4 1/2 points.

According to covers.com, an informational non-gambling Internet site, New England opened as a 4-point favorite over the Cowboys in next week's game in Dallas between the two undefeated teams. Over the last few hours, several online Web sites have moved the spread to 4 1/2. We'll see how this goes through the week. I had predicted a 6-point spread by game time. There's no way it moves that much, but we could see it inch a bit higher, although 5 obviously would be an odd number. The over-under is a lofty 52, 52 1/2.

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This will be an interesting tug-of-war as far as the point spread is concerned. Dallas is immensely popular with the betting public but the Patriots have everybody's attention and you just know that Bill Belichick wants to stomp those Texas yahoos right into that big ol' star at midfield. The Cowboys are 4-1 against the spread and the oddsmakers haven't been able to set a line that the Patriots can't cover -- they're 5-0.

Man, this game is gonna be hyped. Quarterbacks Tony Romo and Tom Brady. Wide receivers Terrell Owens and Randy Moss. Outsized egos Jerry Jones and Bob Kraft.

This, folks, is what the NFL is all about.

TV ratings and point spreads.

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