Jeff Duncan: Now’s the time to play against Cooper Rush and the Cowboys | Jeff Duncan

The Cowboys-Giants game on Monday night features one of my favorite plays in the NFL — the new quarterback angle.

The idea is simple: Bet on the new quarterback in his debut and go against him the following week.

I don’t have any empirical evidence to support this angle, but it’s been my experience that it is a highly profitable play.

Exhibit A: Cooper Rush. The Dallas backup came through in the second start of his NFL career last week, when he led the 7-point underdog Cowboys to a 20-17 upset of the Bengals.

Rush didn’t light up the scoreboard, but he played within himself and avoided major mistakes.

Now, it’s time to go against him. I’d like to see the New York Giants getting more than just 1 point, but I like them as a home dog on Monday Night Football. The G-men have been lucky to win their first two games, but they’re playing good defense, and I think the home crowd will be amped up for the prime-time showdown against their NFC East rivals.

I’ll hedge the play by betting the under-39 total. The Cowboys defense is legit, especially up front. They should make life tough for Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley. I envision a low-scoring game of field goals.

As for the philosophy of the angle, there are multiple reasons why it makes sense.

One, you usually get a break on the line. The betting public is always skeptical of backup quarterbacks. That was the case last week when the Cowboys opened as 1.5-point underdogs and saw the line balloon to plus-7 by kickoff. Smart bettors took advantage of this underlay.

Two, teams tend to rally around backup quarterbacks. Players know they need to lock in and often rally around the cause.

And three, there’s a surprise factor for the opponent. Backup quarterbacks such as Rush don’t have a lot of game film for opponents to evaluate. The element of the unknown often works in their favor.

In the second week, these factors are undone. Teammates are not quite as motivated, and opponents have game film on the new quarterback to evaluate and use to game-plan against him.

Like anything, this angle isn’t full proof. But more often than not, it’s a profitable play.

Some other spot plays for me this weekend:

Southern Miss +13 at Tulane: Tulane is riding high after its big upset of Kansas State and might have its eyes set on next week’s big conference game at Houston. This feels like a classic trap game for the Green Wave. I think Tulane wins, but I like Will Hall’s improving Golden Eagles to cover.

Packers-Bucs under-42: Two legit defenses. Two struggling offenses with Hall of Fame quarterbacks. The Bucs have been getting by with smoke and mirrors so far offensively. They’ll struggle against the Packers’ dominant front seven. Another game of field goals.

49ers -1.5 at Broncos: Jimmy Garoppolo is an upgrade at quarterback for San Francisco and he might have his favorite target, George Kittle, back for this one.

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