Cowboys vs. Bears Picks: How We’re Betting This TNF Spread & More
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Ezekiel Elliott
- Our experts reveal how they're betting the Thursday Night Football matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears.
- You'll find their picks on this 3-point spread as well as a top player prop outlined below.
- Stuckey also details how he'll be looking to wager on this primetime game live.
Cowboys at Bears Betting Picks
- Odds: Cowboys -3
- Over/Under: 43.5
- Kickoff: 8:20 p.m. ET
- TV Channel: FOX/NFL Network
Odds as of Thursday afternoon.
The Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears both sit at 6-6, but the public is having no issue supporting America’s Team with more than three-fourths of spread tickets. But is that where the best betting value is on this Thursday Night Football matchup?
Our experts reveal how they’re betting this primetime showdown, featuring a side as well as an in-game wager and Sean Koerner’s favorite player prop.
Sean Zerillo: Bears +3
As a spot play, the Chicago Bears appear to be the correct side here.
Since 2003-04, home teams are 104-89-6 (53.9%) against the spread and 120-79 (60.6%) straight up on Thursdays.
Furthermore, the Bears have been the worst team ATS this season (3-9), while Dallas is above .500 (7-5) ATS, making this an optimal late-season opportunity to bet on regression:
The Cowboys are the better team overall, but per Football Outsiders, they rank dead last (32nd) in special teams DVOA while the Bears have a top-10 unit.
Chicago should see a field-position advantage in this matchup. The Dallas offense has had, on average, the worst starting field position in football (their own 25.4 yard line), while Chicago has one of the better return units, leading the league in kick return yardage behind Cordarrelle Patterson and Tarik Cohen.
With a couple of shaky kickers in play, field position could make all the difference in what sets up as a defensive struggle.
Take the Bears, plus the points.
Stuckey: Cowboys Live
Another issue that has plagued this Cowboys team has been slow starts.
In his first two years in the league, Mitchell Trubisky excelled in the first few drives of the game, presumably the scripted portion of the game. That hasn’t really been the case this season, although we did see flashes of that success early against Detroit. And he’ll be going against a Dallas defense that’s allowing 5.8 points per first quarter (26th in the NFL). Meanwhile, the Bears are one of only four team to allow fewer than three points per first quarter.
I can’t play the Bears at +3 as all of the value number wise is with the Cowboys, considering how much more talent they have on their roster, specifically on the offensive end. They should also win the battles in the trenches and have the bookend tackles to contain the Chicago pass rush.
But it’s all of the little things I highlighted in our comprehensive TNF preview — including the special teams disparity — that scare me when it comes to backing such a fragile team on the road in a hostile environment. That said, if the Cowboys get off to another slow start and the Bears jump out to an early lead, I’ll jump in on the Cowboys as a live dog.
Sean Koerner: Ezekiel Elliot Over 3 Receptions (-115)
Zeke has consistently run a route on about 73% of Dak Prescott’s drop backs this season while change-of-pace backup, Tony Pollard, has averaged 13% of routes run per drop back.
Tony Pollard is questionable, and given the fact he didn’t practice Monday or Tuesday, he’s a true game-time decision. I would have to imagine even if Pollard suits up that he’ll be less than 100%, so we could expect Zeke’s number of snaps to spike — especially on passing downs.
Even with Pollard projected to play, Zeke averages 3.3 receptions in my model. And it’s worth noting that the Bears have allowed the fifth-most receptions to opposing backs this season.
Here’s how that 3.3 projection translates to the probability of this bet winning, losing or pushing:
- 2 or fewer receptions (losers): 35.9%
- 3 receptions (push): 22.1%
- 4 or more receptions (winner): 42.0%
This works out to a 53.9% expected win rate with the assumption that Pollard plays tonight. So what would the breakdown look like if Pollard is ruled out? Well, considering the Cowboys don’t have another running back on the roster, I would imagine Zeke might not come off the field tonight.
You could also argue that the fact that the Cowboys haven’t added another RB could be a sign that Pollard is expected to play. But while this is true, I would imagine FB Jamize Olawale would fill-in a bit in the Pollard role — Olawale proved he can handle 3-7 touches back in his days with the Raiders.
If Pollard is ruled out, I would bump Zeke’s routes run to about 80%, which would bump his projected receptions to the 3.7 range. This would translate to an expected win rate of 63.9%:
- 2 or fewer receptions (loser): 28.5%
- 3 receptions (push): 20.9%
- 4 or more receptions (winner): 50.4%
If we weight the two outcomes as Pollard being 50/50 to suit up and average out the win rates, it would come out to 58.9%. You could easily just wait until the inactive lists come out to have a better idea, but considering this prop is already showing +EV value, I’m going in now.
I would hold off if this line moves up to -130, but we should be ready to pounce if Pollard is listed as inactive tonight. I’ll be ready to tweet out if this is the case.