Dallas CowboysThe NFL nears the midway point of the regular season in Week 8. Here’s an early play on the Sunday Night game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys:

DALLAS COWBOYS AT PHILADELPHIA EAGLES OCTOBER 30, 2011 5:25 PM PACIFIC

The 2011 Philadelphia Eagles in general—and quarterback Michael Vick in particular—have been one of the more bizarre stories I’ve seen in all my years following the NFL. Not that they’re an overhyped team that doesn’t live up to expectations which is a common enough occurrence, but the fact that so many otherwise intelligent NFL observers and handicappers have ‘swallowed the Kool-Aid’. Week after week I read and hear NFL handicappers—some whom I otherwise respect highly—trying to articulate the case that the Eagles are ‘due’ and that this is the week that everything fits together just right and the idealized video game Michael Vick magically appears at quarterback to make just the right decisions and the ersatz “Dream Team” will finally live up to their media hype.

I haven’t bought it all season long and I’m sure not buying it now. The denial surrounding this Eagles team borders on the absurd. A couple of days ago I read a football bettor who prides himself of cold, analytical breakdowns of games and a completely quantitative handicapping approach trying to explain away all of Vick’s YTD interceptions as ‘not his fault’. Obviously that may be the case for some of them, but the fact that I’d never heard him apply such revisionist history to any other player in the five or so years I’ve known him was telling.

The mainstream sports media led by ESPN has taken every opportunity to promote the meme that Vick is a ‘changed man’ following his prison term and that he’s ready to be a dominant NFL quarterback. I’m obviously a ‘dog guy’ and will never like Vick, but objectively speaking here’s the problem with that—Vick has never been a ‘good guy’ even before the dogfighting rap came to light. He’s never been a good decision maker on field or off. He’s never been a guy who responded to pressure well—recall the double middle finger salute of his hometown fans after a bad game. And maybe he’s done his time and if a team wants to pay him to play quarterback that’s their business. But someone who killed and tortured helpless living creatures for fun and profit and has such indifference for life and suffering isn’t just a guy who made a mistake and got caught—he’s a guy that has a screw loose. Even if you’re not a ‘dog guy’ I challenge you to do some research on dogfighting—a barbaric activity that involves torture, abuse and killing in every phase—and read the Vick indictment and tell me that’s the kind of guy you want to pay eight figures to serve as ‘team leader’. I not only wouldn’t want Vick quarterbacking my football team, I wouldn’t want him living in my neighborhood.

Getting back to the handicap of this game and the Philadelphia Eagles’ season—Vick may be a hell of an athlete but he’s not a mentally tough individual. There’s nothing in his makeup or career record that suggests he’ll be the architect of a monumental turnaround for this team. That’s been the fundamental premise of my handicap against the Philadelphia Eagles all season and why I went ‘Under’ on their season win totals—this is a team with a huge ‘leadership vacuum’ and when things start to go bad that sort of leadership is necessary to get them headed in the right direction. It won’t come from Vick, it won’t come from backup quarterback Vince “8 on the Wonderlick test’ Young and it won’t come from the sidelines where Andy Reid looks downright clueless about what to do with this team.

If you’ve followed my plays this year you know we’ve gone against the Eagles in just about every opportunity that has presented itself. Until the linesmakers and public realizes that they’re not a ‘Dream Team’ and maybe not even a ‘playoff team’ the value will still be there. Dallas has their own issues but they have a potent offense and a good running defense to shut down LeSean McCoy. Cowboys have dominated the head to head matchup (won 2 straight in Philly, covered four of the last five meetings overall) and until last week’s double digit win against hapless St. Louis they’d played in 11 straight games decided by four points or less. That’s not a team I want to lay points against, and the Eagles aren’t a team I want to lay points with.

Bet Dallas Cowboys +3′ over Philadelphia Eagles

Best Friends Animal Society is a great organization that rescued many of the dogs that Vick abused.

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