Lions-Cowboys Betting Preview: Sean Lee’s Absence Looms Large for America’s Team
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Jason Garrett
Betting odds: Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys
- Spread: Cowboys -3
- Over/Under: 44
- 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: It wasn’t available for long, but the majority of bettors grabbed Detroit and the hook at +3.5 while they had the chance. About 75% of the market was on the Lions on the day lines opened, when +3.5 was widely available.
Trends to know: Linebacker Sean Lee, the heart and soul of the Dallas defense, is out 2-4 weeks with a hamstring issue. According to our Bet Labs data, the Cowboys last season were 8-3 straight up and 7-3-1 against the spread when Lee started, but 1-4 SU and ATS when he did not play. — John Ewing
The Cowboys are currently receiving fewer than 40% of spread tickets at home against the Lions. If they close below 50%, it will be Dallas’ fourth consecutive game to start the season with the public fading America’s Team — the first time that has happened in our dataset (since 2003).
The Cowboys are 13-23-3 ATS (-10.8 units) when the public is fading them as a favorite, making the Cowboys the second-least profitable team in the NFL since 2003 in that situation, behind the Rams (5-18 ATS). — Evan Abrams
Matthew Stafford is coming off a huge home win in primetime over the Patriots. In his career, Stafford and his Lions are 8-16-3 ATS (-8.2 units) on the road off of an SU win.
Stafford is also the second-least profitable QB in this spot, ahead of only Ben Roethlisberger, who is 17-25-2 ATS. — Abrams
Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott is averaging only 5.7 yards per pass attempt this season. Since 2003, favorites averaging below 6.0 yards per pass attempt have gone just 115-140-10 (45.1%) ATS, according to our Bet Labs data. — Chris Raybon
Matchup to watch: Lions’ rush defense vs. Ezekiel Elliott
The Lions have played the Patriots, Jets and 49ers, three teams you wouldn’t consider powerhouse rushing offenses. However, the Lions defense currently sits dead last in the NFL at 5.4 yards allowed per carry.
If Matt Breida could run the ball 11 times for 138 yards and Isaiah Crowell 10 for 102, imagine what the NFL’s former leading rusher can do to the Lions’ rush defense.
Expect an angry Zeke to bounce back in a big way from a sloppy performance in Seattle. There will be no shortage of cereal in Dallas on Sunday. — Stuckey
Injury watch: The Cowboys are expected to be without Lee (hamstring) for multiple weeks, while no timetable has been given for center Travis Frederick’s return (illness).
Dallas slot receiver Cole Beasley (ankle) and safety Jeff Heath (ankle) aren’t believed to be dealing with serious injuries, though the defensive front faces real questions regarding the statuses of defensive tackles Maliek Collins (knee) and Antwaun Woods (groin).
The Lions have a banged-up offensive line, with left guard T.J. Lang (back) and right guard Frank Ragnow (knee) participating in limited fashion on Thursday.
Detroit is otherwise healthy; only defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (shoulder) and backup tight end Michael Roberts (knee) are in danger of missing Sunday’s game.
DFS edge: Elliott is averaging 19.7 touches per game and actually leads the Cowboys with 18 targets. He boasts some of the best touchdown equity on the slate, owning 53% of the Cowboys’ red-zone target share.
Bet To Watch: Lions +3
If I were a bold guy, I’d bet Detroit on the moneyline, which is +130 at the time of writing (see live odds here), because I think the Lions will win this game outright.
Since Jason Garrett became the full-time head coach in 2011, the Cowboys are the only team in the league (besides the hapless Raiders) to allow opponents to score more points as visitors (23.6 per game) than as hosts (21.5).
In other words: The Cowboys have no home-field advantage.
They’ve failed to hit their implied Vegas total in 8-of-10 games going back to last season, falling short by 6.2 points. Prescott’s sophomore regression has continued into his third season, and Elliott has literally a 0% success rate as a receiver in 2018.
The Cowboys have averaged a pitiful 13.7 points per game so far this season.
Worst of all: Lee is expected to be out. Under coordinator Rod Marinelli, Dallas has allowed an average of just 18.8 points in 39 games with a healthy Lee but 24.4 in the 28 games he has missed or exited early.
I honestly wouldn’t be surprised to see the Lions win by 10.
Am I Cowboys fan? Unfortunately, yes. Why do you ask? — Matthew Freedman
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.