Buccaneers vs Cowboys Pick, Odds: Expert Prediction Bets Over/Under
- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night with the final spot in the Divisional Round up for grabs.
- Dallas has moved to a 3-point road favorite, meaning Tom Brady & Co. will enter this one as underdogs despite hosting the game.
- Continue reading for an expert breakdown and betting pick for tonight's conclusion to the NFL's Super Wild Card Weekend.
Buccaneers vs Cowboys Odds
|Moneyline||+126 / -148|
|Time||Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET|
|Odds via FanDuel.|
Wild Card Weekend ends with just Buccaneers vs. Cowboys odds on the board, as two of the league's most popular teams fight for a matchup with the 49ers.
So, what's our Bucs vs. Cowboys pick?
Tampa Bay clinched the division in Week 17 after a comeback win against the Carolina Panthers. The Bucs chose to rest their starters in the final three quarters of its Week 18 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
The Buccaneers enter this game with a positive injury report, claiming they are as healthy as they've been all season. These teams met in Week 1, when the Tampa defense completely shut down Prescott, who suffered an injury, and the Cowboys offense in a 19-3 victory.
Since Prescott returned from injury, though, the Cowboys have been a top-five offense by most metrics. This matchup comes down to whether the healthier Buccaneers defensive front can slow down the Cowboys' early down run offense, and whether the anemic Tampa Bay offense can find success against a struggling — and banged up — Dallas pass defense.
If Tampa Bay approaches this with more of a pass-first approach, the total is too low given Dallas' defensive struggles.
Buccaneers vs. Cowboys Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how the Buccaneers and Cowboys match up statistically:
Buccaneers vs. Cowboys DVOA Breakdown
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Dallas Offense vs. Tampa Bay Defense
There's been much discussion about Prescott's turnover problems, which have been very real this year. Careful and protective of the ball in years past, Prescott has been throwing into tight windows more, missing in tight coverage and turning the ball over.
Interceptions are an increased risk because Cowboys receivers aren't good at getting separation. Prescott throws into tight windows at a top-five rate in the league. But on a play-to-play basis — and excluding turnovers — Dallas' offense is still elite.
The Cowboys offense ranks fifth in the league in EPA/play (excluding turnovers) since Week 7, when Prescott returned from injury. Only the Kansas City Chiefs have a higher passing success rate. Tampa Bay will benefit from the return of most of its full secondary, but it's unreasonable to expect them to be at its best in this game.
Prescott also has considerable splits this year from a clean pocket and under pressure. Tampa Bay is just 22nd in pass rush win rate and the defense isn't nearly as difficult to run on as in the past.
Tampa Bay Offense vs. Dallas Defense
If you look at the season-long metrics, the Cowboys defense is a top-five unit based on DVOA, EPA/play and drive success rate. Dallas has an elite pass rush and its secondary was excellent throughout the first half of the year.
However, there was significant regression in the second half of the season. The secondary lost both Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis to injury and the backups haven't held up nearly as well.
The Cowboys defense is outside the top 10 in success rate allowed since Week 10 and 19th in EPA per play when you exclude turnovers from the sample. Turnovers are relevant to how good a defense is, but they're more prone to variance and it's more predictive to look at how a defense performs on a down-to-down basis. Dallas slides to 21st when the sample only first and second downs.
Tampa Bay has had major issues running the ball all season. The Buccaneers have insisted on trying to run on early downs, but haven't had success.
They rank 30th in early down rushing success rate and 32nd in EPA per rush. We've seen the Buccaneers offense get stuck for large parts of games this year, and they've only been effective when Tom Brady increases tempo and goes pass-heavy in two-minute drills.
The cracks started to show in the Cowboys' win over the Texans. Davis Mills was able to move the ball up and down the field, and then Trevor Lawrence did the same when the Jaguars offense scored 34 points the ensuing week. Gardner Minshew and Joshua Dobbs — a backup and third-string quarterback — also found success, relative to the market price going in.
The defense was priced as a top-five unit and still is being valued as one in this matchup, even though that's no longer the case. The Buccaneers can have success through the air as long as they don't waste downs trying to run the ball.
The market is also overreacting to Prescott's poor performance last week. Dallas has an efficient run offense and the Buccaneers' previously elite run defense of past seasons is outside the top 10 in rushing EPA.
I'd bet over up to 46.5.
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