Cowboys, Struggling as Big Home Favorites, Host Bears on Sunday night

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While Jay Cutler’s thumb injury might boost the Dallas Cowboys’ chances of defeating the Chicago Bears, Dallas brings a negative against-the-spread trend into the Sunday Night Football betting matchup.

The Cowboys are listed as seven-point favorites with a total of 44.5 at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The Cowboys are 9-1 straight-up but 1-9 against the spread in their last 10 home games where they were favored by 6.5 or more points, according to the OddsShark NFL Database. The visiting team is 4-1 SU and ATS in its last five games in this matchup.

The Bears are 6-2 ATS in their last eight road games. Cutler (sprained thumb) is not practicing, and if he’s down, the Bears will turn to backup QB Brian Hoyer.

Chicago’s offense is ranked 31st of 32 NFL teams after two weeks. Chicago’s primary WR Alshon Jeffery (knee) could be affected by injury, but WR Kevin White is an emerging talent. Running back Jeremy Langford and his blockers might be able to have some positive results against a Dallas defense which is allowing 4.8 yards per attempt.

Dallas, which is coming off a Week 2 victory against the Washington Redskins, is 5-2 SU in its last seven games after winning as an underdog. Rookie QB Dak Prescott has been serviceable while throwing mostly to slot WR Cole Beasley and TE Jason Witten, who has a favorable matchup. Outside WR Dez Bryant could also feast against journeyman CB Tracy Porter.

The Bears have two big-name defenders in ILB Jerrell Freeman and ILB Danny Trevathan, but have struggled to contain the running game so far this season. Dallas rookie RB Ezekiel Elliott will have the opportunity to shine in the Sunday Night Football matchup.

Chicago lost their first road game against the Houston Texans in Week 1. The total has gone under in four of the Bears’ last five games on the road after a loss on the road.

WATCH: Seahawks’ Paul Richardson pulls in absurd touchdown catch against Lions

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It took until the first round of the playoffs, but we may finally have our winner for catch of the year.

On 4th and goal at the Lions’ 2, Russell Wilson lobbed up a pass to Paul Richardson, who was completely covered by Tavon Wilson.

Richardson stuck out his left hand and pulled in a miraculous grab to give Seattle the lead.

[Watch the rest of the second half from Seattle on NBC Sports Live]

Simply amazing.

 

Seahawks, Texans are the betting favorites for Saturday’s Wild Card games

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The Seattle Seahawks’ sporadic scoring output is something to consider when looking at the big point spread against the Detroit Lions. The Seahawks are listed as eight-point favorites against the Lions in their NFC wild card matchup set for Saturday at CenturyLink Field, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Seahawks are 7-0 straight-up in their last seven home games against teams from the Eastern Time Zone and the Lions are 2-5 against the spread in their last seven road games. However, Seattle scored 10 or fewer points four times at home this season, and none of those instances came against a premier defense.

The Lions, 9-7 SU and 8-8 ATS, are coming into the playoffs on a three-loss skid. One boon to the Lions’ chances is that the Seahawks, without free safety Earl Thomas, have been hopeless at stopping deep passes. Quarterback Matthew Stafford should be able to hit a few deep shots to the likes of Golden Tate, Marvin Jones and T.J. Jones in order to compensate for a nearly nonexistent running game. That could help the Lions, who are 0-8 SU in their last eight playoff games, make it interesting.

The Seahawks, 10-5-1 SU and 7-8-1 ATS, have never lost at home in the playoffs during the Pete Carroll/Russell Wilson era. One can reasonably expect they will find some of their familiar postseason form. Seattle’s pass protection and run blocking has been problematic, so there could be opportunities to disrupt Wilson’s timing. Otherwise, WR Doug Baldwin and TE Jimmy Graham could have big nights.

The total has gone under in eight of the Lions’ last 10 games. The total has gone over in five of the Seahawks’ last six games in the playoffs.

Elsewhere, the Houston Texans are listed as four-point favorites against the Oakland Raiders in Saturday’s AFC wild card matchup.

The Raiders, 12-4 SU and 10-6 ATS, will have rookie third-stringer Connor Cook become the first NFL QB to get his first career start in the playoffs. With Cook playing instead of Derek Carr (broken fibula), Houston might not have to honor the deep pass threat and can thus commit to containing RB Latavius Murray and limiting the damage on short-range passes to WR Amari Cooper and WR Michael Crabtree.

The fact erratic Brock Osweiler is back in at QB might account for why the Texans, who are 9-7 SU and 6-9-1 ATS, are not a bigger favorite against a hobbled team. The Raiders simply haven’t stopped anyone when teams have schemed to slow down edge rushers Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin. If Osweiler can curb his tendency to be overaggressive and allow WR DeAndre Hopkins and RB Lamar Miller to have opportunities, the Texans should be able to move the ball steadily.

Keep in mind, though, that the visiting team has gone 4-0 SU and ATS in the last four editions of this matchup. The total has gone over in seven of the Raiders’ last 10 games.  The total has gone under in nine of the Texans’ last 12 games at home.