Finally, the clumsy and dreadful version of the Dallas Cowboys we expected to see all along showed its ugly face. It was a Thanksgiving Day massacre.
Tony Romo, playing the role of a quarterback with a broken back, tossed two interceptions. DeMarco Murray found little room to run. The offensive line broke down. The defense was picked apart like a turkey, and there were no leftovers.
The Philadelphia Eagles attacked from the start and only let up in the fourth quarter, when it was obvious the Cowboys were finished, set for a nap on the couch and ready to relinquish first place in the NFC East.
“We needed the Eagles,” said Jimmy Vaccaro, oddsmaker at the South Point sports book, “but I didn’t think Philadelphia could shut them down like that.”
Dallas was shut down in a 33-10 loss that helped the books emerge as winners Thursday. A majority of the betting public played the Cowboys and over the total of 57, but the favorite failed to show up and the shootout fizzled.
The Eagles, underdogs of 3 to 3½ points, followed the flawless lead of Mark Sanchez, a quarterback castoff from the New York Jets. That’s a surprising twist, to say the least.
The script is revised every week in the NFL. How many teams have spent time at the top of various sets of power rankings? The Cowboys were considered No. 1 once, but their 6-1 record has turned into 8-4, and their December schedule suggests more tough times are ahead.
Suddenly, the Seahawks are alive again. And after three straight unimpressive wins, the death watch for the 49ers is on again. Matthew Stafford, who was terrible for two weeks, revived the Lions and buried the Bears in the process.
The Thanksgiving tripleheader was a dramatic disappointment. All three games made it easy to fall asleep after overeating. But bettors on Detroit, Philadelphia and Seattle were thoroughly entertained.
Sanchez directed the Eagles on touchdown drives of 80 and 88 yards on their first two possessions. The Cowboys, stumbling out of the gate after a big Sunday night road victory over the New York Giants, briefly showed some kick when Murray scored on a 1-yard run.
But Murray had too many short runs. The league’s leading rusher carried the ball 20 times for 73 yards, only the second time this season he was held under 100. Romo was sacked four times. Dez Bryant, a great wideout and a Hall of Fame fool, threw several emotional fits. These were the Cowboys we expected to see all along.
“Bryant just wears you thin with all that insanity on the sideline,” Vaccaro said.
On the flip side, Sanchez completed 20 of 29 passes and accounted for two touchdowns, and LeSean McCoy rambled for 159 yards as Philadelphia (9-3) ran coach Chip Kelly’s offense to near perfection. The underdog and under the total were perfect results for the books.
The Chicago-Detroit game was a different story. The Bears turned a 14-3 lead into a 34-17 loss. Smart bettors, public or otherwise, cashed in on the Lions minus-7 and over 46½.
“We lost the first game pretty good. That was the biggest loser of the day,” Vaccaro said. “Even the smarts looked like they might have learned their lesson with the Bears.”
The game ended, fittingly, with Jay Cutler throwing an interception in the end zone, and that could not have been scripted any better.
When the night came to an end in San Francisco, Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman were eating turkey legs at midfield, and soon-to-be-former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh fixed his Clint Eastwood glare and offered few words to explain a hideous 19-3 loss.
Bookmakers went home smiling with the results coming Seahawks plus-1½ and under the total of 40½.
“I’m not inside every book, but it should be a fair winner for the joints,” Vaccaro said. “No crazy games. It was steady all day. Good action.”
The Bears were bad, and the Cowboys and 49ers were the ugly.
■ CLOSING NUMBERS — The downside to rivalry weekend in college football is that the regular season is winding down. It feels like it flew by. But this schedule is a monster.
One team I’m betting against is Florida State, the luckiest team on the planet. The Seminoles are 11-0 straight up but 3-8 ATS, and all three covers were Houdini acts. This could be the week the magic runs out, and we’ll see if quarterback Jameis Winston can bail out the Seminoles yet again.
I went 3-2 in this spot last week. At 49-34 ATS for the season, here are eight picks for today and Saturday (home team in CAPS):
IOWA (-1) over Nebraska; Colorado State (-7) over AIR FORCE; Michigan-OHIO STATE (Over 51½); Washington (-3½) over WASHINGTON STATE; CALIFORNIA (-4) over Brigham Young; Florida (+7½) over FLORIDA STATE; Mississippi State (-2) over MISSISSIPPI; Notre Dame (+7) over SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA.
Las Vegas Review-Journal sports betting columnist Matt Youmans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2907. He co-hosts “The Las Vegas Sportsline” weekdays at 2 p.m. on ESPN Radio (1100 AM). Follow @mattyoumans247 on Twitter.