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The Dallas Cowboys have hit their stride in recent weeks and have finally started playing some great ball just in time for the holidays. However, the New Orleans Saints are still in search of a playoff spot in the tightly contested NFC and would love to pick up this NFL betting 'W' on Thursday afternoon.
Matchup: New Orleans Saints @ Dallas Cowboys
Date: Thursday, November 25th, 4:15 ET
Location: Dallas Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, TX
Game Line: Dallas +3.5
Saints Notes: The biggest concern that the Saints have right now is whether or not RB Reggie Bush is going to be back in the lineup. Many thought that he would be back last week against the Seattle Seahawks, but HC Sean Peyton elected to hold him back for a few more days to get ready for the bigger test against Dallas. RB Pierre Thomas has been back at practice as well, and though he isn't quite ready to come back to the team as of yet, getting back either one will help out a squad that only has four rushing TDs for the entire season. Needless to say, this has piled a ton of pressure on the right arm of QB Drew Brees, as he has had to carry this entire offense at times by himself. Brees will become the fourth quarterback in the NFL to reach the 3,000 yard barrier on Thursday afternoon, as he already has 2,969 yards and 22 TDs. New Orleans is averaging 286.8 yards per game through the air and 382.3 yards per game in total, both marks of which leave it in the Top 5 in the NFL. Defensively, things are significantly better than they appear. Statistically, this is already a great team, as the Saints rank No. 4 in the league in total defense and scoring defense and No. 2 in pass defense. However, they have had a number of scores against them either directly or indirectly courtesy of the offense and special teams, and if you take those scores away, New Orleans is allowing less than 13 points per game. Brees has thrown for more touchdowns than teams have scored against the Saints defense this year.
Cowboys Notes: The Cowboys have put forth their two best efforts of the entire season since getting Interim HC Jason Garrett in command of the troops. HC Wade Phillips had watched his team give up at least 34 points in four of his last five games before getting fired, and Garrett has come in and kept the New York Giants and Detroit Lions to a total of just 39 points in two games. Things are looking great this year for WR Miles Austin, TE Jason Witten, and WR Dez Bryant. Those three already all have over 500 yards this year, and all three could threaten the 1,000 yard barrier when the season is said and done. QB Jon Kitna is doing a nice job taking care of this offense in the absence of QB Tony Romo. Kitna has thrown for 1,223 yards and ten scores against seven picks in numbers that looks awfully comparable to those of his injured predecessor. The problem that Dallas has right now is that it cannot run the football. We're still puzzled as to why as well, as all three of RB Marion Barber, RB Felix Jones, and RB Tashard Choice are all still in the lineup on a regular basis and none have been injured. Over his career, LB DeMarcus Ware has accounted for 73 sacks. If he can get 1.5 more on Thursday against a New Orleans team that he ripped to shreds last year, he'll be at double digits for the fifth straight campaign. Stopping Ware is going to be paramount for the Saints to be able to win on Thanksgiving Day.
The Final Word: The Saints might be on the verge of missing out on the playoffs, but they are a lot better than a 7-3 record would suggest, particularly defensively. If that defense can get the job done against a relatively one dimensional Dallas offense and can get some good things going on the ground with a healthy combination of Bush and/or Thomas, Brees should be able to pick apart a questionable secondary for a ton of yards and a ton of points. New Orleans should rock and roll and get some real revenge for last season's loss to the boys from Big D.
Free Pro Football Picks: New Orleans -3.5
Prediction: New Orleans 41 – Dallas 27