LOS ANGELES, November 16, 2016 — How ‘bout them Cowboys! It has been over 20 years since the Dallas Cowboys dynasty was winning three Super Bowls in four years. The triplets of Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Emmett Smith steamrolled over much of the rest of the league. Tony Romo brought the Cowboys a bunch of regular season wins, but like Danny White in the 1980s, Romo did not win the big one.
Now the Cowboys have the best record in football at 8-1, and they may have a new set of triplets. Rookie Dak Prescott has been sensational in leading the Cowboys to eight straight wins after an opening day game they lost by only one point. Ezekiel Elliott has been slashing through defenses on the ground and as a pass-catcher. As for wide receiver Dez Bryant, Irvin refers to him as “my son,” the next great 88 in silver and blue.
In the 1980s, everyone’s favorite prime time drama was “Dallas,” with Larry Hagman’s J.R. Ewing grinning like the cat who ate the canary. The real life J.R. is oilman Jerry Jones, who desperately wants to win another Super Bowl without former coach Jimmy Johnson. With tight end Jason Witten still playing well and an offensive line that brings back memories of the 1990s Great Wall of Dallas, Jerrah may have the last laugh yet.
The Cowboys have a long way to go before locking up a playoff spot, much less home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Their quest to move one step closer to those goals starts now, which brings us to the NFL 2016 Week 11 Preview and Bettor’s Guide. Point spreads are provided by FootballLocks.com and all times are Eastern.
New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers (-3.5) — Both teams lost in spectacularly shocking fashion last week, with the Panthers blowing a 17 point lead. With both teams trying to shake off adversity, go with Drew Brees over Cam Newton. Upset special, Saints win outright.
Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts (-3) — The Titans have been putting a ridiculous amount of points on the board. Marcus Mariota is coming into his own. As impressive as last week’s win over Green Bay was last week, Indianapolis also beat them. In a shootout, go with Andrew Luck at home. Colts cover.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Detroit Lions (-6.5) — The Jaguars are terrible and getting worse, while Jim Caldwell’s Lions have very quietly gotten to 5-4. Blake Bortles is the king of garbage time yards and touchdowns, which may be enough to beat the spread. Lions win but fail to cover.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Kansas City Chiefs (-7.5) — The Chiefs have a stifling defense. The spread is way too high given their Alex Smith dink and dunk West Coast Offense, but the defense will bail them out again. Chiefs win but fail to cover.
Chicago Bears at New York Giants (-7.5) — The Giants are not as good as their 6-3 record, but the Bears really are as bad as they seem. The Giants play to the level of their competition, which means struggling at home against bad teams. Jay Cutler will throw touchdowns to both teams. Giants win but fail to cover.
Arizona Cardinals at Minnesota Vikings (Pick) — Minnesota won five straight and then lost four straight. Arizona has finally struggled to get to .500. Bruce Arians’s Cardinals have the offense and Minnesota has the defense. At home, give Mike Zimmer’s defense one more chance to right the ship. Vikings win.
Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals (-3) — 28 years ago these teams met in the AFC Title Game. Now they are just inconsistent teams that will have to fight just to make the playoffs. At home, trust Andy Dalton and his receivers to handle Rex Ryan’s defense. Bengals cover.
Baltimore Ravens at Dallas Cowboys (-7) — Baltimore struggled last week at home before finally putting away winless Cleveland. Dallas is on a mission. Baltimore might be able to beat the high spread, but Joe Flacco does not have enough weapons to slow the Dallas express. Cowboys win but fail to cover.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-8) at Cleveland Browns — When the Browns returned in 1999 after being out of football for three years, they went 2-14. They lost their home opener 43-0 to Pittsburgh and beat them in Pittsburgh. If any game gets the Browns jacked up to avoid 0-16, this one is it. The Steelers just have superior talent. LeVeon Bell win get plenty of work. Steelers win but fail to cover.
Miami Dolphins (-1.5) at Los Angeles Rams — Two of America’s most exciting cities have produced a pair of uninspiring teams. Rookie Jared Goff gets his first NFL start. The Rams win ugly with defense, and Jeff Fisher’s squad should harass Ryan Tannehill into mistakes. The Rams have no offense, but even rookies know how to hand the ball off repeatedly. Upset special, Rams win outright.
New England Patriots (-13) at San Francisco 49ers — Despite a stunning revenge loss against Seattle, the Patriots are still the best team in their conference. The 49ers are the worst team in theirs. The spread is very high, and the Patriots may be slowed just enough with the loss of Rob Gronkowski to injury. Patriots win but fail to cover.
Philadelphia Eagles at Seattle Seahawks (-6.5) —After an emotional win at New England, Pete Carroll will not allow a letdown. The Legion of Boom is clicking, and Carson Wentz will feel their wrath. Russell Wilson is in a groove. Seahawks cover.
Green Bay Packers at Washington Redskins (-2.5) — Green Bay is seriously in trouble, with losses to AFC South teams in consecutive weeks. Aaron Rodgers cannot do it all by himself. The Redskins are inconsistent. This is the very last time to trust Green Bay solely because of Rodgers. Upset special, Packers win outright.
Houston Texans at Oakland Raiders in Mexico City (-5.5) — Forget futbol. Mexico is getting to see real football. The Raiders had two weeks to prepare for this game. Derek Carr is playing very well and Brock Osweiler is not. The Raiders have the offensive talent to win, but they never make it easy. Raiders win but fail to cover.