Dallas Cowboys (2-6) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5)
The Cowboys have lost 6 straight games since losing Tony Romo to a broken collarbone week 2. Romo is expected back next week, when he’s first eligible to come off of injured reserve, but it could be too late. It will be too late if they lose here in Tampa Bay. Fortunately, Tampa Bay is arguably the easiest opponent they’ll face this season. They rank 30th in rate of moving the chains differential and have an awful homefield advantage, going 16-35 ATS (1-3 ATS this season) at home since 2009. Given that, the Cowboys should probably be favored by a little bit more than the point they’re favored by here.
It might sound weird to say that a team that has lost 6 straight games should be favored on the road, but the Buccaneers have just been so bad at home this season (getting outscored 142-93). Besides, the Cowboys are better than their record, ranking 19th in rate of moving the chains differential. Of their 6 losses, 4 have come by less than a touchdown. They’ll miss Sean Lee with injury this week, but getting Dez Bryant back to 100%, like he appears to be after last week’s performance, should help cancel that out a little bit. Matt Cassel isn’t the best quarterback in the world, but the Cowboys have a strong offensive supporting cast around him. The Buccaneers are missing Vincent Jackson and, even if this turns into a shootout, I think the Cowboys can still keep up and win against Tampa Bay’s awful defense.
It’s tough to love the Cowboys as long as the line is between a field goal either way though, as about 1 in 6 games are decided by exactly a field goal. On top of that, the line has been alternating. If the Buccaneers are underdogs, it puts them in a good spot, as home underdogs are 75-52 ATS off of a loss as home underdogs. However, if the Cowboys are underdogs, they’re in a good spot because the Cowboys are 20-11 ATS as road underdogs since 2009. Basically, I see this as a field goal game. I expect the Cowboys to win, but not enough to put money on them without field goal protection.
Dallas Cowboys 27 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24
Pick against the spread: Dallas -1