Despite starting the season 0-4 losing three of their last five games, New Orleans is somehow, someway still mathematically alive in the playoffs. Numbers never were my thing.
Dallas will look to eliminate the Saints and, on the outside looking in, work its way toward securing a spot itself.
Here’s everything you need to know about this Week 16 matchup.
Where: Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, Texas
When: Sunday, December 23 at 1:00 p.m. ET
Listen: Sirius XM Radio: 92 or online at Audio Pass
Spread: Dallas -3, according to Odds Shark
Despite their record of 8-6, the Cowboys actually have negative net points this season. That means they lose by more points than they win. And that isn’t the type of team to bet they’d cover a spread of over -2.5.
Over/Under: 51, according to Odds Shark
New Orleans and Dallas average a combined 51.1 points per game. Their defenses also surrender a combined 51.5 points per game.
Something about those numbers just screams to take the over.
New Orleans RB Pierre Thomas is questionable with a knee injury.
New Orleans RB Chris Ivory is questionable with a hamstring.
New Orleans RB Jimmy Graham is probable with a wrist injury.
New Orleans CB Corey White was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury.
Dallas LB DeMarcus Ware is questionable with an elbow injury.
Dallas RB DeMarco Murray is probable with a foot injury.
Dallas RB Felix Jones is probable with a knee injury.
Dallas WR Dez Bryant is probable with a finger injury.
Dallas LB Ernie Sims is questionable with a concussion.
Dallas CB Morris Claiborne is questionable with a concussion.
Dallas NT Jay Ratliff is questionable with a groin injury.
Fantasy Big Plays
New Orleans: RB Mark Ingram
An injured Pierre Thomas means more carries for Ingram, who rushed for 90 yards and a touchdown last week. That was the first time he rushed for at least 70 yards this season, but he hadn’t received more than 16 carries in a single game either. With Thomas potentially unable to suit up, a 20-carry outing becomes a possibility.
Dallas: WR Dez Bryant
Fractured finger? Such an injury is no big deal for Bryant who caught a touchdown in his sixth straight game this past Sunday.
Against the Saints’ 31st-ranked pass defense, it’d be a surprise if he didn’t extend the streak to seven games.
Keys to a New Orleans Win
Drew Brees is capable of putting the Saints on his back and carrying them to victory, and that’s exactly what he must do against the Cowboys. New Orleans defense is such a liability that, against a quality team, a shootout is the Saints’ most realistic way to win a football game.
Keys to a Dallas Win
Tony Romo must continue to play smart football. He doesn’t necessarily have to match Brees’ numbers. In fact, he won’t match Brees’ numbers.
But as long as he protects the football and gets Bryant and Jason Witten their touches, he’ll have done his job.
New Orleans will enter the contest hot after smoking the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by the score of 41-0. Dallas will enter hotter, though, having won five of its last six games.
Big D’s defense will make the difference.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.