Buccaneers-Cowboys Betting Preview: Will Dak and Dallas Get Back on Track?
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4), running back Ezekiel Elliott (21).
Betting odds: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys
- Spread: Cowboys -7
- Over/Under: 48
- Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
- TV channel: NBC
>> All odds as of Friday afternoon. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NFL odds and track your bets
Betting market: Spoiler alert: the public is betting the Cowboys. Sixty-seven percent of spread bets are taking Dallas, but 63% of actual dollars wagered are on the Bucs (check out the live data here).
This line was at -7 for most of the week, but a vig of -115 has pushed the Cowboys to -7.5 at some books. — PJ Walsh
Trends to Know: Dallas was shut out 23-0 in Indianapolis in Week 15. It is rare for teams with a winning record to go scoreless in a game: The Cowboys are just the 24th team to do it since 2003.
According to our Bet Labs data, the previous 23 teams went 11-11-1 against the spread in their next game.
Under Jason Garrett, the Cowboys are 4-8-1 ATS following an outing where they scored fewer than 10 points. — John Ewing
This week, one of the best defensive teams in the NFL, the Cowboys (19.2 points per game), will face one of the worst defensive teams in the league in the Buccaneers (28.8 PPG).
Since 2003, when a team is allowing fewer than 20 PPG, faces a team allowing over 28 PPG, the better defensive team has struggled against the spread, going 8-15-2 (34.8%) in this spot. — Evan Abrams
The Bucs have really struggled on offense the past two weeks scoring 14 points or fewer in back-to-back games.
Since 2003, teams that have scored 14 points or fewer in consecutive games, facing a team allowing fewer than 20 PPG in December or later, are 41-27-1 ATS (60.3%).
Since 2010, those teams are 16-8-1 ATS (66.7%) and have covered the spread by 3.4 PPG. — Abrams
Playoff picture: Dallas can officially clinch the NFC East with a win. Doing so would almost certainly lock the Cowboys into the 4-seed, as they’re two games behind the Bears. — Scott T. Miller
Biggest mismatch: Dallas RB Ezekiel Elliott vs. Bucs Run Defense
Our Anthony Amico did a great job breaking down this matchup, and I agree with his assessment that Elliott vs. the Bucs’ rush defense will define this game.
Even though the Cowboys aren’t as strong as they used to be on the interior of their offensive line, Elliott easily leads the league with 286 carries and 1,349 rushing yards. Not once this year has Zeke had fewer than 15 carries per game.
Since his rookie season in 2016, Elliott is the only player in the league to average more than 100 yards rushing per game. In fact, Elliott ranks second all time with his per-game rushing average of 101.6 yards, trailing only Hall-of-Famer Jim Brown, who has 104.3.
Zeke should have a massive performance against the Bucs, who rank dead last with a 61.3 Pro Football Focus run-defense grade.
Tampa has a good defensive interior with tackles Gerald McCoy and Vita Vea, but linebackers Devante Bond and Adarius Taylor and dime-backer Andrew Adams are exploitable with respective 60.6, 35.7 and 30.6 PFF run-defense grades.
I can’t imagine not betting the over on Zeke’s rushing yardage prop. — Matthew Freedman
DFS edge: Since the Cowboys acquired Amari Cooper in Week 9, Dak Prescott’s 17.6 fantasy points per game rank sixth among quarterbacks. Prescott draws a favorable matchup against a Buccaneers defense that’s allowing 6.2 yards per play (second-highest).
Prescott has also been tremendous at home this season, averaging 8.15 yards per attempt and 261.86 passing yards per game, compared to 6.44 yards per attempt and 214.71 passing yards per game on the road.
Which team is healthier? Buccaneers
The Cowboys are expected to have starting guards Zack Martin (knee) and Xavier Su’a-Filo (eye), but tight end Geoff Swaim (wrist) doesn’t appear any closer to returning.
The defense could use the services of defensive tackle David Irving (ankle) against the Buccaneers’ above-average pass offense.
The Bucs are tentatively expected to welcome back DeSean Jackson (thumb), although the defense will have to live without safety Justin Evans (toe) for the remainder of the season.
Bet to watch: Buccaneers +7.5
With or without Cooper, the Cowboys’ core offensive strength is still Elliott and the run game, but that brand of football isn’t conducive to blowing opponents out.
This season, for instance, the correlation of simple passing efficiency as measured by net yards per attempt is more than three times more correlated to average point differential (0.68 correlation coefficient) than simple rushing efficiency as measured by yards per carry (0.22).
Even since Cooper joined the team, Dallas’ net YPA is 6.18, 17th in the league, and well behind Jameis Winston’s mark of 6.84 (10th). I’m in agreement here with The Action Network’s Power Ratings, which have this spread at Dallas -6.
Six of the Cowboys’ eight wins this season have come by seven points or fewer, meaning they’ve outscored an opponent by enough points to cover this spread just twice in 14 games. — Chris Raybon
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.