Dallas Cowboys (9-4) at New York Giants (4-9)
The Cowboys are 9-4 and rank 5th in the NFL in point differential and they have done so despite some key absences. Starting quarterback Dak Prescott (1 game), each of their top-3 wide receivers Amari Cooper (2 games), CeeDee Lamb (1 game), and Michael Gallup (7 games), each of their top-3 offensive linemen Tyron Smith (3 games), Zack Martin (1 game), and La’El Collins (5 games), and their two best pure edge defenders DeMarcus Lawrence (10 games) and Randy Gregory (5 games) have all missed time and, in fact, last week was the Cowboys’ first game of the season where each of the aforementioned each players were all active.
Unfortunately, that did not last, as Tyron Smith left mid-game, but the Cowboys still held on to win by a touchdown over a competitive Washington team and, though Smith is out this week, it’s not bad timing for the Cowboys, as their opponents this week and dealing with a much worse situation. Already a much worse team than the Cowboys, the Giants will be very short-handed this week. The most notable absence is starting quarterback Daniel Jones, who will be replaced by Mike Glennon, who struggled mightily in relief of an injured Jones against the Cowboys earlier this year, and possibly by Jake Fromm, a signing from the Colts’ practice squad who has been with the team for two and a half weeks and has thrown zero career passes, yet reportedly might get into this game for the Giants.
However, the bigger side of concern for the Giants from an absence standpoint is their defense, which has been the more passable unit this season. Already without top linebacker Blake Martinez, top cornerback Adoree Jackson, and starting safety Jabrill Peppers, the Giants are now without their other starting safety Xavier McKinney, promising fill-in cornerback Aaron Robinson, valuable rotational edge defender Oshane Ximines, and possibly stud defensive lineman Leonard Williams, probably their best defensive player overall. In their current state, the Giants are legitimately one of the worst few teams in the league, while the Cowboys could still be considered one of the better teams, even without Smith.
This line is high at Dallas -10.5, but my calculated line currently has the Cowboys favored by 14.5 even if Leonard Williams plays and I don’t see this line getting any lower, especially since the Giants have had five COVID positives this week to just one for Dallas, meaning they are much more likely to have a bigger outbreak within the next couple days before gametime. This isn’t a big bet, but it’s one of the few I’m comfortable locking in right now, given all of the uncertainty, and it’s possible I end up increasing this play if the Giants lose Williams or others and/or we get favorable line movement.
Dallas Cowboys 30 New York Giants 13
Pick against the spread: Dallas -10.5