NFL Expert Picks Against the Spread: Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys
That indigestion you may have felt Thanksgiving night? Perhaps it was the mother-in-law's candied yams or maybe due to watching a full day of pretty ugly NFL action. In case you didn't get enough of the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys from Turkey Day, they play this Thursday night in what can be called a wild-card eliminator - although I doubt the winner is good enough to earn a playoff spot. The loser is surely done.
Dallas (5-6) sits 10th in the NFC standings overall and Washington (5-6) 11th. Forget about the NFC East race as that's over - Philadelphia's magic number is one and thus would clinch with a Cowboys loss here or victory Sunday night in Seattle. Dallas is hoping to at least have a mathematical shot at a wild-card spot when Ezekiel Elliott returns from his six-game suspension on Christmas Eve. The Cowboys have a very winnable game - although one could argue no games look winnable for them without Elliott -- next Sunday at the Giants but then a tough finishing stretch of at Oakland, vs. Seattle (Elliott's return) and at Philadelphia. I tend to think the Eagles will have nothing to play for by then, however.
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Could Dallas missing the playoffs cost Jason Garrett his job? It's obviously not his fault that Elliott is a knucklehead at times, but it has been striking how poor this team has played without him. Jerry Jones has said he has given absolutely no thought to dumping Garrett, but some reports out of Dallas are that Garrett, the 2016 NFL Coach of the Year, could be fired if the Cowboys lose this one and then at the G-Men. The NFL Network reported that the Cowboys players are growing frustrated about the team's lack of adjustments and simple game plan.
Washington's remaining schedule is a bit easier - I'd say Jay Gruden's seat is a bit warm as well. The Skins probably lose Week 14 at the Chargers, but there's no reason they can't close with a three-game winning streak vs. Arizona, vs. Denver and at the Giants. Will 9-7 be enough for a wild-card spot? In the AFC, probably. Not sure about the NFC.
Redskins at Cowboys Betting Story Lines
It is possible that Dak Prescott simply isn't as good as we all thought? Of course, he was one of the biggest surprises of the 2016 season and the reason Tony Romo is now with CBS. Prescott edged out Elliott for NFL Rookie of the Year and set several team records. But the Cowboys have been crushed by a combined score of 92-22 in their three-game skid, the first time in franchise history the team has been held under 10 points in three straight games. Prescott hasn't thrown for more than 179 yards in that span with zero touchdowns and five picks.
Everyone says the NFL is not a running back-centric league any longer, and you look at guys like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers putting up huge numbers with a revolving door at tailback. Maybe Prescott needs Elliott. The running game is actually averaging a decent 99.3 yards without Elliott. The passing game has gone missing with just three pass plays of at least 20 yards during the losing streak. Perhaps there is a reason Prescott was a fourth-round pick.
Garrett is planning some changes in the wake of all this. On Sunday, the team released running back Darren McFadden and kicker Mike Nugent, and added free-agent defensive lineman Datone Jones and running back Trey Williams from the practice squad. Not sure those alone are going to solve any problems. Expect some demotions/promotions on a defense that gave up eight pass plays of at least 20 yards in the 28-6 Thanksgiving loss to the Chargers and hasn't had a sack or takeaway in the past two games. Garrett says his coordinators are safe, though.
The Redskins had a better Thanksgiving holiday, beating the New York Giants 20-10 in the nightcap game. I wouldn't call that a terrific effort by the Skins, but it was a step forward for a defense that had been pummeled by 72 combined points the previous two. The Giants managed only 170 yards, but they stink. Rookie Samaje Perine was a bright spot vs. New York with 100 yards rushing and three receptions for 30 yards (fellow tailback Chris Thompson was lost for the year the previous week). Jamison Crowder has become Kirk Cousins' main man - that was supposed to be free-agent addition Terrelle Pryor, but he was a mega-bust and now done for the year - and had seven catches for 141 yards and a TD vs. Washington. Tight end Jordan Reed has missed the past four games with a hamstring injury and isn't likely for Thursday.
Redskins at Cowboys Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , this game is a pick'em with a total of 44 . Dallas is -125 on the moneyline and Washington +105. On the alternate lines, the Cowboys are -1 (-118) and -1.5 (-110). The Redskins are 5-6 against the spread (3-2 on road) and 7-4 "over/under" (4-1 on road). The Cowboys are 5-6 ATS (2-4 at home) and 5-6 O/U (2-4 at home).
The Redskins are 7-1 ATS in their past eight vs. November. They are 1-6 ATS in their past seven after a win. The Cowboys are 5-2 ATS in their past seven vs. teams with a losing record. They are 0-4 ATS in their previous four on Thursday. The over is 14-3 in Washington's past 17 vs. teams with a losing record. It's 9-3 in their past 12 vs. the NFC East. The under is 4-1 in Dallas' previous five vs. the NFC East. The over is 4-0 in the past four meetings. The road team has covered seven straight.
Redskins at Cowboys Betting Prediction
Dallas goes for a second straight season sweep. In Week 8, Elliott was a monster in a 33-19 win over the Redskins with 150 yards rushing and two scores on a career-high 33 carries. The Cowboys rode their horse in a very rainy game. Washington turned it over three times and had a field-goal try blocked that led to a Dallas touchdown. Cousins threw for 263 yards and a TD, but his pick was returned for a score and he lost a fumble.
I'm going to back Dallas one more time here before I jump off the bandwagon for good. Prescott has to be better than this, right? And when you get a home team without giving any points, that's always nice. Go under the total.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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