Dr. Bob Previews BRONCOS (+3). Vs. COWBOYS
Denver may be lucky to be unbeaten (they needed an 87 yard tipped pass to beat Cincy in week 1), but the Broncos certainly deserve a bit more credit for their 3-0 start. Even without the 87 yard fluke pass play, which I took out of my stats, Denver is still averaging 5.4 yards per play with a nice balance between the run (160 yards per game at 4.8 ypr) and the pass (187 yards at 6.2 yards per pass play).
Denver has faced teams that would allow 5.6 yppl to an average team, but an offense that is 0.2 yppl worse than average is good enough when you have a defense that has yielded just 3.9 yppl.
That number is very good even when you adjust for the fact that Denver has faced a mediocre Cincy offense and the bad attacks of Cleveland and Oakland. Those 3 teams would combine to average just 4.9 yppl against an average defensive team, so the Broncos' defense has been 1.0 yppl better than average under the guidance of brilliant defensive coordinator Mike Nolan.
I actually rate the Denver defense at 0.7 yppl better than average and an explosive Dallas offense that rates at 1.4 yppl better than average will be tough to stop. However, Denver's offense should be able to keep up by moving the ball against a Dallas defense that's allowed 6.1 yppl to a schedule of teams that would average only 5.2 yppl against an average defensive team.
Using this year's games only would actually favor Denver by 7 1/2 points in this game, but I believe that Dallas is better defensively than they've shown (although still probably worse than average) and Denver is not quite as good on defense as they've been so far this year.
Even with those assumptions my ratings still favor Denver by 1 point and 3-0 teams are 21-4 ATS in game 4 if they're at home and not favored by more than 4 points.
However, teams that have allowed less than 10 points in 3 consecutive games are just 14-31 ATS the next game, including 8-25 ATS if the opponent has a win percentage of greater than .333.
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