Cardinals vs. Cowboys Odds, Picks, Predictions: How To Bet This NFL Week 17 Spread Between NFC Contenders
Getty Images. Pictured: Cardinals QB Kyler Murray and Cowboys QB Dak Prescott
- With Kyler Murray and Dak Prescott set to duel it out in NFL Week 17, where's the betting value on this matchup?
- Our analyst examines the latest Cardinals vs. Cowboys odds in order to make his picks and predictions below.
|Time||4:25 p.m. ET|
After starting the season 10-1, the Arizona Cardinals are reeling after losing three straight games, including last week’s 22-16 loss against an Indianapolis Colts team ravaged by injuries and COVID-related absences.
Things don’t get any easier for the Cardinals, who travel to face a Dallas Cowboys team coming off a 56-14 win against Washington. Winners of four straight games, the Cowboys appear to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Their defense is among the best in the NFL, and the offense finally caught fire last week after a midseason slump.
The Cowboys started as 5.5-point favorites with a total of 50.5 before the market pushed those numbers to six and 51-52. The public appears to be backing the Cowboys in droves, while the sharp money appears to be coming in on the Cardinals since the lookahead line on this game was Cowboys -2.5.
Has this line been over adjusted based on last week’s results, or are the Cardinals limping into the playoffs? Can the Cowboys continue their dominance?
Let’s analyze both sides and find out!
Click the arrow to expand injury reports
Cardinals vs. Cowboys Injury Report
- DE Jordan Phillips (knee): Out
- CB Marco Wilson (shoulder): Out
- DE Zach Allen (ankle): Questionable
- S Budda Baker (ribs): Questionable
- RB James Conner (heel): Questionable
- TE Demetrius Harris (shoulder): Questionable
- WR Rondale Moore (ankle): Questionable
- OL Sean Harlow (illness): Questionable
- DT Quinton Bohanna (Illness): Out
Cardinals vs. Cowboys Matchup
|Cardinals Offense||DVOA Rank||Cowboys Defense|
|Cardinals Defense||DVOA Rank||Cowboys Offense|
|Football Outsiders’ DVOA measures efficiency by comparing a team’s success on every play to the league average based on situation and opponent.|
Cardinals Suddenly Trending Downward
The Cardinals started the season on fire, winning their first seven games before losing to the Packers. Despite injuries to Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins, the train didn’t stop rolling there, as Arizona won three of its next four to get to 10-1. It appeared the Cardinals were in control of the NFC West and the conference, as a whole.
A lot can change in one month, though, and the Cardinals now find themselves reeling after dropping three consecutive games against the Rams, Lions and Colts.
Unfortunately for the Cardinals, late season collapses aren’t a new thing for head coach Kliff Kingsbury.
- Cardinals Before Week 8 Under Kingsbury: 15-5-1
- Cardinals Week 8 & Later Under Kingsbury: 8-19
This isn’t unique to Kingbury’s time with the Cardinals. Dating back to his time at Texas Tech, Kingbury’s teams were 42-20 in Weeks 1-7 and 16-43 from Week 8 onward over his last nine seasons as a head coach. His teams generally fall off a cliff (pun intended).
So what went wrong for the Cardinals?
For starters, the offense has completely fallen off a cliff. Over the past three weeks the Cardinals are just 23rd in Expected Points Added (EPA) per play, 26th in Dropback EPA and 21st in Dropback Success Rate. The offense ranks bottom five in points scored during this span, and it doesn’t help that Kyler Murray has struggled since his return from injury.
Over the past four games, Murray is just 24th among all quarterbacks in EPA + Completion Percentage Over Expected (CPOE) composite and 22nd in success rate. What’s most troubling is that these performances have come against the Bears, Rams, Lions and Colts, teams with an average defensive Football Outsiders DVOA of 17. Now, Arizona gets the Cowboys, who have the top defense by DVOA.
It also doesn’t help that there’s been a clear dropdown in his play with the absence of DeAndre Hopkins.
- Murray with Hopkins: 283 passing attempts, 0.31 EPA per attempt
- Murray without Hopkins: 121 passing attempts, -0.01 EPA per attempt
The Cardinals have also seen their red zone offense decline. During the first seven games of the season, they were first in red zone offense, converting 69% of trips inside the 20-yard line into touchdowns. They’re down to 53% in the red zone, and they’ve only converted 30% of drives in red zone without Hopkins.
The Cardinals will welcome the return of center Rodney Hudson, running back James Connor and wide receiver Rondale Moore, all of whom should help this offense. Hudson will be particularly helpful against the Cowboys’ dominant pass rush.
Against a Colts offensive line without three starters, the Cardinals struggled against the run. Arizona ranks 19th in rushing success rate, allowing 40% of runs to grade out as successful. This defense has also ranked bottom five in points allowed, giving up 30 points to the Rams, 30 to the Lions and 22 to the Colts.
Cowboys Offense Heating Up
The Cowboys have held teams to an average of just 14 points per game during their four-game winning streak. Dan Quinn’s defense is first in EPA per play and second in Success Rate.
A big part of that is the pressure Dallas generates with Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence. The Cowboys are fourth in pressure rate (28.2%) and since Lawrence’s return in Week 13, the Cowboys have pressured opposing quarterbacks on 39% of drop backs.
Of course, Murray is more than capable of avoiding pressure, but he hasn’t looked the same since returning from injury. With Hopkins out, the Cowboys should be able to keep this offense in check.
Dallas has won of late in spite of its offense, which has been struggling since Dak Prescott returned in Week 9. Since then, the Cowboys are just 15th in EPA per play and 24th in Success Rate.
Fortunately, they Cowboys exploded in a big way last week. Prescott completed 28-of-39 (71%) passes for 330 yards and four touchdowns. Based on what we’ve seen from this Cardinals defense recently, I have trouble believing they can slow this offense down.
The Cowboys’ biggest advantage lies with Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard against a subpar Cardinals run defense that allows 40% of runs to grade out as successful. Success on the ground should create of opportunities for CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup on the outside.
Cardinals vs. Cowboys Predictions
The Cardinals are 7-1 against the spread (ATS) on the road this season, while the Cowboys have been a covering machine at 12-3 ATS.
While this spread may look inflated compared to the lookahead number, I beg to differ. Using full-season priors, it is, but it’s clear that the full season isn’t indicative of what this Cardinals team is at this present moment.
As the Cardinals limp into the postseason, we could looking back on this team the same way we did last season’s Steelers, who started 11-0 before losing four out of their last five games and subsequently getting eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.
Given the struggles of the Arizona defense and its inability to stop the run, I don’t see this team keeping up with Dak Prescott and the Cowboys offense. Lay the points with the Cowboys.
Pick: Cowboys -5.5 | Bet to: -6
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