Cowboys vs. Colts Pick – Week 15
Dallas Cowboys (8-5 SU, 8-5 ATS) vs. Indianapolis Colts (7-6 SU, 6-6-1 ATS)
NFL Football Week 15
Date/Time: Sunday December 16th, 2018. 1:00PM (EST)
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium Indianapolis, I.N
By Jay Horne, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: DAL +3/IND -3 (Bovada Sportsbook)
Over/Under Total: 47
The Indianapolis Colts kept their playoff hopes alive last week with an impressive 24-21 road victory over the Houston Texans. The Colts offense overcame a stout Texans defense behind the arm of Andrew Luck who threw for 399 yards with 2 touchdowns and a pick. WR T.Y Hilton shined in the performance with 9 grabs for 199 yards as the Colts snapped Houston’s 9 game winning streak. Not only did the Colts keep their playoff hopes alive but they also kept some slim hopes of capturing the AFC South alive as well. More than anything, the Colts must keep finding ways to win over the next 3 weeks as they are in the middle of a razor thin battle for the final wildcard playoff spot in the AFC. This weekend the Colts return home for another tough match-up when they host the Dallas Cowboys at Lucas Oil Stadium as mere 3 point favorites.
Dallas Cowboys seeking 6th straight win and playoff berth
The Dallas Cowboys scored their 5th straight victory with a 29-23 overtime victory against the Eagles last week. Despite a pretty bad performance by quarterback Dak Prescott, WR Amari Cooper continued to shine in his new role in the Big D. Cooper caught 10 passes for 217 yards for 3 touchdowns including the game winner in overtime. On a day when Prescott missed many throws down the field and Ezekiel Elliott was not overly dominate, Cooper proved to be the difference. It was the 2nd enormous performance for the Cowboys new star wide receiver in the last several weeks. For those that remember the week 12 performance, Cooper caught 8 passes for 180 yards with 2 touchdowns to help lead the Cowboys to a victory over the Redskins.
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Cooper has lived up to every expectation and hope Dallas could have asked for in their questionable mid-October trade. However, the Cowboys receiver continues to come up with big plays and it has completely changed the entire offense. Now to be clear, Dallas does not have an all-world offense that is going to light up the scoreboard on a weekly basis. We know Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott is the focal point of their run heavy offense. The team also has a ton of confidence in their highly rated defense to keep opposing offenses in check. However what Cooper has done in a short period of time cannot be undermined as he has single handedly made opposing defenses respect the long ball which continues to benefit Elliott. Opposing defenses have not been able to stack the box as they were early in the year and it has opened up a lot of opportunities for the Cowboys offense. As a result, the Cowboys have turned their season completely around with 5 straight victories and they currently need just one additional win to clinch the NFC East.
Cowboys defense vs. Colts offense
The key match-up that will determine this week 15 showdown will be the Cowboys defense against the Colts offense. We know the Cowboys offense is going to lean heavily on Elliott and look for advantageous opportunities off the play-action. Even with Prescott missing several big passes last week, the Cowboys still found ways to score. I expect the same this week against a pretty average Colts defense. I don’t expect Dallas to do anything special here, they average right at 20-24 points nearly every week and I imagine that would be the expected range of output this week. The key to deciding the outcome will be the Colts offensive efficiency against this strong Cowboys defense.
Two weeks ago, the Cowboys defense shocked everyone by shutting down the New Orleans Saints in an unforeseen 13-10 victory. In many ways, it was the coming out party for the defense despite the fact they have played well for most of the year. Earlier in the season, the offense simply could not stay on the field. Now that the offense is having some success, the defense’s potential is becoming apparent. The Cowboys have a relentless pass rush with DE DeMarcus Lawrence and DE Randy Gregory, very good linebackers in Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch, and a secondary that is probably playing the best football of the season. This Cowboys defense will be tested at every level this week against the Colts offense. Quarterback Andrew Luck is the NFL’s best comeback story in 2018. Luck has been great completing 68% of his passes for more than 3,300 yards with 32 touchdowns and 12 picks. Fresh off a near 400 yard outing last week, Luck will take aim at possibly the softest aspect of this Cowboys defense via the secondary.
The questions are quite simple here. Will Luck have enough time to throw the football? If the Cowboys pass rush prevails, it will make things very tough for this offense who was just shut out two weeks ago against Jacksonville. If not, Luck will likely make the Cowboys defense pay. Everything with this offense surrounds Luck, so his protection will be the most important factor the Colts chances on Sunday. WR T.Y Hilton has been nearly match-up proof and TE Eric Ebron is emerging as a dangerous threat over the middle of the field. The Cowboys linebacking corps makes me believe Ebron will probably have the tougher match-up. However, Hilton is a game-changer and if he has a big game; the Cowboys could be in trouble. Cowboys cornerback Byron Jones is the defense’ top coverage corner but he typically stays on the left side of the field. Hilton moves all over the field and will also play several snaps out of the slot. Therefore, I believe there will be opportunities for Hilton if Luck has ample time to throw the football.
Cowboys vs. Colts betting trends
Despite the single blunder against Jacksonville, the Colts have also been hot winning 5 of their last 6 games. However, the Colts are just 3-5-1 ATS in their last 9 outings As stated earlier, Dallas has won their last 5 games and they have also covered the spread in each of those contests. The Cowboys have also won 6 of the last 9 meetings against the Colts SU. Both teams have trended towards the “under” with the Cowboys hitting the ‘under’ in 9 of their last 10 games on the road and the Colts hitting the ‘under’ in 14 of their last 20 games.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I believe the side is a risky bet. Both offenses have shown struggling tendencies. The Colts protection will be put to the test meanwhile Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott continues to be very mediocre in efficiency. It’s hard to tell which way the needle will swing on both sides of the ball. Instead, I think the under is the better play in the instance we see a little of both of those factors. Both defenses are arguably playing their best football of the year and I think this will be a low scoring output. Take the under 47!