Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 10:00 AM EST. Odds subject to change.
Dallas -7½ over Green Bay
Best Odds: +111 at Pinnacle
AT&T Stadium, Dallas TX on FOX
4:30 PM EST. The Dallas Cowboys have been at least 7-point favorites all week long as they prepare for their playoff opener, a home game against the Green Bay Packers. Now we could sit here and type nonsense narratives in a pretentious effort to make this article more interesting by bringing up the many soap opera angles that riddle this big NFL contest. Things like: the Packers found yet another great thrower and franchise QB in Jordan Love and Dallas may not be ready for it. Or: Mike McCarthy must be dying for revenge after his Cowboys' lost straight up last season in mid-November at Lambeau Field, against the team and quarterback he led to a Lombardi Trophy in 2010.
The truth is, that's all bullshit. In playoff games, motivation is even. Who the hell doesn't want to win? Who the hell doesn't want to get one step closer to a championship trophy? Postseason matchups are the ultimate test of which team is more talented, which team is better coached, and most of all - which team, particularly its leaders, has more poise. One team has the edge in all these factors, and they're at home, and that's why the spread strongly favors that squad. Period.
On the one hand, it would be easy to simply support the Packers at +7½ because of what we've seen from Jordan Love and their defense in the back half of the season. Love has had some sensational performances in his first campaign as Green Bay's starter, including an absolute explosion in front of a national audience on Thanksgiving, throwing for 268 yards on 8.4 yards per pass, 3 TDs and no INTs in a statement win over this year's NFC North champs. Love and his teammates also put the surging Bears to bed last weekend, cementing a playoff bid and shocking many bettors who eagerly supported Chicago in Week 18. It was Green Bay's 6th win in 8 games, and those are the kinds of wins that can create bias. But if you haven't noticed, oddsmakers are undeterred.
The sportsbooks know that while the Pack are better than expected this year, they're not on the same level as the Cowboys. Excuse me, we mean: they're not on the same level as the Cowboys at home. The 'Boys are not as crisp and very beatable on the road, we've seen that plenty this season, but at home they're 8-0 and score a phenomenal 37.4 points per game. Their opponents are a full 20+ points under that mark, averaging just 15.9 points at AT&T Stadium.
Now, on the one hand, you might be thinking about the Cowboys' opponents at home this year. Yes, that's a fine point. They haven't had the best competition in front of their fans. Aside from beating their division rivals (Commanders, Eagles, Giants), they bested the Jets, Patriots, Rams, Seahawks, and Lions, and the latter two were very close games (they beat Seattle by 6, Detroit by 1). So again, perhaps your thought is: surely the Packers are as good as the Lions, a team they shellacked on Turkey Day, and of course they're as good as the Seahawks, who didn't even make the postseason, right? So then surely, obviously, of course they'll keep this game close, right? RIGHT, Farley?!
We think not. The urgency of the playoffs is an entirely different beast, just ask Dak Prescott. Prescott and his many veteran colleagues have been to these big dances before. The hyper-criticized Cowboys QB has led "America's team" to the postseason on four different occasions, but not once did they exceed the divisional round. Some may look at that as another reason to fade the favorites this Sunday. We love it. We're sure their many bandwagoner-fans are sick of seeing their team eliminated early every year, but there's no chance they're as frustrated as Dak Prescott. The man has been on a mission and has turned into a prime contender for the NFL's MVP because of it. Unsurprisingly, in Dallas is where he does his best work. Prescott has thrown 22 TDs and just 3 INTs this season at home.
If Jordan Love and the Packers' offense are going to keep up with the Cowboys at Jerry's World, it's reasonable to consider that they might have to score on every possession. They'll also need an unbelievable performance against the home-team's offense. Speaking of which, let's calm down about the Green Bay defense, shall we? Their best showings were the last three weeks, but we're not impressed. They limited the Bears, who play like 3rd graders against them, the Vikings with Jaren Hall and Nick Mullens at QB (I just puked a little), and the Carolina Panthers, who own the worst record in the NFL. Slow...Clap...
If Love and Green Bay can score 30+ and limit the Cowboys from scoring 35+, we'll happily eat our words and lose money. We just don't see that happening. Dallas has been a true juggernaut at home this season. Jordan Love and his wide-receivers have had zero-experience in January elimination games, and the atmosphere of AT&T Stadium is among the brightest and biggest in all of sports. Expect the Cowboys to play aggressively and with maximum confidence from the opening kickoff. Some may think it's silly, but we loved seeing Dak Prescott forego the "NFC East Champions" hat when they clinched the division last Sunday. Their leader is focused on bigger goals, and they're facing a team that's not equipped to slow him or his offense down. Good luck keeping up, Pack.
Dallas -7½ +111 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.22)