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NFL evaluators make picks on Week 13's best games

ESPN senior writer Mike Sando asks NFL insiders to pick winners in select games each week. Three evaluators joined the panel for Week 13. This week's games: Saints-Cowboys, Chargers-Steelers, Vikings-Patriots, Browns-Texans and Ravens-Falcons.


New Orleans Saints at Dallas Cowboys

Thursday: 8:20 p.m. ET, Fox | Point spread: NO by 7.5 | Insiders pick: NO (2/3)

We did get one taker on the Cowboys even though the Saints are on a 10-game winning streak featuring five games in which they exceeded 40 points.

"The Saints are a different team outside that dome [the Superdome] even though they've won on the road," the insider picking Dallas said. "Dallas is playing pretty good defense. Their inside linebackers are playing well, and they have some rush. The secondary scares me a little bit against Michael Thomas, but I will take the upset, with Dak Prescott doing just enough."

The Cowboys are averaging 27 offensive points per game during their three-game winning streak. They rank sixth in ESPN's metric for offensive efficiency over that span. The Saints are No. 1 by wide margins in both of those categories.

"I thought Atlanta was going to give the Saints a better fight [last week]," another insider said. "Those two early drives where Atlanta had a field goal and a fumble screwed them. Before you know it, you're down 14-3 and you have no chance against the Saints. The Cowboys have to start fast, and if they do fall behind by a touchdown, they can't just abandon their style. I don't see Dak [Prescott] and their offense being able to do enough."

The other insider picking the Saints had a simple explanation.

"What will happen is, Dallas' secondary will get exposed," he said.