Rested Cowboys With Tough Test At Baltimore Ravens

By: Michael Robinson | Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Dallas Cowboys have had almost two weeks to stew about their Monday night debacle versus Chicago. Things don’t get much easier on Sunday at a very tough Baltimore Ravens squad.

The Don Best Pro Odds have Dallas as 3½-point road underdogs with a total of 44½. This is one of the best interconference battles of the week and FOX will broadcast from M&T Bank Stadium at 1:00 p.m. (ET).

The Cowboys are exactly where they should be at 2-2 straight up. They are capable of beating very good teams on the road, witness the 24-17 final as 3½-point ‘dogs at the Giants in Week 1. They’re also capable of laying a giant egg at home with their Monday night loss (34-18 as 3-point favorites) to Chicago last game a prime example.

Dallas is now 0-3 ATS in its last three contests since the Giants opener.

Quarterback Tony Romo threw five picks (two returned for TDs) versus Chicago. They were not all his fault, but he continues to show poor judgment at critical times.  Even owner Jerry Jones, normally the biggest defender of Romo outside of his mother, questioned his ability to take care of the ball.

Coach Jason Garrett’s offense is 30th in the league in scoring (16.3 PPG), which is the main reason the ‘under’ is 3-1. The total yardage numbers (364 YPG, ranked 16th) show there is talent on that side of the ball, but it’s hard to score with constant turnovers and receivers dropping the ball.

Romo should be able to make plays this week against Baltimore pass ‘D’ that ranks just tied-for-22nd (261 YPG). The Dallas running attack has really struggled the last three games with DeMarco Murray, so it will have to be a pass-first attack.

Note the ‘under’ is 2-0 in Dallas’ road games this year and 5-0 in the last five away.

Baltimore (4-1 SU, 2-3 ATS) has the second-best record in the AFC behind Houston and it’s not too early to start thinking about home field advantage throughout the playoffs. For the Ravens, that means winning games even when they’re not playing well.

John Harbaugh’s guys are 0-3 ATS the last three despite winning them all.

One of those ATS failures was a 9-6 win at Kansas City last week as 6-point favorites. Quarterback Joe Flacco (13-of-27 for 187 yards) had his worst outing of the year, but got bailed out by the defense and another big game by Ray Rice (102 rushing yards).

Flacco has been much better in the three home games (106.5 rating) with the team scoring 32.7 PPG. However, it won’t be easy going against this Rob Ryan defense that is fourth in the league in total yards (277.5 YPG).

A look at the Don Best injury report shows that Dallas nose tackle Jay Ratliff (ankle) is probable to play for the first time this season. That should be a big boost to the run defense and outside linebacker Anthony Spencer (shoulder) could also return after missing last game.

These teams don’t meet very often with Baltimore 4-0 SU and ATS the last four dating back to 1994. The most recent one was in 2008 with the Ravens winning 33-24 as 5-point road ‘dogs. That was Flacco’s rookie year and he threw no interceptions while Romo had two.

Dallas fans hope that’s not a bad omen for Romo on Sunday.

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