Tony Romo is a lot of things to a lot of different people, but more than anything he’s a guy that shrivels when his team needs him the most. It’s fun to pick on him because he looks like a dweeb and his lone career playoff win stands out as a stain on his reputation. To be fair, Matt Ryan has one playoff win as well, and the odd thing – to me at least – is that people defend Ryan because he puts up gaudy numbers.
You know what? So does Romo! Listen, very few people can claim to have heaped as much hate as I have on a Dallas’s incumbent quarterback. But this year in particular, Romo and the Cowboys are having a great season. Romo is yet again on track to break the 4,000 yards passing plateau which would be the fifth time he’s done so in seven full seasons (he missed ten games in 2010 due to injury). With 20 touchdowns and just 6 interceptions, he’s simply one of the better quarterbacks out there. This is arguably his best season.
Still, when Tony Romo is the face of your franchise, people are going to turn their backs on you. But gamblers sometimes have to look past reputations because numbers speak the truth. At 7-2 ATS, Dallas is the best cover team in the NFL. They’re also 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games against NFC opponents and 5-1 ATS when playing teams with winning records. They’re coming off a tough game against Minnesota, but the Vikings also played their best game of the season in that matchup. You have to give Romo credit for leading a game winning drive while throwing 337 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception.
Defending Romo isn’t a labor of love for me. I’m glad I don’t cheer for the Cowboys for a lot of reasons, and Romo is undoubtedly one of them. But it’s also silly to constantly hound a guy for coming up short in the playoffs when he does great things during the regular season. Against Kansas City – one of the best defenses in the league – he threw for 298 yards and a touchdown. Nobody has thrown for more yards against Kansas City this year. He’s also posted a 506 yard, 5 touchdown game in a dogfight against Denver. The guy has talent. We need to stop pretending that he doesn’t. Seriously.
Dallas will line up on Sunday opposite the New Orleans Saints, who seem like one of the best teams in the NFC despite a rough 1-2 SU and ATS run over the past month. Look at their records. Dallas has one less win than the Saints! On top of that, the Cowboys have averaged a -3.5 point differential in their four losses this season. They have never been blown out, and this Sunday Night betting line suggests that that’s about to happen.
Where the Cowboys are vulnerable is on the ground. Their rushing defense is not very good, but New Orleans doesn’t really have a rushing attack. Pierre Thomas is used as a downhill, goal line guy. Darren Sproles has been a mess this whole season and is dealing with a concussion. He is one Sean Lee Encounter away from being knocked out of this game literally and figuratively.
The Saints are also having problems with their own defense. They just gave up 26-points against the Jets and Geno Smith completed all of eight passes. That’s horrifying. In their last four games, New Orleans has surrendered 22.8 points per game. The point is that there is room in that secondary – especially in the flats – for Romo to work with. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
New Orleans is a very good team, but they’re being oversold by most experts. I don’t need to list all of Drew Brees’ amazing qualities because you already know them. Dallas’s defensive strength is actually their secondary. I don’t doubt that New Orleans can put up points in this one, I just thoroughly believe that Romo can keep up with them. Yes, I just typed that sentence.
When we get to the post season, we can measure Romo’s worth. While the regular season is still raging, the Cowboys and Romo have been the best profit generating bet in the NFL. That trend continues on Sunday as they go toe-to-toe with New Orleans in a game that should decimate the OVER. Tony Romo’s playoff record doesn’t matter in the regular season unless you’re making long term NFL futures bets. The only numbers that should matter to you are 7-2 ATS. The Cowboys and Saints are both in weird funks coming out of Week 9, but Dallas is as good as NFL betting gets especially when they’re underdogs.
Sunday Night Expert Pick – Dallas +7.0 (OVER)