The ’under’ is 4-1 in the last five Dallas and Washington meetings.
After watching the Dallas Cowboys
stumble, bumble and fumble during the preseason, many of their fans are convinced the sky is falling. Coach Wade Phillips spent a lot of time reassuring those fans that his team's lackluster performance was nothing to be concerned about.
The Cowboys get their chance to prove Phillips' point Sunday night when they travel to FedEx Field to face the new-look Washington Redskins in a nationally televised extravaganza on NBC.
The preseason doesn't matter, but the opener does. Last season, 10 of the 12 teams that reached the playoffs won their opening game.
Tony Romo and the first team offense looked completely out of sync in August. But now it's September and the Cowboys quarterback is 9-2 in the opening month of the season since 2007, his first years as a starter. He has won all three of his season openers.
However, Dallas will be without right tackle Marc Colombo and left guard Kyle Kosier, who are out with injuries. Doug Free is the new starting left tackle, creating a 60 percent turnover in the blocking protection. The last thing the Cowboys want to see is an angry Albert Haynesworth, who can still draw double teams when he gets on a roll.
It's not a stretch to think that Washington owner Daniel Snyder went out and bought the best available coach - two-time Super Bowl champ Mike Shanahan - to beat Dallas. Shanahan will have the ‘Skins ready for the Cowboys. Anyone who has watched him for years knows he is most lethal with months to prepare for an opponent.
With or without a happy Haynesworth the defense -ranked No. 10 in the NFL last year but dead-last in takeaways - will be formidable.
Washington wasn't as bad as last season's 4-12 SU record suggests. The Redskins were involved in seven games decided by three points or less, most of any NFC squad. They were 2-5 in those contests and 2-8 in games decided by eight points or less.
The switch from Jim Zorn to Shanahan and from Jason Campbell to Donovan McNabb could turn around some of those close calls.
McNabb just played and lost to Dallas twice in a row to end his 11-year Philly tenure in Week 17 and the first round of the playoffs last season. Now here they come again.
McNabb never found a great rhythm in training camp and is unlikely to be able to flip the switch against the Cowboys.
Though Washington is improved on both sides of the ball, the club owns the fourth best offense and the fourth best defense in the NFC East.
While Romo had a stellar year in '09 and Miles Austin (1,320 yards) emerged as one of the best receivers in the league, the Cowboys went 11-5 SU largely due to a defense that allowed the fewest points in the NFC (250).
These bitter division rivals combined for just 30 points in their two meeting last season (7-6 and 17-0, both Dallas wins).
The Cowboys have ‘covered' nine of their last dozen in Washington. But they have failed to cash in five of the last seven series clashes and the underdog is 19-7 in the past 26 showdowns.
Shanahan is 12-4 in openers, the most wins among active coaches. However, Washington has failed to ‘cover' 11 of its last 14 at FedEx Field and is 0-3-2 ATS in its last five season lid-lifters.
Four of the last five meetings have ended on the low side and the teams have tipped ‘under' at a 3-0-1 clip in D.C.
Dallas has jumped the number in six of its last seven season openers and at a 9-4-1 clip in September. The Cowboys have strayed ‘under' in five of their past six road encounters.
The Redskins have ducked below the limit in six of seven openers and at a 13-5-1 pace during the first month of the season.
Most offshore books monitored by the Don Best odds product opened Dallas as a three-point favorite, with the ‘total' set at 43 ½.