The Dallas Cowboys’ collapse is making history among Las Vegas oddsmakers.
Three weeks after being listed as a 3-point favorite against the New York Giants, the Cowboys are 14-point underdogs for the teams’ Nov. 14 game at New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Tony Sinisi, odds director for Las Vegas Sports Consultants, said he can’t remember a bigger point swing for an in-season rematch in 20 years of setting betting lines on National Football League games.
“In the NFL, it’s one thing to play poorly, but they’re not showing up,” Sinisi said of the Cowboys in a telephone interview. “There’s nothing there right now. The 14 (points) here to me is well deserved.”
It marks just the third time this season that an NFL team has been favored by two touchdowns.
When the National Football Conference East rivals met on Oct. 25 in Texas, the Cowboys were favored by a field goal even though they were 1-4 and the Giants were 4-2.
New York pulled out a 41-35 victory and broke the collarbone of Dallas quarterback Tony Romo. Without their Pro Bowl leader, the Cowboys were outscored 80-24 in losing their next two games. The five-game losing skid resulted in the firing of coach Wade Phillips and left a team that entered the season among the Super Bowl favorites at 1-7.
“They do have a pretty big injury with Romo, but it’s hard to say it any other way -- the last couple weeks they’ve just quit,” Sinisi said.
RJ Bell, president of Las Vegas-based Pregame.com, said oddsmakers take a team’s motivation into consideration when re- evaluating their weekly NFL power rankings.
In breaking down this week’s point spread, Bell said, there’s probably a six-point swing because the game is being played at the Giants’ home instead of at Cowboys Stadium. Bell also assumes a six-point adjustment for Romo’s absence -- a difference he says is the maximum any one NFL player is usually worth.
That leaves a five-point adjustment attributed to the reassessment of the Cowboys’ team overall, according to Bell, whose handicapping information website is the largest compliant with U.S. laws.
“The Cowboys’ downward power-ranking adjustment in a few short weeks is one of the most severe I’ve seen in over 25 years of betting the NFL,” he said by e-mail.
The last time the Cowboys lost to the Giants by more than 14 points was Nov. 2, 2008, when they were beaten 35-14 at the old Giants Stadium.
While New York has won three straight overall in the series, quarterback Eli Manning said he expects to see improvement from the Cowboys under interim coach Jason Garrett, who was promoted from offensive coordinator.
“Whenever a new coach comes in, you feel like you have a new season,” Manning told reporters yesterday. “Everything has been erased, and you can start over. They’re going to come in fired up and we know they’re talented all over the field.”
There have been 72 in-season NFL coaching changes since 1960 and interim coaches have a 20-51-1 record in their debuts.
“We have to put what’s happened so far this season behind us and get going forward,” Garrett said yesterday on a media conference call. “The Giants will present a great challenge for us.”
The Giants have averaged 32.2 points during a five-game win streak and their defense has allowed a league-low 250.6 yards per game.
“No question that they’re going to come in fired up,” Manning said. “Nothing would make them happier than to come into the Giants’ stadium and beat us.”
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