Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys
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This is a huge game in the context of the NFC East, with hosts Dallas (2-5) really needing to win if they're to remain in contention for the play-offs, while Philadelphia (3-4) are only marginally better off.
The sides met back in Week Two, with Dallas springing a 20-10 surprise win in Philly, in the game where Tony Romo bust his collar bone. But while that moment has been devastating for the Cowboys' season, it didn't hurt them on that particular day, and it might not hurt them here.
And that's because the Dallas running game is strong enough to win this one on its own. The Cowboys rank sixth in the NFL for rushing. And that figure should be higher, given it's based largely on the efforts of Joseph Randle, who's since been replaced by the much more effective Darren McFadden.
The former Raiders favourite has proved his ability as a three-down back and is showing just how good that Dallas offensive line is - the same line which made DeMarco Murray look superhuman last year. McFadden should see a lot of carries here and he could run for 100 yards through sheer bulk of possession alone. But while his efforts have translated into distance (over 200 yards in two games as starter), they've so far only resulted in one touchdown.
Once in the red zone, it seems more likely the Cowboys will turn to the mediocre Matt Cassel to come up with the points. He connected with receiver Devin Street from 25 yards out for a score two weeks ago. And he's had a significant upgrade, with the beast that is Des Bryant now available to him. Bryant was blunted by the miserly Seahawks last week, in a game where he was merely being eased back. But this time Des will be good to go, and should be the key target for Cassel in the endzone.
Philadelphia face the same problem they did in Week Two, namely how to overcome what's proving to be a fairly effective Dallas defense? Back then, Sam Bradford had a tough time at QB, intercepted twice and fumbling once. And that Cowboys defense has only improved since. The return of Rolando McClain and Greg Hardy has been significant, with Hardy proving his importance with an interception in last week's defensively impressive 13-12 loss to Seattle.
The Cowboys limited Marshawn Lynch to just 71 yards in that game and can do a similar number on DeMarco Murray, who's averaging just 50 yards and has just three scores though six games for the Eagles - not numbers to inspire anyone to put money on him.
Sam Bradford has been exposed by good defenses, case in point being last week's loss to Carolina, where he threw one pick and no touchdowns. The only upside to emerge from that game was the performance of Ryan Matthews, who did enough to warrant taking some carries away from Murray this week, further dampening his expectations.
With Dallas likely to focus on the running game, that should eat up a lot of clock. And like last time these sides met, the kickers could be busy with Dan Bailey my fancy to once again open the scoring for the Cowboys in a contest where touchdowns could be hard to come by given the shortcomings of both quarterbacks. Considering what's at stake, neither side is likely to be taking any risks. And for me that makes the total points quote of 44.5 look far too high.
2pts Total Points Under 44.5 @ 1.9210/11
2pts Dallas(+3) to beat Philadelphia @ 1.981/1
Dallas to beat Philadelphia @ 2.427/5
First scoring play to be Dallas field goal @ 6.005/1
First/anytime touchdown scorer to be Des Bryant @ 9.4017/2
Chicago Bears @ San Diego Chargers
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What a mess of a game this is between two teams in dire straits, with the season hopes of both Chicago (2-5) and San Diego (2-6) hanging by the thinnest of threads.
Both are also reeling from recent injury problems to big name stars. The Bears have lost their one-man-band, rush-catch dynamo Matt Forte for an undetermined period of time to a knee injury. Whatever hopes they had of making the play-offs left along with Forte, who's accounted for more than 30% of Chicago's scrimmage yards this season.
The Bolts, meanwhile, have been left shocked by the loss of leading receiver Keenan Allen, out for the season with a lacerated kidney, suffered while making a stupendous touchdown catch last week. Allen has accounted for more than 20% of San Diego's scrimmage yards and will be sorely missed.
The key difference though looks to be the amount of strength in depth. The Chargers have two proven, experienced receivers who can come in for Allen, with Malcolm Floyd and Stevie Johnson both capable of putting up big numbers at this level. Chicago though are having to turn to rookie runner Jeremy Langford, a fourth round pick who's averaged under three yards a pop with his 27 carries this season. Inexperienced and totally unproven, Langford has only a Hail Mary chance of filling Forte's sizeable shoes.
The Chargers can maintain the high production level of their offense, which ranks first in the NFL. Their running game is as poor as the man leading it, Melvin Gordon. But the Chargers pass-offense has been ace, and that's been almost entirely down to the performances of Philip Rivers.
The Bolts quarterback has been white hot this season, throwing for 2,753 yards. His streak of five straight games with more than 300 yards and two touchdowns in each, is simply phenomenal. And yet, somehow the Chargers keep managing to lose. How? Well that's likely down to having the league's 27th worst run defense. You could argue though, that in the form of Langdon, the Bolts will face their easiest contest of this year.
San Diego's 13th ranked pass defense will be focused almost entirely on Bears receiver Alshon Jeffrey, who's averaged more than 100 yards and caught two TDs in his three games back from injury. Jeffrey is the one quality performer the Bears have and sheer volume of targets should see him post some decent yardage. Beyond him though, Bears QB Jay Cutler is limited in his receiving options.
By contrast, Rivers is spoiled for choice. Tight end Antonio Gates is a huge physical presence. And that makes him an ideal end zone target. Gates can grab his third TD in just four games, by scoring here. And even running back Danny Woodhead poses arguably more of a catching threat than many of the Bears wideouts.
San Diego are far from being my favourite team. And I'm no fan of Rivers. But the Bolts seem to hold all the aces here. And while I'd like to root for the Bears, I suspect they're in for a season-ending mauling. Hence, I'll be dutching some winning margins selections, which could yield a bumper return if Rivers' hot streak continues.
2pts San Diego (-4) to beat Chicago @ 1.9420/21
2pts San Diego to win H/T and F/T @ 2.001/1
Antonio Gates to score first/anytime touchdown @ 8.07/1 (Sportsbook)
Danny Woodhead to score first/anytime touchdown @ 10.09/1 (Sportsbook)
San Diego to win by 19-24 pts @ 12.011/1
San Diego to win by 25-30 pts @ 21.020/1