Dallas Cowboys @ Jacksonville Jaguars: Cowboys to make lightning start at Wembley

Catch me while you can: Don't bank on Tony Romo playing the full game on Sunday
Catch me while you can: Don't bank on Tony Romo playing the full game on Sunday

It's time for the third and final installment of this season's NFL games at Wembley and it promises to be the most exciting yet from a betting perspective. That's according to our analyst Neil Harvey, who's come up with no less than nine separate bets he thinks can help you end up on the winning side...

"Murray is in the form of his life and is capable of ripping bus-sized holes through Jacksonville's 24th ranked defensive line. Expect the Cowboys to give him a lot of early carries, so pitting their biggest strength against the Jag's biggest weakness."

Dallas (-3.5) to win half time handicap @ 1.865/6 or better

Dallas Cowboys @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Sunday November 9th, 18:00
Live On Sky Sports 2 and Channel 4

This really isn't a game to be late for, with the first half likely to see Dallas at their explosive best. The second half though could be quite a different story.

A couple of weeks ago, the Dallas Cowboys looked all but sure things to make the play-offs. And not just that, but to go into them as one of the favourites. One injury and two games later though and suddenly the (6-3) Cowboys aren't looking quite so good.

The back injury suffered by quarterback Tony Romo clearly wasn't that serious. After all, he returned to finish the game in that loss to Washington. Last week though, he was rested. And boy did Dallas miss him. In fact, the only positive the Cowboys probably took from their loss to Arizona, was learning that Romo's stand-in, Brandon Weedon, is completely out of his depth - so much so that even talented receivers like Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams couldn't save him.

If there was ever any doubt as to how long Dallas can afford to rest Romo, the answer is 'not long'.

Romo practiced in London on Thursday and now looks a confident start for Wembley. But I just can't see the Cowboys keeping their top QB in for the whole game. He's just too valuable to their hopes for the entire season to take that kind of risk. So head coach Jason Garrett's plan must surely be to win this game as early as possible and then bench his gunslinger for Weedon.

Should Romo's injury flare-up at any point, then he could get pulled even sooner. And throw in the fact that, on average, the Cowboys' passing attack ranks only 18th in the NFL, then this all points to a sell of Romo's expected passing yards.

And the Dallas quarterback might not be the only star name in line for an early bath. Running back DeMarco Murray has been the driving force of the Dallas offense, rushing for more than a hundred yards in each of the first eight games of the season. But that golden run was ended last week. And the Cowboys will now be feeling extremely protective of a player who has a history of injury problems and has been single-handedly carrying Dallas to victory.

Murray is in the form of his life and is capable of ripping bus-sized holes through Jacksonville's 24th ranked defensive line. Expect the Cowboys to give him a lot of early carries, so pitting their biggest strength against the Jag's biggest weakness. But if the Cowboys as expected romp into a healthy lead, then he too could make way, with Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar ready to step-in when the time comes.

That's exactly what Dunbar did that last week, quickly amassing more than 60 yards in just a few minutes of garbage time. And with much more time on the field a strong possibility here, his upside could be huge. There's no doubt - Murray is the main man, looks a good bet to score, and should do so early. Just don't be surprised if he doesn't stick around long enough to net another 100 yards. 

And it's at this point, amazing as it seems, that it could be worth siding with the (1-8) Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags aren't good, it's true.  In fact they're pretty bad, especially at stopping the run. But they do have their moments. Such as their surprise 24-6 win over Cleveland. And they do seem to be improving as the season goes on.

They stayed in touch with good sides in their last two games, losing by 14 points to Miami and 10 to Cincinnati. And despite their troubles against the run, the Jaguars' have still managed to limit their opponents' scoring - giving up 20 points or more in only two of their last five games

Jacksonville will lean heavily on running back Denard Robinson, who looks a step-up from any of his recent predecessors. But he'll only get the ball while the game remains close. If the gap gets big, then it'll be over to quarterback Blake Bortles to start chancing his arm, just as he did last week against the Bengals.

The rookie is still adapting to life in the NFL, but has shown enough to keep the starting job thus far, passing 200 yards on four of his seven outings. And he's sure to keep pumping his arm right to the bitter end, which is where Jacksonville could do their best work.

Last week Bortles connected with receiver Allen Hurns for a fourth quarter touchdown. The week before that, it was with Allen Robinson. It's Hurns though, with five of Jacksonville's 11 receiving TDs for the season, who gets my nod to notch this week's late score, against what's likely to be a fairly complicit Dallas defense by that stage.


Recommended Bets

Dallas (-3.5) to win half time handicap @ 1.865/6 or better
Jacksonville (+9) to win full time handicap @ 1.705/7 or better
1st scoring play to be Dallas touchdown @ 2.305/4 or better
DeMarco Murray to score first touchdown @ 5.509/2or better
Highest scoring half to be first half @ 1.9110/11 or better
DeMarco Murray rushing yards to be less than 115.5 @ 1.9110/11 or better
Tony Romo passing yards to be less than 260.5 @ 1.9110/11 or better
Allen Hurns to score anytime touchdown @ 3.259/4  (Sportsbook)
Allen Hurns to score last touchdown @ 17.016/1  (Sportsbook)


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