VSiN’s analytics-based football handicapper takes a look at Sunday’s matchups for the Giants’ NFC East rivals.
San Francisco 49ers at Dallas Cowboys: Andy Dalton continues his Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde season, coming off an impressive win over the Bengals. We have enough data now to conclude that his success or futility is largely driven by how much pressure the opposing defense can generate — which is bad news for Week 15, as he draws a 49ers team that is coordinated by Robert Saleh, a master of crafting unique ways to pressure the quarterback.
A significant mismatch exists on the other side of the football, as well. The Cowboys are one of the most poorly coordinated defenses in the league, and consistently miss basic assignments and exhibit lackluster tackling. San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan is likely to develop a game plan that will exploit these weaknesses, especially in the run game, which could create a lopsided affair where San Francisco dominates time of possession and forces Dallas into obvious passing situations for Saleh to take advantage of. Fair price should be a little greater than 4.5 by my numbers, so the 49ers are the play on the side in this contest. Pick: 49ers -3.
Seattle Seahawks at Washington Football Team: The four-game win streak by Washington has warped the perception of this squad beyond fair valuation as it heads into its most difficult offensive test of the last two months. The recent schedule has afforded Washington’s talented defense the ability to dictate game states and hang around long enough to eke out wins. This will not be enough against a Seahawks offense that has been scoring at an efficient clip, particularly through the air, which matches up well against Washington’s weak secondary.
Russell Wilson is a master at avoiding the heavy pressure and letting plays mature down the field, a recipe that will hurt a Washington team that relies so heavily on generating pressure and creating disruptive sacks. The Seattle defense has also benefited from playing poor offenses in the last month, but the quarterback situation for Washington is dire with Dwayne Haskins getting the start. Fair price is more than 7 points by my numbers, so the Seahawks are a play. Pick: Seahawks -6.5.
Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals: The Eagles come in hot having upset the Saints in Week 14 on the back of a solid performance by Jalen Hurts, who at a minimum represents a meaningful upgrade over Carson Wentz given the infrequency with which he commits turnovers and how his mobility can help sustain offense. Kyler Murray and the Cardinals also come in off a big road win having throttled the Giants in Week 14 in all three phases of the game.
Lost in the excitement over the Eagles win was another cluster injury for the team, this time at the cornerback position. Starting CB Avonte Maddox and S Rodney McLeod were both added to injured reserve this week and the other starting CB, Darius Slay, remains in the concussion protocol and may not be available. Replacement-level players will be tasked with coverage on DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk, which spells disaster for Philadelphia and will force a game plan that is aggressive and focused on scoring to help keep pace.
This sets up as a true shootout and the Over is in play. Fair total should be 51 by my numbers with the potential to go even higher with the right game state. Pick: Over 49.5