Dec 18, 2019
Dec 18, 2019

NFL Week 16 preview: Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles

NFL Week 16 predictions

How are things shaping up in the NFL?

Key Cowboys and Eagles stats

Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles: Where is the value?

NFL Week 16 preview: Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles

With just two weeks left in the NFL regular season, the Dallas Cowboys travel to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 16 with a playoff spot on the line. Looking for value in the NFL Week 16 odds? Read on to inform your predictions.

How are things shaping up in the NFL?

All but four of the twelve playoff positions have been settled following Week 15 in the NFL. Baltimore and Kansas City secured the AFC North and West divisional titles respectively, while the NFC South pennant is returning to New Orleans.

No team has secured a bye in the opening wildcard weekend yet, although Baltimore are a near certainty, and New England are also very well placed on to sit out the first round of the post season.

The vast majority of the eight current divisional leaders have a winning record, with the sole exception of the NFC East where Dallas’ 7-7 record leads the way from the Philadelphia Eagles, who have the same .500 record.

Traditionally the NFC East is a competitive division, but neither the New York Giants nor Washington Redskins have performed well in 2019 and the four divisional rivals have mustered just 20 combined wins between them.

Whichever teams carries the NFC East colours into the post season will do so with a rare losing out of division record, further highlighting the NFC East’s lack of quality during this campaign.

Mixed fortunes for both teams

Dallas have struggled against teams with a winning record this season. LA Rams, who they beat comprehensively last week, are the only team they have defeated who are currently exceeding a .500 win/loss record.

Five of their seven victories have come against teams who have each gained just three season wins to date, although they did also defeat Philadelphia, which is the tie breaker that separates them at the top of the division.

Dallas have a Pythagorean win expectation that is more akin to a double digit winning regular season side.

Philadelphia can boast two impressive road wins at Green Bay and Buffalo, but they have failed to earn consecutive victories at any point this season and notably lost to both Miami and Detroit, two of the NFL’s poorest-performing teams.

A win for Dallas would secure the division for Sunday’s visitors, whereas a victory for the hosting Eagles would only put them in the box seat to win the title. They would have approximately an 80% chance of reaching the playoffs entering the all-divisional matchup round of matches in Week 17.

Points-based comparisons

At this late stage of the season, a large body of statistical performance indicators has been accumulated for both teams. In the case of divisional rivals such as Dallas and Philadelphia, the issues of comparing teams who have faced schedules of uneven difficulty is also greatly diluted.

The Eagles and the Cowboys have already played each other this season (with Dallas winning easily by 37-10) and they have also played ten common opponents. Therefore, even relatively simple metrics can be used to compare the underlying talent levels of the two rivals.

Neither Dallas nor Philadelphia have enjoyed a favourable turnover record; the former has one more turnover than takeaway and the latter six more net giveaways. The Eagles have also recorded four narrow wins and six narrow losses, compared to Dallas, who won by more than eight points in all but one of their victories, whilst losing by eight points or fewer in five of their seven defeats.

This points-based imbalance indicates that Dallas are the stronger team, as further reflected by their points differential. They have comprehensively defeated the struggling sides they have beaten (including Philadelphia in Dallas) and scored 90 more points than they’ve conceded.

Indeed, Dallas have a Pythagorean win expectation that is more akin to a double digit winning regular season side, whereas Philadelphia have only scored six more points than they’ve allowed, which is typical of a .500 winning team.

Offensive and defensive performances

The implication that Dallas are the superior team is enhanced when studying the two teams’ respective offensive and defensive efficiencies. The Cowboys have been extremely efficient both on the ground and through the air, gaining half a yard more per rushing attempt and over a full yard per attempt more via the aerial route.

This has been translated into points on the board and they have scored an average of 27 points per game and ranked in the top four offensive teams, with quarterback Dak Prescott also amongst the year’s top performers.

Dallas are the more accomplished side, whereas the injury-ravaged Philadelphia have performed to a mediocre standard.

By comparison, the Eagles have scored three points fewer per game, partially because injuries have disrupted Carson Wentz’ receiving targets, meaning their passing efficiency is languishing around the NFL’s mid-table teams. The ground game is similarly mediocre, contributing to Philadelphia’s lacklustre offensive displays.

Neither team has an impressive defensive unit. Philadelphia just edge this matchup, as they boast an above-average rushing defence but are sub-par against the pass. Dallas’ pass defence and rush defense are both below average for the NFL.

Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles: Where is the value?

This is virtually an elimination game in all but name. Dallas are the more accomplished side, whereas the injury-ravaged Philadelphia have performed to a mediocre standard.

The visiting Cowboys are taken to secure their post season pass, which will allow them to rest starters in Week 17. However, their expected margin of victory is just three points - only half a point above the current start given to the hosts.

The needy but more talented visitors have delivered in recent weeks and Dallas to cover the current -2.5 points spread in a game with 47 total points is suggested.

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