Dallas Cowboys at Tennessee Titans: 2022 Week 17 NFL Pick

Dallas Cowboys (11-4) at Tennessee Titans (7-8)

The Titans have collapsed in recent weeks, losing five straight after a 7-3 start. That’s not all that surprising though, as the Titans’ wins were never that impressive. None of the Titans’ wins came against teams that currently have a winning record and almost all came by slim margins of victory. Only two of the Titans’ wins have come by more than a touchdown and neither win was as impressive as that suggests, as they needed a defensive touchdown to push the margin to 9 against the Colts, while their 10-point win over the Packers came against a team in a terrible spot, playing on a short week after an overtime game, a spot in which teams are just 2-22 ATS all-time. Meanwhile, the Titans’ seven losses have come by a combined 89 points, leading to an underwhelming -43 point differential, and they rank just 24th in DVOA.

Making matters worse, the Titans have been among the most injury plagued teams in the league, missing several starters on both sides of the ball in recent weeks, and this week is the most short-handed they’ve been, as they are resting anyone who has any sort of injury in what is actually a meaningless game for the Titans, whose playoff chances are not affected at all by the outcome of this game, with a wild card spot out of reach and the division to be decided by the Titans’ matchup with the Jaguars next week.

In total, the Titans will be missing starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill, four starters on the offensive line, Taylor Lewan, Ben Jones, Nate Davis, and Nicholas Petit-Frere, feature back Derrick Henry, stud interior defender Jeffery Simmons, their top-3 edge defenders Denico Autry, Bud Dupree, and Harold Landry, starting linebackers Zach Cunningham and David Long, expected starting cornerbacks Caleb Farley and Kristian Fulton, and talented safety Amani Hooker, giving them a SIC score of 53.4 which will almost definitely be the lowest in the league this week. 

The relatively healthy Cowboys, on the other hand, are at 86.4 and enter this game 4th in DVOA, so this is a big mismatch. The oddsmakers have pushed this line all the time to favoring Dallas by 12.5 as a result of the Titans’ injuries though, so we’re not getting any line value with the Cowboys. However, I still am going to take the Cowboys for pick ‘em purposes because the Titans’ players who do play may be less motivated than they otherwise would be in a game that doesn’t matter and that the coaching staff is treating like it doesn’t matter, resting players who would otherwise play. There’s not nearly enough here for the Cowboys to be worth betting, but they should be the better side against the spread this week.

Dallas Cowboys 23 Tennessee Titans 10

Pick against the spread: Dallas -12.5

Confidence: None

Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys: 2022 Week 16 NFL Pick

Philadelphia Eagles (13-1) at Dallas Cowboys (10-4)

The Eagles have lost quarterback and likely MVP favorite Jalen Hurts for this game with injury, but all hope is not lost in this critical divisional battle in Dallas, for several reasons. For one, the Eagles are far more than just Jalen Hurts. As well as Hurts has played, this team is 13-1, ranks 1st in point differential (+143), and 3rd in schedule adjusted efficiency (+6.29), and they could not have done that without a strong supporting cast. In fact, in terms of my roster rankings, the Eagles actually have the most non-quarterback talent of any team in the league.

The Eagles’ talented supporting cast is in large part due to the fact that, even with Hurts out, the Eagles are still one of the healthier teams in the league, with 20 of their expected 22 starters on offense and defense playing this week, including talented tight end Dallas Goedert, who is notably making his return from a 5-game absence this week. Given how late in the season it is, that’s remarkably healthy. The Eagles also have one of the best backup quarterbacks in the league in Gardner Minshew, who is a better option than several other regular starters around the league. 

Between having a starting caliber backup and a dominant supporting cast, the Eagles should still have more than enough talent to at least compete with the Cowboys in this game, ranking 3rd in the NFL in my roster rankings even with Hurts out, actually ahead of the Cowboys, who rank 7th in my roster rankings, as well as ranking 9th in schedule adjusted efficiency (+3.17). The Eagles are also more likely to play harder in this game than the Cowboys, as good teams tend to do when forced to play with a backup quarterback. 

The Cowboys, meanwhile, will have another game four days after this one on Thursday Night Football, a spot in which favorites cover at just a 43.2% rate, and they may relax a little bit against a backup quarterback, which they can’t afford to do, given how talented the rest of the Eagles’ roster is. Despite that, the Cowboys are 4.5-point favorites in this game, a pretty high number, given that about 3 out of 10 games are decided by four points or fewer. My calculated line actually has this as a toss up, so I love the value we’re getting with the Eagles, who still have a great chance to win and pull the upset even with Minshew. The Eagles are my Pick of the Week.

Philadelphia Eagles 24 Dallas Cowboys 23 Upset Pick +180

Pick against the spread: Philadelphia +4.5

Confidence: Pick of the Week

Dallas Cowboys at Jacksonville Jaguars: 2022 Week 15 NFL Pick

Dallas Cowboys (10-3) at Jacksonville Jaguars (5-8)

The Jaguars are in a good spot in this game, with the Cowboys likely to get caught looking forward to a much bigger game against the Eagles next week, but this line only favors the Cowboys by four points, so we’re not getting great line value with the Jaguars, who have lost by more than four points in seven of their eight losses. The Cowboys, meanwhile, rank 7th in schedule adjusted efficiency, five points ahead of the 19th ranked Jaguars, even though the Cowboys were without starting quarterback Dak Prescott for five games. I’m still taking the Jaguars, but this is a low confidence pick.

