Arizona Cardinals (3-2) at Dallas Cowboys (2-3)
I have been considering this as my Pick of the Week all week and, with good injury news coming in on Saturday, I think this makes the most sense of my top options this week, for several reasons. For one, I think this line is way off, favoring the Cardinals by 1.5 points on the road in Dallas, where the Cowboys will have something resembling a crowd in the stands. This line was at Dallas -3 a week ago and, while it’s certainly understandable that Dak Prescott’s injury would cause this line to move, there have been some other injury developments in this game since last week, with the Cardinals losing top edge defender and pass rusher Chandler Jones and the Cowboys likely to get top linebacker Leighton Vander Esch back from a 4-game absence, which is the injury news that solidified this pick for me.
As much as Prescott’s injury hurts the Cowboys, they at least have a capable experienced backup in Andy Dalton behind him, as opposed to the Cardinals, who severely lack pass rush talent without Jones, who was one of the best pass rushers in the game. Dalton has plenty of weapons around him on this offense and the Cardinals don’t have the edge defenders to take advantage of the Cowboys’ missing offensive tackles, so the Cowboys should still be able to move the ball with relative ease in this one. Meanwhile, the Cowboys defense should have a much better chance of slowing down the Cardinals with Vander Esch back in the lineup. I have the Cowboys about 1.5 points better than the Cardinals in my roster rankings, suggesting the Cowboys should be at least field goal favorites at home with some homefield advantage.
The Cowboys are also in a much better spot. While they also have an easy trip to Washington on deck, the Cardinals have to turn around and host the undefeated Seahawks in a major divisional game and they could easily look past the Cowboys as a result, especially with Dalton under center. Underdogs are 118-68 ATS since 2014 before being favorites when their opponent will next be favorites, including 11-2 ATS as home underdogs before being road favorites when their opponent will next be home underdogs. That should all be true here. Add in the additional motivation the Cowboys will have to silence doubters and win this one for Dak and I like their chances a lot in this one. Tampa Bay would probably be my Pick of the Week if not for Vander Esch, but the Cowboys are my top pick this week.
Dallas Cowboys 30 Arizona Cardinals 24 Upset Pick +100
Pick against the spread: Dallas +1.5
Confidence: Pick of the Week