Get with the home teams in the final two games of NFL Week 8, as Neil Harvey explains why Dallas and Chicago have everything going for them...
¨Philly haven´t faced any of the league´s top running backs. And yet they were gashed for 135 yards by Washington´s Matt Jones two weeks ago. So how on Earth will they stop Ezekiel Elliott?¨
Philadelphia Eagles@ Dallas Cowboys
Dallas (5-1) have been outstanding this year. So much so that it´s hard to believe their one loss came to the New York Giants, and that it was at home. Strange things can happen in Week One though and since then the Cowboys have powered forward, carried largely by the performances of a couple of rookies. Ezekiel Elliott has rushed for five TDs and 5.1 yards per carry. While QB Dak Prescott has been way better than anyone could have anticipated, throwing seven touchdowns and just one pick.
The key man, have no doubts though, is Elliott. If he stays fit, he could come close to 2000 yards this season. That´s a big IF though, given the huge number of touches he´s been getting. But in the meantime he continues to make hay behind the Cowboys strong offensive line and looks set for another big day against the Eagles. Philly´s 4.7 yards allowed per carry is poor. And the fact they´ve only forced one fumble all year suggests they´ll be unable to put pressure on or contain Elliot, who for me looks certain to post 100+ yards for the fifth game in a row.
Dallas will rumble through the Philly D-line with ease. Again and again. And Elliot should get a score to boot. Prescott will sprinkle in a few passes just to keep the Eagles honest. And we could see a big game from Dez Bryant, who´s returning from three games out injured and who´s been sounding ebullient in the build up to this one. Watch out Eagles! This could be the Bryant break out game.
Philadelphia (4-2) have been a mixed bag this season, stunning Pittsburgh and Minnesota along the way - two big name scalps. But both those wins came at home. On the road, the Eagles have been considerably less impressive, losing to both Washington and Detroit. Philly haven´t faced any of the league´s top running backs. And yet they were gashed for 135 yards by Washington´s Matt Jones two weeks ago. So how on Earth will they stop Ezekiel Elliott?
Dallas have racked up double digit wins against the Redskins and Packers and I fancy they´ll do the same here, with ease.
7pts Dallas (-4.5) to beat Philadelphia @ 1.9620/21
5pts Dallas to win at Half Time & Full Time @ 1.9620/21
1pt Ezekiel Elliot to score 1st touchdown @ [6/1] (Sportsbook)
3pts Dez Bryant to score anytime touchdown @ [6/5] (Sportsbook)
3pts Dez Bryant to have more than 66 receiving yards @ [5/6] (Sportsbook)
5pts Ezekiel Elliot rushing yards to be over 109 @ [5/6] (Sportsbook)
Minnesota Vikings @ Chicago Bears
With a (1-6) record, it's easy to say that the Chicago Bears are a poor team. But it´s so much more than that. It´s the quality of side they've been losing to. I mean they lost at home to Jacksonville. It´s that bad. They even lost badly to a Green Bay team that´s been limping along impotently...until they got the chance to feast on the Bears.
Minnesota (5-1) come into this off the back of a humbling defeat of their own. Philadelphia beat them by putting huge pressure on Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford, sacking him six times and forcing three turnovers. Another problem for Bradford is his lack of top receivers, with only Stefon Diggs a dangerous option. And that allows opponents to focus on stopping a Minnesota running game that lies in tatters. First it was Adrian Peterson who got injured. And now they´re missing his replacement Jerick McKinnon. That leaves the one pace Matt Asiata to lead the charge. And quite frankly it´s just not good enough.
Chicago will aim to lock down the run and force Bradford to go aerial. But he may well struggle. And I can´t believe I´m saying this - but that means the Bears have a chance. After all, they´re at home. And crucially, they have their top quarterback, Jay Cutler, back from injury. But perhaps most importantly, their opponents look vulnerable.
I love Minnesota. Their defense is brilliant and will be all over Cutler and co like a rash. But their offense looks weak at the moment. Also Soldier Field is one of the more intimidating NFL venues to play at. And while Chicago´s secondary is vulnerable to the deep ball, that´s a threat the Vikings don´t really possess. If the Bears D performs at its best, it´s good enough to keep Minnesota´s offense subdued.
Even when they were down to their third choice quarterback last week, Chicago still looked like they might snag the win for a while against Green Bay. Jay Cutler´s return makes the Bears much stronger and I feel they´re catching the Vikings at a low point. Both offenses should struggle here. And a low score should mean a close game. So yes, at a big price, and I still can´t believe I´m saying it, but I´m going for the Bears!
5pts Chicago to beat Minnesota @ 2.87
3pts Matt Asiata rushing yards to be Under 74.5 @ [5/6] (Sportsbook)
5pts Total Points to be Under 41.5 @ [10/11] (Sportsbook)
Staked: 176 pts
Returned: 250 pts
P/L: +74 pts