The Spread and Total
Dallas Cowboys (-3, 46 O/U) at Oakland Raiders, courtesy of Sportsbetting.ag.
Dallas Cowboys 7-6 SU (7-6 ATS); 2nd NFC East
Oakland Raiders 6-7 SU (4-8-1 ATS); 3rd AFC West
DT David Irving (concussion), doubtful; CB Orlando Scandrick (back), doubtful; T La’el Collins (back), questionable; LB Justin Durant (concussion), questionable; T Tyron Smith (back), questionable; LB Sean Lee (hamstring), questionable.
WR Amari Cooper (ankle), doubtful; DE Denico Autry (hand), questionable; CB David Amerson (foot), questionable; WR Cordarelle Patterson (hip), probable.
Nov. 28, 2013 (AT&T Stadium, Arlington): Dallas 31 Oakland 24
Nov. 26, 2009 (Cowboy Stadium, Arlington): Dallas 24 Oakland 7
The only recent clashes have seen the Raiders be the sacrificial turkey for Cowboys Thanksgiving.
Significant ATS Trends
Oakland is 2-8 ATS in its last 10 against NFC opponents.
Dallas has covered in its last three games on the west coast.
Dallas is 3-6 ATS in its last nine Sunday Night Football appearances.
The total has gone UNDER in Oakland’s last four games.
The total has gone UNDER in five of the last six Cowboys games.
For a pair of mediocre teams on the fringe of the playoff picture, this is essentially a “loser leaves town” matchup. Dropping this game will leave Oakland two games back of the division leader (whoever wins Saturday’s Chiefs-Chargers tilt). As for Dallas, they need to leapfrog four teams in the final three weeks to sneak into an NFC Wild Card spot, and anything less than winning out won’t get it done.
The good news for the Cowboys is that this is the last week they’ll have to make due without suspended running back Ezekiel Elliott. Dallas got off to a rocky start during Elliott’s six-game ban, failing to top 10 points in three straight games. But the offense found itself Weeks 13 and 14, scoring 38 and 30 points, respectively, including a 454-yard outburst against the Giants last Sunday.
Those struggles may have been as simple as getting Tyron Smith back and at full strength. After missing two games, in which Dallas surrendered 12 sacks, Smith was a little sluggish on a short week against L.A. in Week 12. But over the last two games, the Cowboys have allowed just one sack. All that extra time has restored Dak Prescott’s confidence, and he’s thrown for five touchdowns and no interceptions over that stretch. He’s also had the support of a ground game that’s gained 304 yards in that time.
However, it doesn’t take a world-class offense to hang points on Oakland. The Raiders defense ranks dead-last in defensive DVOA coming into the week. Opposing QBs are averaging a 105.1 passer rating and completing 69.2-percent of their throws. It’s not like Raider corners are gambling in coverage and losing either; they only have two interceptions and 40 pass breakups on the year. As a team, they have a paltry 10 takeaways all year, and they’re kind of lucky the number is that high: the Raiders have one of the highest fumble recovery percentages in the league, ranking sixth.
This is nothing new for Oakland, though. Last year’s defense was pretty miserable as well (22nd in defensive DVOA), but the team still won 12 games on the strength of the offense. This year, Derek Carr hasn’t been able to pick up the slack. His struggles start with a wide receiver corps that was thought to be a strength. Outside one big game against the Chiefs, Amari Cooper has been a non-factor all season, and other receivers have caught his drop-itis. Oakland receivers have dropped 24 balls this season, over five-percent of the team’s total passing attempts. By comparison, Dallas receivers have just 11 drops, 2.7-percent of the Cowboys’ total passes.
That doesn’t remove all responsibility from Carr, a quarterback many thought could’ve been MVP last season but for a broken leg in Week 16. He’s releasing the ball quicker, which is often framed as a positive, but in this case means that downfield routes don’t have time to develop. His yards per attempt has dropped accordingly from 7.5 to 6.8.
The Cowboys are by no means a lockdown defense. They’ve been exploited by passing attacks that are willing to test them deep, like the Chargers on Thanksgiving. However, the Raiders will need to be careful of the pass rush if David Irving is healthy. Together, he and Demarcus Lawrence have 20.5 sacks on the year. The Raiders would be wise to lean on the ground game early, since they left Marshawn Lynch warming up in the bullpen for most of last weekend. Beast Mode has three straight games with a touchdown, and is averaging 6.75 yards a carry over the last two weeks.
Both of these teams are disappointments this season, but at least Dallas has had a few impressive outings to remind you what this team is capable of. The Raiders best win this season was a 45-20 home win over the Jets. The Cowboys are likely still going to fall short of the playoffs, but letting their fans down in Week 16 or 17 would be far more traumatic.
As for the total — the only thing I’ve been calling right lately — I’m going to roll with the latest trends. I know this has the potential to turn into a shootout, but the inconsistency of both offenses, coupled with Dallas’ desire to run the ball, means the clock will be the OVER’s enemy.
Pick: Dallas (-3) and UNDER (46).