NFL Expert Picks Against the Spread: Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys
I guarantee you that if there was flex scheduling allowed on Monday Night Football that ESPN would dump the Vikings-Bears matchup - a game I will preview here at Doc's - for Sunday afternoon's big Packers-Cowboys showdown. But you can't show Green Bay and Dallas on national television every week, and you can't take every big matchup from CBS or Fox. There are only three games in the 4 p.m. ET window in Week 5, so practically the whole country will get Green Bay-Dallas regardless.
Certainly on any list of the Top 10 most-anticipated matchups when the schedule was released on April 20, Packers-Cowboys had to be on it. Dallas is by far the most popular team in the NFL, on the TV networks and at the various sportsbooks. The Packers are probably third in both behind also the Patriots - and New England's popularity will fade whenever Tom Brady finally retires.
The Packers (3-1) have largely owned the NFC North this decade, and I expect them to win it again -- although the Lions (also 3-1) look a little better than expected. Those two teams close the regular season in Detroit for the second straight year and could well have a division winner-take-all showdown again. The Pack are -210 at Bovada to win the North and +350 favorites to win the NFC for the first time since 2010.
Dallas (2-2) of course had the NFC's best record last year but is currently a game behind the Eagles in the East Division. The Cowboys are +220 second favorites on the division odds and +650 to win the conference.
Packers at Cowboys Betting Story Lines
I would say that Green Bay has a nice advantage coming off a Thursday 35-14 rout of Chicago in Week 4 with that extra time off, but perhaps no team is more banged up. Some key guys like offensive tackles David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga and defensive tackle Mike Daniels missed the Chicago game. Then the team's top two running backs, Ty Montgomery and Jamaal Williams left injured. So did receiver Davante Adams on a stretcher after a vicious and very illegal (these days) hit by Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan.
I'd like to tell you who will play this week, but it probably won't be decided until Sunday. It sounds like Montgomery and Williams are unlikely, meaning rookie Aaron Jones will start at tailback and be a popular fantasy pickup this week. Amazingly, as bad as the Trevathan hit looked, Adams might play. Green Bay isn't gaining a lot of yards offensively but ranks No. 1 in red-zone efficiency, scoring touchdowns on 78.6 percent of its trips inside the opponents' 20-yard line. That's pretty much all thanks to Aaron Rodgers, who is playing like an MVP.
Under Jason Garrett, the Cowboys have not been a smart wager on a short week, and they weren't last Sunday (off a MNF Week 3 game) in losing a home stunner, 35-30 to the Rams. Dallas blew first-half leads of 17-6 and 24-13. That Rams offense moved up and down the field in the second half; defense was always the worry with the Cowboys. L.A. had 24 first downs and 412 yards. The Cowboys moved the ball just as well with 440 yards and 22 first downs. Dak Prescott (252 yards, three TDs), Ezekiel Elliott (85 yards rushing TD, 54 yards receiving, TD) and Dez Bryant (five catches, 98 yards) all had nice games. I'm just going to throw this out there: It's possible there's another legal decision in Elliott's suspension case this week. The NFL is seeking a stay of the injunction that is keeping Elliott on the field.The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans heard oral arguments on Monday. I'm frankly tired of talking about that case, but losing Elliott would clearly be big.
The good news for that Cowboys defense is that reinforcements could be on the way. Linebacker Anthony Hitchens has yet to play this season because of a tibial plateau fracture but might Sunday. David Irving's four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy is over; he was the team's best defensive lineman late last season. Pro Bowl linebacker Sean Lee might return from a one-game absence (hamstring).
Packers at Cowboys Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , Dallas is a 1-point favorite (-120) with a total of 52. On the moneyline, the Cowboys are -130 and Packers +110. On the alternate lines, Dallas is -1.5 (-115) and -2 (-110). Green Bay is 2-2 against the spread (0-1 on road) and 3-1 "over/under" (1-0 on road). Dallas is 2-2 ATS (1-1 at home) and 2-2 O/U (1-1 at home).
The Packers are 4-1 ATS in their past five following a win of at least 14 points. The Cowboys are 1-7 ATS in their past eight vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 9-1 in Green Bay's past 10 vs. the NFC. It's 4-0 in the Cowboys' previous four vs. teams with a winning record. Green Bay is 2-5 ATS in its past seven in Big D. The over is 4-0 in the previous four meetings there.
Packers at Cowboys Betting Prediction
It's the sixth meeting between the two teams in the past five years. They split in 2016. In the regular season at Lambeau, the Cowboys pulled off a 30-16 upset as Prescott threw for 247 yards and three scores (he also lost a fumble and was picked off). Elliott rushed for 157 yards. Rodgers threw for 294 with a TD and a pick.
In the divisional round of the playoffs, Green Bay won the best game of the 2016 postseason short of the Super Bowl, 34-31. Rodgers had one of the best plays of his career on a third-and-20 in the final minute in hitting Jared Cook on a 36-yard pass. That set up Mason Crosby's 51-yard field goal as time expired. Green Bay leads the all-time series 18-17.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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