards per game, but just 203.0 per contest over its last three. It’s also ranked in the top half of the league with 20.1 first downs (19.8 at home) allowed per contest.
Moreover, the ‘Boys have 11 picks and average 2 sacks per game, so quarterbacks have had their share of trials and tribulations against them. Their work against ground attacks has been even more consistent — the Cowboys give up the 10th-fewest rushing yards per game (101.0).
The Falcons, on paper, would appear to have the ability to slow down the Ezekiel Elliott/Tony Pollard combo, considering they’ve given up just 97.4 rushing yards per road contest. Atlanta also ranks near the top of the league with a modest 9% explosive run play rate allowed.
However, if the Cowboys can get left tackle Tyron Smith back from his ankle injury Sunday, they boast a line that’s essentially been matchup-proof when it comes to clearing out running lanes. Dallas tops the NFL with 5.2 adjusted line yards per carry facilitated, and tops the NFC with 5.1 RB yards per rush, as well.
What I see putting Dallas over the top in a relatively high-scoring contest is their air attack. Prescott and his talented group of pass catchers will undoubtedly be highly motivated to put last week’s debacle behind them.
The Falcons are allowing a robust 67.8 percent completion rate on the road and Prescott had completed over 70.0 percent of his throws in four of his six games prior to the outlier against the Broncos. The Cowboys also rank fourth with 291.5 passing yards per game, average an NFL-high 12.1 yards per completion at home and rank fifth in explosive pass play rate (11.0 percent) overall.
I see a dogfight here for three-plus quarters that culminates in a late Prescott TD for the seven-point win.
Prediction: Cowboys 30, Falcons 23
Falcons vs Cowboys Best Bets
Best Bet: Falcons +9 (-112) at TwinSpires
As outlined in the game prediction, I see a relatively close game here between these two squads with Dallas prevailing in the high-scoring contest by a touchdown.
The Falcons are actually undefeated in their last three road contests, while their last two defeats have been by four and six points. Their last six games overall have been decided by margins of 3, 4, 7, 2, 6 and 2 points.
Given Atlanta’s propensity for playing competitively and the fact three of Dallas’ last four wins have been by eight points or less, I’m in the camp of the Falcons covering as our NFL pick of the day.
Best Bet: Under 55 Total Points (-112) at TwinSpires
There should be points scored here on both sides as I outlined earlier. Each secondary can give up its share of plays, and Atlanta has a diverse enough running back tandem in Patterson and Mike Davis to facilitate the short pass, effectively substituting for the run in many instances.
Nevertheless, this is a particularly high number that I’m going to predict the two squads fall just short of.
From a recent trend perspective, it’s worth noting five of eight Falcons’ games this season, including three of the last four, have finished under this figure. Each of the Cowboys’ last two contests has as well.