Monday Night Football Picks: Dallas Cowboys at Arizona Cardinals Odds & Predictions
When I was very young, I fell for the allure of the Dallas Cowboys. They were America's Team, after all. The stars on their helmets, the good guys against the bad guy Steelers in those Super Bowls. Now? Can't stand them. But I will give the most valuable sports franchise on the planet credit for one thing: it's always interesting.
The TV networks and various sportsbooks love it when the Cowboys are good because they are ratings and betting gold. No team drives the needle like they do. Last year, most of the highest-rated regular-season games (ditto betting handle) involved Dallas as the Cowboys rebounded to a 13-3 season behind rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott.
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While by all accounts Prescott is the model teammate and a guy whom companies have come running to in order to be a spokesman for their products, Elliott is a bigger name, partly because of his success at Ohio State but also his off-field problems. I'm not going to go into why the NFL suspended him six games at the beginning of this season or pretend to fully understand the U.S. legal system. But apparently Elliott will play all season because early this week the NFL's motion to stay the preliminary injunction of that suspension was denied. Long story short, the NFL is going to win the right to suspend Elliott eventually, but he probably won't serve it until the start of next season -- at least if things go like they did with Tom Brady.
In last week's shockingly one-sided loss in Denver, Elliott committed an on-field cardinal sin(s) and showed his immaturity yet again. Meanwhile, Arizona is 1-1 like the Cowboys, but any realistic playoff hopes that franchise had likely were lost in Week 1 when David Johnson went down. It's the Cardinals' home opener.
Cowboys at Cardinals Betting Story Lines
Not surprised that Dallas lost in Denver, but 42-17? I consider that a bigger shock than New England's season-opening upset at home against Kansas City. That excellent Broncos defense basically sold out to stop Elliott, force Prescott into third and long and beat it. Elliott was held to just 8 yards on nine carries. Prescott had to put it up 50 times against the best pass defense in the league. He managed only 238 yards and was picked off twice.
It was on those interceptions where Elliott drew the ire of NFL analysts everywhere. He basically quit on the plays like a little baby instead of trying to tackle the defender. One led to a 103-yard touchdown return. If some scrub does that, he's cut or suspended. All Elliott got was a "talking to" by Coach Jason Garrett. It's always something with this team. Not many clubs have the quality of defense that Denver does, but the NFL is a copy-cat league, so expect similar schemes to stop Elliott and maybe get into his head a bit.
There was a prop back in the preseason, I think at Bookmaker, on whether Arizona's Johnson would become only the third player in NFL history to reach 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season. He came up 121 yards short in the receiving column last year and maybe would have gotten it if not for leaving the season finale very early. Johnson, in my book the best all-around running back in the NFL, hurt his wrist in Week 1's loss in Detroit and was placed on IR. That means he's out until at least Nov. 9.
Arizona is toast without him. Sure, the Cardinals come off a 16-13 OT win at the Colts, but Indianapolis is awful without Andrew Luck and it took an Arizona rally from 10 points down in the fourth quarter just to get to the extra session. Then the Colts' Jacoby Brissett gift-wrapped a win with a pick on Indy's first possession of overtime. The Cards re-signed Chris Johnson when DJ went down, and CJ looks like he'll be the main man for now as he led the team with 44 yards on 11 carries.
But without DJ, the Cards have to rely more on past-his-prime Carson Palmer, and I'm simply not sure he's up to it. He threw for 332 yards vs. Indy but was just 19-for-36 with a pick. No. 1 WR Larry Fitzgerald is a future Hall of Famer but slowing down at age 34. There will be one very popular Cardinal picked up this week in your fantasy leagues: WR J.J. Nelson. He's seeing more run with fellow wideout John Brown hurt (expected to miss Week 3, too) and Nelson had five catches for 120 yards and a TD against the Colts. He has six touchdown catches in his last seven games overall, and four have come in the fourth quarter. Nelson also has had the second- and third-best receiving games of his career within the last four games.
Cowboys at Cardinals Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , Dallas is a 3-point favorite (-120) with a total of 47. On the moneyline, the Cowboys are -165 and Cardinals +145. On the alternate lines, Dallas is -2.5 (-145) and -3.5 (+105). The Cowboys are 1-1 against the spread (0-1 on road) and 1-1 "over/under" (1-0 on road). The Cardinals are 0-2 ATS (first home game) and 1-1 O/U.
Dallas is 2-7 ATS in its past nine games. It is 1-5-1 ATS in its previous seven after a loss. The Cardinals are 4-11 ATS in their past 15 at home. They are 2-7 ATS in their past nine following a win. The over is 7-3 in the Cowboys' past 10 in September. It's 8-1 in Arizona's past nine overall.
Cowboys at Cardinals Betting Prediction
Arizona has won the past four meetings, but the teams haven't played since 2014 and both are vastly different (the Cowboys' QB that day was Brandon Weeden) now so I take nothing from that. Most well-coached teams play great the week after a blowout. Am I confident Garrett is a good coach? Not really, but the Cowboys' talent level is simply much superior to the Cardinals. Give the 2.5 points and go over.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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