Cowboys vs. Chargers Odds, Predictions & NFL Pick: Still Betting Value On This Sky-High Week 2 Total

Cowboys vs. Chargers Odds, Predictions & NFL Pick: Still Betting Value On This Sky-High Week 2 Total article feature image

Getty Images. Pictured: Dak Prescott (left) and Justin Herbert.

  • Looking for Cowboys vs. Chargers odds? Find the point spread, over/under and moneyline outlined below.
  • Our betting analyst also takes a closer look at this NFL Week 2 matchup and odds before making a pick on the total.

Cowboys vs. ChargersOdds

Chargers Odds-3 (-110)
Cowboys Odds+3 (-110)
Moneyline+145 /-165
Time4:25 p.m. ET
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.

Week 2 is here, and there's not a better matchup on the NFL's Sunday main slate than this one.

In a game that should be full of fireworks, Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys travel west to take on Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Cowboys kicked off the NFL season with a heartbreaking 31-29 loss to Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl-champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A few days later, the Chargers pulled off a gritty 20-16 win on the road against the Washington Football Team.

Unfortunately for the Cowboys, they come into this game riddled with noteworthy injuries to DeMarcus Lawrence, La'el Collins and Michael Gallup. Although the move to a 17-game schedule could change things, teams who start 0-2 have historically made the playoffs just 12% of the time.

Nevertheless, oddsmakers installed the Chargers as 2.5-point underdogs with a total of 52, before the betting market moved the side to 3-3.5 and the total to 54.5.

So where's the betting value in this matchup? Let's analyze both sides and find out!

Cowboys Offense Has Room For Improvement

This season's Cowboys team resembles last year's incarnation, with a dominant offense and porous defense that hemorrhages points to the opposition.

Dallas' loss to the Buccaneers did nothing to change that perception.

Prescott was impressive in his return from the gruesome leg injury he suffered last season, and then a shoulder ailment that kept him out of the preseason.

Prescott completed 42-of-58 passes for 403 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. He finished 10th among NFL quarterbacks in Week 1 in EPA/play and sixth in Success Rate (55.7%).

It's pretty clear that Prescott hasn't skipped a beat even after a long absence.

Interestingly enough, the Cowboys went with a pass-heavy attack against the Buccaneers, throwing on 82% of plays en route to a success rate of 57%. It was certainly an optimal strategy since the Buccaneers were first in Defensive Rushing Efficiency, but it was interesting to find out that Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore actually called more runs than we saw on the field.

Kellen Moore says the Cowboys called 28 runs on Thursday night. Dak checked out of 12 of them based on the look.

— David Helman (@HelmanDC) September 13, 2021

You have to wonder if the Cowboys will call an optimal game given Moore's preference toward the run. Nonetheless, Dallas should be far more effective on the ground against this Chargers defense, which allowed 126 rushing yards on 4.7 yards per carry against Washington last week.

While the Cowboys did score 29 points and with a +0.13 EPA and 51.2% success rate against the Buccaneers, their issues came in the red zone.

Dallas finished just one-for-four within the opposition's 20-yard line, which means there were plenty of points left on the board. That's especially an issue given the struggles of kicker Greg Zuerliein, who missed two field goals last week.

The Cowboys should find themselves in shootouts throughout the season because of their offensive firepower, although that side of the ball is banged up coming into this game.

Losing Gallup hurts Dallas in three-receiver sets, but there's enough talent with Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Cedrick Wilson to overcome that, particularly against a Chargers team that is missing cornerback Chris Harris Jr.

The loss of Collins hurts the Cowboys offensive line, but the return of All-Pro right guard Zack Martin from the COVID-19 list should help. That unit will be tasked with facing a Chargers defensive line led by Joey Bosa that had a 26.9% pressure rate in Week 1. With reserve tackle Ty Nsekhe out, the Cowboys' depth could really be tested.

Against Tampa Bay, the Cowboys gave up 6.7 yards per play and 7.6 yards per pass attempt while allowing a 52.3% success rate, ranking 29th among NFL teams in Week 1.

Making matters worse, the Cowboys are dealing with the absence of Demarcus Lawrence, who is out six to eight weeks with a broken foot. With Randy Gregory on the COVID list, it's tough to see how this defense generates any pass rush.

The secondary is also dealing with injuries. Both starting safeties Damontae Kazee and Donovan Wilson are listed as questionable. Continue to monitor their status for Sunday, but it's clear this defense will continue to struggle in this spot. There's going to a lot required of Prescott and the offense for the Cowboys to win this game.

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Herbert Begins Year 2 Strong

Herbert is a rising star in this league, which became even more evident after his performance against Washington.

The Chargers constantly found themselves in third-and-long situations but were 14-of-19 on third down. While 19 third-down situations is worrisome, that kind of conversion rate is encouraging.

Although Los Angeles put up just 20 points, it was a victim of multiple red-zone turnovers. The Chargers drove the ball down the field at will on Washington, registering 27 first downs. The number of third downs actually helped keep Washington on the field so L.A. could control the clock.

Herbert threw for 337 yards and one touchdown with a dropback success rate of 55.8%, which ranked seventh in the NFL. We can only expect that to improve against a Cowboys defense that gave up 31 points in Week 1.

Both Keenan Allen (nine catches, 100 yards) and Mike Williams (eight catches, 82 yards, one touchdown) were extremely effective against the Football Team, and they both could be in for a big day Sunday against Dallas.

Like the Cowboys, the Chargers don't come into this game with a clean bill of health. The Chargers will be without right tackle Bryan Bulaga, who was placed on injured reserve last week. Fortunately for L.A., the Cowboys don't have the pass rushers to capitalize on that absence.

There are still a lot of unknowns defensively for the Chargers under first-year head coach Brandon Staley.

L.A. was fortunate to face the Football Team with Taylor Heinicke taking over for Ryan Fitzpatrick, who suffered an early hip injury.

The Chargers had a 56% success rate against the pass against Washington. They'll face a much steeper test against the Cowboys — and they'll have to do it without Harris, who has been ruled out with a shoulder injury.

L.A. could also be without missing defensive tackle Justin Jones (doubtful due to a calf injury) and safety Nasir Adderley (questionable).

While the secondary is banged up, Bosa leads a defensive line that is coming off a performance against Washington, which registered a 26.9% pressure rate.

Cowboys-Chargers Pick

Given the Cowboys' injuries and defensive issues, the Chargers have been bet up from -2.5 to -3. I agree with the line movement as L.A. should win this game, but I can't recommend a play on them at that number.

However, I do believe there's some value on the total.

If you listened to the Action podcast with me and Brandon Anderson, you’ll know that I suggested the over 51.5 points based on those lookahead lines. Nevertheless, these markets move fast and we’ve already seen movement on this line up to 55 points.

I believe there’s still some value there. Both teams have high-powered offenses that are capable of coming close to hitting this total themselves. Both will also be taking a step down in competition after playing what’s believed to be two of the league's best pass rushes in Week 1.

Despite facing strong defenses in Week 1, both teams performed well. I'm expecting these teams' red-zone percentages to regress to the mean this week and if that's the case, this game should fly over the total.

This game is a shootout. Jump on the over before this line gets to 55.

Pick: Over 54.5 (-106) at FanDuel

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