Dallas Cowboys (0-0) at Carolina Panthers (0-0)
The Cowboys come into the season as shorthanded as any team in the league. The big loss is center Travis Frederick, who remains out indefinitely with a rare illness, but the Cowboys are also without safety Xavier Woods due to injury and will be without defensive tackle David Irving for the first 4 weeks of the season due to suspension. Fortunately, they are playing another shorthanded team this week, as the Panthers will be without left tackle Matt Kalil and cornerback Ross Cockrell due to injury and linebacker Thomas Davis due to suspension, while right tackle Daryl Williams is highly questionable after suffering a major knee injury in training camp and only returning to limited practices this week.
In addition to their injury situation, the Panthers also figure to not be as good as they were last season went they won 11 games. Many of their wins last season were close, as they went 8-1 in games decided by 8 points or fewer, and they also lost arguably their best offensive lineman, left guard Andrew Norwell, to the Jaguars in free agency. Even with everyone the Cowboys are missing, I still have them a few spots higher in my rankings than the Panthers, while this line suggests these two teams are more or less even.
The Cowboys are also about as good as anyone in the league away from home because they have such a national fanbase. While they are just 32-34 at home with an average point differential of +1.11 since 2010, they are 36-29 on the road with an average point differential of 0.39 on the road, suggesting homefield advantage hasn’t even been worth a point for them in recent years. As a result, they are 36-26 ATS on the road over that time period, including 5-2-1 ATS last season. I like their chances of covering this week.
Dallas Cowboys 24 Carolina Panthers 23 Upset Pick +130
Pick against the spread: Dallas +3