The point spread for Saturday’s Cowboys-Eagles game swung significantly in Dallas’ direction upon news of the teams’ potential different approaches to Week 18.
Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said Monday he plans on playing his starters Saturday night in Philadelphia, and since the Eagles’ Nick Sirianni has not made the same commitment, the betting line jumped on oddsboards to Dallas -7. BetMGM joined the rest of the betting market Tuesday, adjusting from -6.5 to -7.
The Cowboys were as cheap as -1.5 when betting opened Sunday night and then priced in the range of -3 to -3.5 by Monday morning. The line crept up from there, eventually landing on Dallas laying a touchdown.
The final week of any NFL season is challenging for oddsmakers to price. With playoff spots clinched and other teams eliminated from contention, there’s always uncertainty as to which players coaches will elect to start.
Cowboys’ Playoff Scenarios
While the Cowboys head into Week 18 as the No. 4 seed in the NFC, they could improve that position – and this seeding may matter. The No. 4 seed would mean traveling to Green Bay to face the Packers in the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs; securing the No. 2 seed would mean hosting a game in the second weekend of the playoffs.
“We’re going to line up to do what we need to do to win the game,” McCarthy said Monday, per a tweet from Joe Machota.
For the Cowboys to move from No. 4 to No. 3, they need to win and for the Cardinals (vs. Seattle) and Rams (vs. 49ers) to lose. Less likely, for the No. 2 seed, all that has to happen, and the Bucs would have to lose at home to the Panthers.
McCarthy suggested the experience of playing in wintry elements also factors in his decision.
“I think playing up there in the weather in Philadelphia will serve us well,” the coach said.
Eagles A Wild-Card
Sirianni, meanwhile, told WIP radio he and his staff will decide later in the week whether to rest the Eagles starters. Locked into a wild-card spot, though, they seem to have less incentive than Dallas.
Nevertheless, should Philly’s coach announce the starters will play, expect this point spread to bounce back toward the home team.
Bettors, though, should tread lightly. We don’t know exactly what either coach is thinking. Even if the starters do go, do they play the entire game or are they benched by halftime in preparation for the playoffs?