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Cowboys vs. Bears Betting Picks, Predictions & Odds: Dallas Not An Automatic TNF Pick

Cowboys vs. Bears Betting Picks, Predictions & Odds: Dallas Not An Automatic TNF Pick article feature image

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Dak Prescott

  • The Dallas Cowboys are 3-point road favorites against the Chicago Bears on Thursday Night Football.
  • You'll find betting odds -- including analysis of the spread -- as well as staff picks below.

Cowboys at Bears Betting Picks, Predictions & Odds

  • Odds: Cowboys -3
  • Over/Under: 43.5
  • Kickoff: 8:20 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: FOX/NFL Network

Odds as of Wednesday evening.

Public bettors are piling on the Dallas Cowboys as 3-point road favorites against the Chicago Bears with more than 75% of tickets and cash supporting America’s Team. But this Thursday Night Football matchup isn’t as much of a no-brainer as one would think.

Our experts preview this primetime NFC showdown, featuring analysis of the betting odds and staff picks.

Thursday Night Football Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Cowboys (barely)

Dallas has some injuries on the defensive side with linebacker Leighton Vander Esch ruled out with his neck injury, along with safety Jeff Heath (shoulder) and defensive lineman Antwaun Woods (knee).

Also of note: Running back Tony Pollard was downgraded on Tuesday with an ankle injury and is listed as questionable. His potential absence would leave Ezekiel Elliott with the whole workload in the backfield. Meanwhile, Randall Cobb is dealing with an illness, but is expected to play.

The Bears have ruled out four players: Linebacker Danny Trevathan (elbow), tight end Ben Braunecker (concussion), offensive lineman Bobby Massie (ankle) and wide receiver Taylor Gabriel (concussion) while cornerback Prince Amukamara (hamstring) is doubtful. Justin Bailey

Note: Info as of Wednesday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff.

Biggest Mismatch

Bears Special Teams (And Other Small Things) vs. Cowboys Special Teams

With all of that talent on an offense that ranks first in the NFL in third down conversion percentage at 48.98%, how can the Cowboys be only 6-6? They have the same record as a Bears offense quarterbacked by Mitchell Trubisky, who leads a unit lacking that same talent and elite offensive play that’s only converting 31.41% of their third downs (29th).

This Cowboys offense ranks first in the NFL with 6.5 yards per play and were just recently at 6.7 prior to last week. For perspective, only four (!) offenses have finished a season averaging 6.7 yards per play or better since 2005.

  • 2016 Falcons: 7.0 yards per play; 11-5 record
  • 2018 Chiefs: 6.9; 12-4
  • 2011 Saints: 6.9; 13-3
  • 2011 Packers: 6.8 ; 15-1

Those four teams had a combined regular-season record of 51-13, and not one had fewer than 11 wins — that’s a smidge below an 80% winning percentage, yet here the Cowboys are at 6-6.

Meanwhile, the Bears offense is averaging almost two full fewer yards per play at 4.6 (only the Jets and Dolphins are worse), yet sit with the same exact record.

The Dallas defense also ranks third in third down conversion percentage — higher than Chicago at seventh. And from a yards per play perspective, the Cowboys sit in the top 10 at 5.1, just slightly behind the Bears’ 4.9.

From a net yards per play perspective, Dallas ranks second overall at 1.4, trailing only San Francisco’s 1.5. The Rams are third at 0.9 and the Bears are 22nd at -0.3.

If you just look at some of the offensive and defensive raw numbers, this line should be 4 or 5 at minimum. So, what gives? Well, it’s all of the little things: Penalties, turnovers, coaching and special teams, which is usually where you look when a team is either significantly under- or over-performing their raw surface numbers this late into the season.

The Cowboys’ special teams have been nothing short of a disaster, giving their offense the worst starting field position in league. They’re also looking for a new kicker and the kickoff coverage has been abominable. Oh, and did I mention Dallas ranks dead last in net punting?

The kick coverage lapses are concerning against a Bears team that ranks first  in average kick return yardage. Not surprisingly, the Cowboys rank dead last.

The Bears don’t have an elite special teams unit since they still haven’t solved their questions at kicker, but it’s still an above-average unit that I rate inside the top 10, primarily due to their return game. Per Football Outsiders, the Cowboys have the league’s worst special teams while the Bears rank ninth.

Cordarrelle Patterson
Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Cordarrelle Patterson

Cordarrelle Patterson ranks second in the NFL in average kick return yardage and Tarik Cohen ranks sixth in average yards per punt return, while Tavon Austin is second to last among qualified punt returners.

The Cowboys defense also just doesn’t force enough turnovers, averaging only one takeaway per game (bottom-five in NFL).

And penalties? The Cowboys rank 28th in penalty yards per game. The Bears rank 13th.

And I don’t have to remind you about some of the questionable coaching decisions Jason Garrett has made this season. You also have to wonder about the state of this team psychologically with all of the rumors flying and videos of yelling and screaming from the locker room after their most recent loss. Stuckey

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Cowboys -2.5
  • Projected Total: 43

The public is clearly behind Dallas in this matchup, which isn’t too surprising as the Cowboys are traditionally a public team and are certainly better on paper than the Bears despite both teams being 6-6. In fact, Dallas’ Pythagorean expected record is 7.9-4.1, which is +1.9 differential (third-highest in the NFL). Most people would argue that it’s due to coaching and why Garrett is on the hot seat right now.

But it’s likely the public is underestimating the Bears, who have won three of their last four with the Cowboys losing three of their last four. Public pressure is not letting books keep this line at -2.5, and sharp action is preventing them from moving it to the key number of -3. Therefore the line has been parked in between the two numbers all week. The sharp play would be to take the Bears +3 (-115). Sean Koerner

[In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet, which pays out your TNF bet (up to $50) if your team scores the first TD of the game]

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Mitch Trubisky

PRO System Match

The Bears have been the least profitable team this season, failing to cover the spread in nine of their 12 games. The Cowboys have been better with a 7-5 against-the-spread record.

There is lopsided betting action on the Cowboys as road favorites (see live public betting data here), which is not a surprise as gamblers love a team that has shown an ability to cash for bettors. But history suggests gamblers shouldn’t expect each team to continue their usual ways.

ATS records tend to regress to the mean over the course of a season as bookmakers adjust to team performance and public perception. As a result, it’s been profitable to bet teams with bad ATS records against opponents with winning ATS records.

Following this simple Pro System, bettors have gone 173-107-10 (61.8%) ATS since 2005. A $100 bettor would have returned a profit of $5,636 following this strategy.

Bettors are counting the Bears out against the Cowboys, but history suggests Trubisky and Co. can cover. John Ewing

PRO Systems are data-driven betting strategies that turn winning long-term trends into easy-to-follow picks, all handpicked and monitored by our team of analysts. Try Action PRO now and instantly access real-time game matches for every PRO System.

Expert Pick

Stuckey: Cowboys Live

Another issue that has plagued this Cowboys team has been slow starts.

In his first two years in the league, 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 +2.5 as all of the value number wise is with Dallas, considering how much more talent the Cowboys 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 earlier 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.

[In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet, which pays out your TNF bet (up to $50) if your team scores the first TD of the game]

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