Patriots vs. Cowboys Odds, NFL Picks, Week 6 Predictions: How To Find Betting Value In First Half
Getty Images. Pictured: Dak Prescott (left) and Bill Belichick.
|Time||4:25 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.|
Two of the most popular teams in the nation meet in the prime slot on Sunday afternoon as the Dallas Cowboys head east to take on the New England Patriots.
The mighty Cowboys are 4-1 and have been one of the stories of the season. Dallas is a perfect 5-0 against the spread (ATS), and the Cowboys have won four straight after a two-point loss to the Bucs back in Week 1. The Patriots have a two-point loss to Tampa Bay of their own, but New England is just 2-3 overall.
The Cowboys offense has been flying high all season, but the Patriots are a stout defense and we know Bill Belichick loves this spot as a home underdog against an outstanding offense. Will Belichick scheme up the Pats and keep New England in this, or are the Cowboys just too hot to handle right now?
The Cowboys aren’t just a feel-good story. Dallas looks like a bonafide Super Bowl contender.
Dallas ranks second in the entire NFL in DVOA, per Football Outsiders. The Cowboys rank fourth in Offensive DVOA and six on defense. Dallas ranks top in the top eight passing the ball, running it, stopping the run and stopping the pass.
That’s a pretty dominant profile. The Cowboys are flying.
This is the offense Dallas hoped for. The offensive line is finally healthy again and dominating in the trenches, blocking for two of the league’s most efficient running backs in Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard. This run game is shredding opponents again, and that sets up the passing game for success.
Dak Prescott is whole again after last year’s devastating injury, and he’s a runaway favorite for Comeback Player of the Year, as predicted. He’s also very much in the MVP race, dominating defenses with passes to Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb. Dalton Schultz has also been a breakout star at tight end.
The defense has been led by cornerback Trevon Diggs, who has an interception in all five games. Diggs is a good representation of this defense — probably not quite as good as it has looked so far, but getting by and looking great due to positive game scripts and an opportunistic and aggressive mindset that lets them make big plays and trusts the offense to make up ground when they swing and miss on that end.
Diggs is questionable in this game, though, as is stud left tackle Tyron Smith and Elliott. Those are three very important names, so make sure to check on their availability before placing your bet.
New England’s run defense has not been particularly good, so Dallas’s best way to dominate this game is probably on the ground. That could be hampered if Smith and/or Zeke are out.
New England Patriots
The Patriots are 2-3 and mostly overlooked, but perhaps they shouldn’t be. New England isn’t all that far from 4-1, having been competitive in every game.
The Patriots nearly stole that game against the Bucs two Sundays ago, and New England dominated Miami in Week 1 and really should’ve won if not for a late fumble in a one-point loss. Even the one big loss against the Saints looked much worse than it was because of essentially two pick-sixes and a rough outing from Mac Jones.
Then again, New England very well could’ve lost to the lowly Texans last week if not for a late comeback, making its only comfortable win the one against the winless Jets.
Bottom line, the Patriots have played all five opponents mostly even so far, and that’s no surprise when you remember the man in the hood orchestrating everything.
Belichick continues to scheme up ways to contend with whatever talent he has to work with. Belichick is 44-29-1 ATS (60%) with the Pats and 28-13-2 ATS (68%) as an underdog. The Patriots are 23-20 straight-up (SU) in those underdog games, giving Belichick a winning record as an underdog and a 38% ROI.
It’s important to remember that most of those games came with Tom Brady, of course, but not all of them. Belichick took Matt Cassel to 11 wins one season, and he’s won games without Brady and before Brady was great. He also consistently has his team ready for games just like this, where a seemingly unstoppable offense comes flying into Foxborough, only to see Belichick’s defense ready.
This Pats defense has been good, too, ranking ninth in defensive DVOA with the pass defense being especially good.
Cornerback Jalen Mills and pass rusher Kyle van Noy are questionable and are important to this defense. New England has only allowed 17, six, 28, 19 and 22 points in its five games, and the 28 was the game with three Jones interceptions that put the defense in a hole all day.
There’s little question that New England’s offense is the weakest unit on the field. Jones has made good decisions and accurate passes, but this passing attack is not getting the ball downfield or taking aggressive shots.
The Pats aren’t built to play from behind. The run game hasn’t been reliable either, and with Damien Harris questionable and guard Shaq Mason out, that probably won’t get any better here.
New England’s defense should be able to keep the Dallas attack somewhat in check, but can the Patriots offense do enough to give them a chance?
Patriots vs. Cowboys Picks
On our podcast last week, Raheem Palmer and I loved the Cowboys as a lookahead play. Dallas was just a one-point favorite, basically a moneyline pick. But after another comfortable Cowboys win and an ugly Patriots game against the Texans, this line jumped above a field goal and that shifted the balance.
I have this line at Dallas -3.5, right where it’s settled, so that doesn’t leave a ton of value on either side. The Cowboys are clearly the better team right now and I’d feel pretty good backing them under a field goal, but at 3.5, that hook is just enough to give me pause.
If Dallas gets Smith and Elliott healthy and dominates the run game, it could roll here. There aren’t as many ways to scheme away a great run game, and New England’s run defense isn’t made to hang. But if the Cowboys lean too much on the pass, I trust Belichick’s defense to hold its own there.
How many times have we seen this game, with an underdog Belichick team against a great offense? You know he’ll have a scheme ready to go to keep his team in the game, and you know the offense will keep the clock moving — probably with short Mac Jones passes, in this case — limit possessions, and put the pressure on the favorite as the game stays close. That’s exactly what we saw against the Bucs just two weeks ago.
This spread feels just right. If the line drops to a field goal, I might be willing to give Dallas a shot, but I’m not sure there’s a ton of value on the spread.
I don’t love the Patriots moneyline, either. Even if they keep it close, I’m not sure I trust them to get the job done late in a close game, much like we saw against Tampa Bay. Instead, I’ll make the same play I made in that Bucs-Pats game and take the first-half under 24. New England games are averaging only 18.8 points per half, and Pats first halves have seen 24 or fewer points in all five games this season, including just 13 points in the first half of that Bucs game.
If the Cowboys run game does take over eventually, it may be in the second half once the Patriots defense wears down. I trust Belichick and the Patriots defense to limit things early on, but the Cowboys talent could win out through four quarters.
Pick: 1H Under 24 (+100)