Simulations Favor Cowboys over Falcons

Several experts this week have taken the Atlanta Falcons to down the Dallas
Cowboys, even though the Cowboys are considered the favorites by oddsmakers and
are playing at home after a bye week. Five of the eight experts at
ESPN took Atlanta,
while half of the staff members at the

Dallas Morning News
(including Jean-Jacques Taylor and Tim Cowlishaw) took
the Falcons. Two of the simulations, though, disagree with these experts. Here’s
a look:

: Dallas 28, Atlanta 23

Accuscore apparently likes the Cowboys, because Dallas seldom seems to lose
any predictions on this system. The Cowboys won 65.6% of the predictions on
Accuscore by an average score of 28.3 to 23.2. The summary:

Both the Cowboys and Falcons have had plenty of big offensive plays this
year, but at times both have struggled to put together long, sustained
drives. The winner of the game will likely be the one who can run the ball
effectively on 1st down and in short yardage situations. Michael Turner is
only averaging 3.7 ypc in simulations. If he has 4.0+ ypc the Falcons
chances improve from 33 to 44 percent. If Turner can run for at least 2
explosive plays of 20+ yards and has 5+ ypc the Falcons are 52 percent
favorites. On the flip side, if Tony Romo plays well with at least 250 yards
and no turnovers the Cowboys control the game with a 79 percent chance of

: Dallas 23, Atlanta 21

Dallas also edged Atlanta in
WhatIfSports’ predictions, winning 51.3% of the games by an average score of
23-21. Interesting note: Michael Turner will have more than 100 yards rushing if
the simulations are accurate, while nobody in the Cowboys’ trio of Marion
Barber, Felix Jones, or Tashard Choice manages more than 60 yards.

: Atlanta 27, Dallas 14

According to ESPN simulation of the game on Madden, the Cowboys will have
turnover problems and lose to the Falcons, 27-14.

When the Falcons traded for Tony Gonzalez, a lot was said about the tight
end being past his prime and how Atlanta made the wrong move. But after
another strong game from the future Hall of Famer, the Falcons look like
they in fact got the steal of the offseason. Matt Ryan found his big tight
end seven times for 110 yards, including the go-ahead touchdown as the
Falcons beat the Cowboys 27-14. Tony Romo, meanwhile, threw three
interceptions for the Cowboys, fumbling twice more as Dallas stayed within
striking distance for three quarters, but in the end couldn’t overcome the
five turnovers to beat a very good Falcons team.

My Guess (4-1 based on win-loss).

I predicted a 31-14 win
over the Kansas City Chiefs, so I wasn’t close at
all in terms of the final results. I was sort of correct, though, about the role
that Tashard Choice would play:

I think the Cowboys are going to continue their see-saw season, much like
they did in 2005 and 2006. I think this week will be a big win, giving us
false hope for two weeks. Marion Barber will play, but I look for Tashard
Choice to have a bigger game, running over the Chiefs in the second half.

I predicted a 31-14 win
over the Kansas City Chiefs, so I wasn’t close at
all in terms of the final results. I was sort of correct, though, about the
role. Choice was one of the sparks that helped the Cowboys to come back against
the Chiefs, but I had no idea that the game would be so close. I also don’t
think anyone could have predicted what Miles Austin did. My predictions thus


Week 1: Dallas 34, Tampa Bay 24
(actual: Dallas 34, Tampa Bay 21)

Week 2: N.Y. Giants 17, Dallas
14 (actual: N.Y. Giants 33, Dallas 31)

Week 3: Dallas 31, Carolina 21
(actual: Dallas 21, Carolina 7)

Week 4: Dallas 24, Denver 14
(actual: Denver 17, Dallas 10)

Week 5: Dallas 31, Kansas City
14 (actual: Dallas 26, Kansas City 20)


This week, I don’t think the bye week will help the Cowboys. I tend to be more
optimistic when making these picks, but immediately after the Cowboys’ last win,
I thought the team is set up for a letdown against a superior Falcon team. It’s
possible that Dallas could get on a November roll (as usual) before having to
face a tough December (again), but I don’ t think the winning will start against
the Falcons.


My guess is Atlanta 28, Dallas 17.

  • Jason Neighbors

    Matt, for God’s sake please stop referring to Jean-Jacques Taylor as an “expert” lol. The man is nothing but a blowhard hack. When has he been right about anything that’s not obvious, other than by accident maybe?

    And seriously, I think it’s time you get out of the prediction business! (Just giving you a hard time lol.) Hey, I wasn’t too confident of the Cowboy’s chances either, but they really showed me something today. Regardless, the Falcons are definitely not a superior team to the Cowboys. The Boys proved that much. Matt Ryan is a good QB, but he’s not in Romo’s class yet. Romo played lights out today. And Romo is not the one committing dumb penalties. If they can clean up the mental errors- a big if, I know- then they will challenge the Giants. But this team really put it to the Falcons today. I wonder what ol’ Cowboy-hater Joe Theisman will have to say on the next Playbook episode haha.

  • I won’t admit to being one of the anonymous posters on the DMN site, and I also won’t admit to targeting JJT with complaints about the DMN coverage. It’s amazing that neither he or Cowlishaw ever seem to have to admit their wrong. When they are wrong, they find a way to turn their next column into a “See, I told you so” piece.

    As for me, I was dead wrong about my prediction. When the score was 17-14, I thought perhaps I got the score right (predicted a 28-17 Atlanta win), but Austin showed he’s for real. What was more surprising was that the defense kept putting pressure on Ryan, and it threw Ryan off in the second half.

    This team would be 5-1 or 6-0 but for the defense falling apart against the Giants and Broncos. If this defense can find a way to continue to improve, who knows. The Giants certainly didn’t look impressive tonight against the Cardinals.