Cowboys vs. Patriots Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds: New England Favored By Too Much?
USA Today Sports. Pictured: Tom Brady, Mohammed Sanu
- Are the New England Patriots too heavily favored against the Dallas Cowboys?
- Our experts analyze this Week 12 showdown, complete with betting odds and expert picks.
- You'll also find analysis of the biggest mismatch and Sean Koerner's projected spread below.
Cowboys at Patriots Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds
- Odds: Patriots -6.5
- Over/Under: 45.5
- Kickoff: 4:45 p.m. ET
- TV Channel: FOX
Odds as of Thursday evening.
Sunday gifts us a late-afternoon showdown between the NFL’s two most popular franchises: The Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots. But despite the excitement surrounding the matchup, Tom Brady and Co. are near touchdown favorites over America’s Team.
Our experts analyze whether the Patriots are being overvalued in the betting market, as well as offer their picks and projected odds.
Cowboy-Patriots Injury Report
Which team is healthier? Patriots
The Cowboys could be without two key players.
Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch reportedly isn’t going to play to avoid a flare up of a neck issue, while they could also be without RT La’el Collins, who sprained his MCL last week. He grades out as Pro Football Focus’ third-best tackle in terms of run blocking, which isn’t great news for the Dallas run game.
The Patriots are dealing with some injuries to their receivers. And although Phillip Dorsett (concussion) returned to limited practice on Thursday, he still needs to clear the concussion protocol. Mohamed Sanu (ankle) is expected to miss this game and could reportedly be out a couple weeks. — Justin Bailey
Note: Info as of Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff.
Cowboys Defensive Line vs. Patriots Offensive line
New England’s offensive line is annually one of the best in football, but it’s been decimated by injuries this season. The front five rank a middling 14th in run blocking efficiency and 27th in stuffed rate (per Football Outsiders).
The Patriots should get a big boost by the return of offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn, whose 77.4 pass-blocking rating on PFF is critical to improving their passing game. While the’ve allowed only 17 sacks, Brady has struggled under pressure — his 29.2% pressured completion percentage is 26th among all qualified quarterbacks.
Dallas’ defensive line, meanwhile, is led by a pair of fierce pass rushers.
Defensive end Robert Quinn leads the Cowboys in sacks (8.5) and is third in total pressures (30) despite missing the first two games of the season due to a suspension. Fellow defensive lineman Demarcus Lawrence grades out 10th among all defensive ends, per PFF. The Cowboys will also bring a highly-motivated Michael Bennett, who will face his former employer for the first time this season.
The key ingredient to success against the Patriots is being able to create pressure with just four rushers. The Cowboys have the talent to provide that pressure, allowing their secondary to defend New England’s compromised receiving core. — Mike Randle
Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds
- Projected Spread: Patriots -7
- Projected Total: 47
There’s been some bizarre line movement on this total.
Bookmakers opened the over/under in the 47-47.5 range, and while action has been fairly even thus far, the total has dipped all the way down to 45.5. It’s highly likely books recognized sharp action being fairly lopsided on the under and it required pulling the total down two whole points.
I’m not so sure I can pinpoint what sharps are seeing here that I’m not.
We have one of the top passing offenses facing the top pass defense, which makes this a fascinating matchup to cap. The Patriots have admittedly faced one of the easiest schedules to date — even last week they caught a short-handed Eagles with Alshon Jeffery ruled out and DeSean Jackson placed on IR.
But Bill Belichick loves to game plan in a way that shuts down the opposing team’s best player. The problem he faces with the Cowboys is that Amari Cooper is the Cowboys’ best receiver in the passing game, but the Patriots still have to worry Michael Gallup, Randal Cobb and Ezekiel Elliott. Dak Prescott is more than willing to spread the ball around as seen with Gallup and Cobb posting 100-plus receiving yards just a week ago.
This sets up to be more of a shootout than people realize, meaning I’m willing to nibble on over 45 (which is still available at some books). I’m only a bit hesitant to make it a full play due to the fishy line movement so far. — Sean Koerner
PRO System Match
The Patriots have been one of the most profitable teams this season. New England has covered the spread in seven of 10 matchups and hasn’t made bettors sweat much with an average cover rate of 7.0 points per game.
A majority of spread tickets are on the Patriots as of writing (see live public betting data here), which is expected given their ability to cover.
However, against-the-spread 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 against teams that have covered the spread by a big margin.
Following this Pro System, bettors have gone 312-242-17 (56.3%) ATS since 2005. A $100 bettor would have returned a profit of $4,949 following this strategy.
It’ll be difficult for casual bettors to fade the Pats, but history suggests bettors should take the points with the Cowboys. — 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.
Stuckey: Cowboys +6.5
Welp, it’s time to fade the Pats at home, where Brady is 73-44-5 (62.4%) ATS in his career, covering by almost four points per game. A 21.8% ROI is pretty damn good.
That said, this line is way too high per my numbers.
The Patriots offense still isn’t humming and they’ve had a number of key injuries along the offensive line (and at fullback), which have stymied the running game. Getting Wynn back should help some, but there will still be gaps that the Cowboys can exploit to get pressure on Brady, which you have do to slow him down.
The Patriots also obviously sorely miss Rob Gronkowski at tight end and have been dealing with a never-ending carousel at receiver due to injuries and cuts, so it’s obvious why the timing has been so off.
And while the Patriots defense is elite, it’s slightly overvalued due to its cakewalk of a schedule.
The Ravens are the only elite offense New England has faced, and they shredded the Patriots for 372 yards in a 37-20 blowout win. And, well, the Cowboys will be the second elite offense the Pats face — one of the three NFL offenses that rank in the top-five in Football Outsiders’ rush and pass offense DVOA (one of the other three being Baltimore).
Dallas has the No. 1 overall offense according to DVOA, which includes a rush and pass offense ranked in the top three. The Patriots’ struggling offense, meanwhile, ranks 14th in pass offense and 18th in rush offense.
It all starts up front with an elite offensive line, but it doesn’t hurt to have a back like Ezekiel Elliott, who should have success against a vulnerable Patriots run defense. And when the Cowboys aren’t running it, Prescott — who is playing as well as any quarterback — should have plenty of time to find his weapons.
The Patriots do have three lockdown corners who can match up with the Dallas wideouts in New England’s heavy man scheme, but I do expect Prescott to have some success through the air. Plus, the X-factor could be his legs. The Patriots have struggled with mobile quarterbacks in the past as they keep the chains moving and pick up yards once they get past the first level of the heavy man-to-man Pats defense.
Expect Prescott to keep the chains moving with his legs on a few critical third downs.
This Cowboys offense is playing too well to be catching almost a touchdown against a struggling Pats offense. I make this line 3.5, as I don’t see much separation between these teams.
Yes, the Patriots will have a huge coaching advantage, but I can’t pass up the touchdown. If it doesn’t come, I still like 6.5 (which I played) and also bought some to 7, which isn’t a bad idea.