Cowboys-Colts Betting Preview: Time to Sell High on Big D?

Cowboys-Colts Betting Preview: Time to Sell High on Big D? article feature image
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Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Ezekiel Elliott

Betting odds: Dallas Cowboys at Indianapolis Colts

  • Spread: Colts -3
  • Over/Under: 47.5
  • Time: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: FOX

>> All odds as of Friday morning. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NFL odds and track your bets


Betting market: This is a polarizing game for both bettors and bookmakers. At the time of writing, Dallas is commanding a bit more than half the bets at 54%, but Indy is getting 64% of the money (see live betting data here).

Most books have moved the line to Cowboys +3 and I can’t imagine it will go past the key number of 3 to 3.5, so if you’re waiting for Dallas plus the hook, you should probably just bet it at +3 or not bet it at all. — Mark Gallant

Trends to know: A majority of spread tickets are on the Cowboys, who are on a five-game winning streak. In Andrew Luck’s career, he is 16-10-2 against the spread when getting fewer than 50% of bets, including 7-3-1 ATS when at home. — John Ewing

For the fifth time in 2018, Luck and the Colts face a top-notch defense. The Cowboys are allowing 18.9 PPG, which is second in the league behind the Ravens.

In Luck’s career, he is 14-4 (77.8%, +9 units) ATS when facing defenses that average fewer than 20 PPG allowed. He is the most profitable quarterback in this spot since 2012, per our Bet Labs data. — Evan Abrams

Did you know? The Dallas Cowboys have won three consecutive games straight up and ATS, but their average margin of victory is less than a touchdown. — Evan Abrams

Biggest mismatch: Red-zone production

While both defenses have been pretty solid at limiting touchdowns in the red zone, the Colts have been significantly better at punching it in than the Cowboys — thanks to superior play-calling and a wide variety of viable targets — especially at the tight end position.

In fact, the Colts lead the league with 19 tight end touchdowns, while the Cowboys have just one.

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper celebrates. Credit: Tim Heitman, USA TODAY Sports

Dallas ranks 30th in the NFL in red zone TD% at 46.34%. And if you think the signing of Amari Cooper has helped address that problem, you’d be mistaken. Over their past three games, the Cowboys have scored touchdowns on just 33.3% of their trips inside the 20. That’s worst in the league over that span.

Conversely, Indianapolis’ offense has had no such issues, ranking seventh in the NFL with a 68% red zone TD percentage. The Colts have been even better in Indy, where they have the third-highest home red zone TD percentage (78.26%), trailing only Pittsburgh and and Atlanta. — Stuckey

Which team is healthier? Cowboys

Both teams are still banged up, but a bit healthier than we’ve grown used to seeing.

The Cowboys could welcome back wide receiver Tavon Austin (groin) and stud linebacker Sean Lee (hamstring), but face question marks with right guard Zack Martin (knee), defensive tackle David Irving (ankle) and tight end Geoff Swaim (wrist).

The good news is left tackle Tyron Smith (neck) and Ezekiel Elliott (shoulder) are fully expected to play.

The largest question marks for the Colts include wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (ankle), safety Malik Hooker (hip) and center Ryan Kelly (knee).

Statuses from backup tight end Mo Alie-Cox (calf), safety Mike Mitchell (calf), right guard Mark Glowinski (ankle) and defensive tackle Margus Hunt (knee) will also be worth monitoring.

Note: Info as of 6 p.m. ET Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff. — Ian Hartitz

DFS edge: Since joining the Cowboys, Amari Cooper is garnering 25.5% for the Cowboys, and his 8.8 targets per game leads all receivers on the Cowboys by at least 2.8 targets per game.

The Colts defense is subpar, ranking 18th in pass DVOA, and more importantly, it has below average pass-rush, ranking 23rd in Pro Football Focus’ pass-rushing grades and 21st in adjusted sack rate.

Cooper’s +5.02 Projected Plus/Minus on FanDuel leads all receivers in the FantasyLabs Player Models for the main slat. — Justin Bailey

Bet to watch: Colts -3

Defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus will be a huge asset for the Colts this weekend, as he previously served as the Cowboys’ linebackers coach from 2011-17, including the role as passing-game coordinator the previous two seasons.

He should be very familiar with the strengths, weakness and tendencies of the Cowboys defensive personnel — particularly at linebacker, which the Colts can exploit with their efficient short-passing attack.

This is a tough spot for the Cowboys to go on the road after an enormous win over their rival that essentially clinched the NFC East title.

It’s time to sell Dallas here after five straight wins, all of which came by one possession, with the last three coming at home. — Stuckey

Bet to watch: Colts -3

The first metric I look at for the team playing the Cowboys: Rushing defense. Indianapolis ranks fifth in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric and sixth in yards per rush.

If you want to get real fancy, the Colts are third in a metric called Stuffed Rate, which measures how often a defense tackles a running back at or behind the line of scrimmage.

Dallas runs the ball at the fourth-highest rate of any team on first down (36.7%), and the Colts have the defense to turn those early down rushes into losses.

On the offensive side, Indy’s stellar line should be able to keep Andrew Luck upright (fourth in adjusted sack rate allowed) against a Cowboys defense that is much better to attack through the air (12th in DVOA) than on the ground (fourth).

Luck and Hilton have shined when playing at home together, and I expect that to continue in a game the Colts will be far more motivated to win.

Dallas has a 99.5% chance to make the playoffs, according to our simulations, while Indy needs a win to keep pace with the Ravens for the wild card. — Scott T. Miller


Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.

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