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Tennessee Titans vs. Dallas Cowboys Pick

by | Nov 5, 2018 | nfl

Tennessee Titans (3-4 SU, 4-3 ATS) vs. Dallas Cowboys (3-4 SU, 3-4 ATS)
Date/Time: Monday, November 5, 7:15 PM EST
Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Tx
TV: ESPN
By Keith Allen, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com

Point Spread: Ten +6½ / Dal -6½
Over/Under Total: 41

The Tennessee Titans invade Big D for a week 9 Monday Night battle with the Cowboys. Both teams will be fresh off week 8 byes and bring in 3-4 records to this prime time match up. This game is critical for both teams to get a “W” and start the second half of their season on the right foot, but the play is to take the Titans and the 6½ points. Here are 3 reasons.

The Cowboys’ Offense Will be Stifled

America’s team’s offense has been a major disappointment for much of the year. They have only eclipsed 20 points in 2 games this year, and are averaging right on 20 points per game. They are 26th in the league in yards per play and 28th in passing yards. Ezekiel Elliott has been the lone bright spot for the Cowboy offense, averaging almost 90 rushing yards and 115 total yards per game, but the Redskins loaded the box in week 7 and held Elliott to 33 rushing yards on 15 carries. The offensive line is no longer the dominant unit they were a few years ago, as evidenced by QB Dak Prescott being the 6th most sacked passer in the league. Amari Cooper was acquired from the Raiders to jump start the passing game with the hopes that opponents will not be able to load up the box to stop Elliott as the Redskins did in week 7. However, Cooper averaged less than 50 yards per contest while averaging less than 13 yards per catch.

The Titans stop unit will match up well with Jason Garrett’s offense. The Titans pass D ranks number 9 in the league in passing yards allowed per game. The Titan cornerback trio of Logan Ryan, Malcom Butler and Adoree’ Jackson will be able to play man to man and shut down the Cowboys’ weak receiving crew and thereby allow the balance of the defense to focus on Elliott. Tennessee allows only 4.1 yards per carry to opposing ground games, but should be able to sell out to limit Elliott’s yards on the ground. They will follow the game plan the Redskins and Texans set out in the last 2 losses suffered by the Cowboys. This will put the game in Prescott’s hands. The Cowboys are bottom 3 in the league at converting 3rd downs this year, converting just over 30%. Prescott is throwing for less than 200 yards per game, and Cooper shouldn’t be expected to move the needle much on this. This is the formula that has shut down Dallas all year, and will limit their offensive production again this week.

Dallas will be challenged to put up points against this stingy Titan defense, and should not be expected to exceed their 20 point season average. Covering the 6½ point spread while scoring 20 or less points is even more challenging.

Tennessee’s Offense Will Keep them in the Game

As bad as the Cowboys’ offensive stats are, the Titan’s stats are worse. Tennessee is averaging only 15 points per game, and one of only three teams in the league that are below 5 yards per play. However, they have been playing much of the year with back-up tackles, but starters Taylor Lewan and Jack Conklin will be the healthiest they have been for the Dallas game. In addition, quarterback Marcus Mariota has been injured much of the year which has impacted his performance and forced Blaine Gabbert to start 2 games. Both starting tackles were on the field in the pre-bye game against the Chargers, Mariota was the healthiest he had been since week 1 and it was the Titans’ best offensive performance of the year. They rushed for 5 yards per carry, and Mariota complete 24 of 32 passes for 237 yards. Dion Lewis continues to be the most effective player on the Titan offense, averaging just under 70 scrimmage yards per game and matches up well with the Cowboy linebackers.

The Dallas defense has been a very pleasant surprise for Cowboy fans. The team has allowed less than 18 points per game which is the fewest points in the league. They are 5th in yards per play against and 3rd in passing yards allowed. However, they are only 19th in the league in sacks, and have only generated 6 turnovers on the year. Some of their strong defensive numbers are a result of their opponents being conservative on offense to not give the Cowboys a short field. Tennessee will utilize the same strategy, moving the ball and getting points, but also playing the field position game to make Dallas drive the length of the field to score.

6½ Points Are Worth a Pot of Gold

There is a lot of value on the Titans getting 6½ points in this game. The line opened at 4 and has been bet up to 6½, meanwhile the total has been bet down from 42 to 41. The game sets up as a low scoring field position battle where points will be very scarce.

Both teams are 3-4 and have very similar stats. Each has beaten the Jaguars, and the Titans have beaten the Texans and Eagles while the Cowboys have only beaten the Lions and Giants so the Titans have a better resume. If we generously give Dallas 3 points for their home field advantage, the line means the Cowboys are 3½ points better than Tennessee on a neutral field. I don’t see what the Dallas has done to make bettors think they are this much better than Tennessee. I would think these teams are closer to Pick-Em on a neutral field and the Titans could easily win this game.

Gameday Updates: The Cowboys fired OL coach Paul Alexander. Marc Colombo has been named as his replacement. TE Geoff Swaim didn’t practice Friday and is doubtful for Week 9 MNF. Cowboys DE David Irving suffered a high ankle sprain in practice Thursday and will miss multiple weeks. Newly acquired WR Amari Cooper will see significant snaps in tonight’s game per the Cowboys coaching staff. Pokes RG Zack Martin is still listed as questionable with a knee. Zeke Elliott’s effectiveness could take a hit tonight if Martin misses.

Despite being limited in practice this week, Titans WR Corey Davis is expected to play. Lastly, WR Tajae Sharpe appears to have surpassed Taywan Taylor on the depth chart.

Play the Titans +6½

Tennessee is the right the side for this game. 5 of their 7 games have been decided by less than a field goal, and 3 of the Cowboys games have been decided by less than a field goal. About 65% of NFL games are decided by 6 points or less, and this game sets up as one of the 65%. Getting 6½ points with a team that has a good chance to win the game is a gift. Play the Titans.

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