Dallas Cowboys 27 Jacksonville Jaguars 24

Pick against the spread: Jacksonville +4

Confidence: Low

Houston Texans at Dallas Cowboys: 2022 Week 14 NFL Pick

Houston Texans (1-10-1) at Dallas Cowboys (9-3)

This line is high, favoring the Cowboys over the Texans by 17 points. The Texans have been the worst team in the league this season, ranking dead last in schedule adjusted efficiency (6.5 points below average) and dead last in point differential (-99), but, as bad as they have been, they have only lost one game by more than 17 points and that was an 18-point loss, so the Texans certainly have a chance to cover this huge spread, even against a Cowboys team that is one of the best in the NFL. 

The Texans will also benefit from going back to their original starting quarterback Davis Mills, after starting terrible backup quarterback Kyle Allen for their past two games, an attempt to spark this team that backfired in a big way, leading to losses of 15 points and 13 points in the past two weeks. There’s not nearly enough here for the Texans to be worth betting and my calculated line barely gives us any line value with them, with the Cowboys favored by 16.5 points, but if I had to pick a side for pick ‘em purposes, it would be Houston.

Dallas Cowboys 30 Houston Texans 14

Pick against the spread: Houston +17

Confidence: None

Indianapolis Colts at Dallas Cowboys: 2022 Week 13 NFL Pick

Indianapolis Colts (4-7-1) at Dallas Cowboys (8-3)

This is one of my lowest confidence picks of the week. This line is at Dallas -10.5, which is right where my calculated line has it, favoring the Colts just slightly against the spread at this number, and there also aren’t any situational trends affecting either side. I’m taking the Colts purely for pick ‘em purposes, hoping they can at least get a backdoor cover against a big spread, but I can’t be at all confident in either side in this one.

Dallas Cowboys 23 Indianapolis Colts 13

Pick against the spread: Indianapolis +10.5

Confidence: None

New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys: 2022 Week 12 NFL Pick

New York Giants (7-3) at Dallas Cowboys (7-3)

A week ago on the early line, the Cowboys were 6.5 point favorites, but this line has since shifted all the way to 10, as a result of the Cowboys’ blowout win in Minnesota and the Giants’ blowout loss in Detroit. Normally I like to fade significant week-to-week line movements like this because they tend to be an overreaction to a single week of play, but in this case I think the line movement is justified, not only because of the results of last week, but also because the Giants are now missing their two best cornerbacks, Adoree Jackson and Fabian Moreau, as well as several offensive linemen. On top of that, I think the line was too low at 6.5 to begin with.

The Giants are 7-3, but that’s a very misleading record. In addition to their blowout loss to a sub .500 Lions team last week, their second multi-score loss of the season, the Giants’ seven wins have all come by one score, with just two coming against teams that are currently better than 4-7. As a result, the Giants have just a +1 point differential, despite a relatively easy schedule. The Cowboys have the same record at 7-3, but they have a +84 point differential (2nd best in the NFL), despite facing a tougher schedule. In terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, the Cowboys rank 7th, 4.5 points above average, while the Giants rank 27th, 4.5 points below average.

That’s despite the fact that the Cowboys were without starting quarterback Dak Prescott for five games earlier this season. He has since returned and the Cowboys are now relatively healthy overall, while the Giants are going the other way injury wise, leading to the Cowboys having a 12-point edge in my roster rankings. Given that, we’re actually still getting some line value with the Cowboys, as my calculated line favors them by 14 points. I wouldn’t bet on the Cowboys at 10, but if this line drops down to 9.5, they would be worth betting at that number and, either way, the Cowboys are the better side for pick ‘em purposes.

Dallas Cowboys 27 New York Giants 13

Pick against the spread: Dallas -10

Confidence: Low

Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings: 2022 Week 11 NFL Pick

Dallas Cowboys (6-3) at Minnesota Vikings (8-1)

The Vikings are 8-1, but they have won all seven of their one-score games and have won the turnover battle by 8 (2nd best in the NFL), both of which are not sustainable long-term. They beat the Bills last week, but Buffalo was missing several key defenders and, despite that, the Vikings lost the first down rate battle and yards per play battle by 9.04% and 0.66 respectively, needing to win the turnover battle by two and to score a defensive touchdown to barely win in overtime. 

Even with that win taken into account, the Vikings still rank just 19th in schedule adjusted efficiency, about one point below average, which is much more predictive than turnover margin. The Cowboys are a couple games worse in the standings, but rank about 3.5 points above average in schedule adjusted efficiency, 8th in the league, even though starting quarterback Dak Prescott missed five games with injury. The public and the oddsmakers both seem to understand that though, leading to the Vikings actually being 2-point home underdogs in this game.

With that in mind, I actually like the Vikings for pick ‘em purposes. While there is a significant gap between these two teams in schedule adjusted efficiency, my roster rankings have them much closer together, with the Vikings still among the most talented teams in the league, despite what the statistics say, and I think the Vikings could play with a chip on their shoulder being underdogs yet again. There isn’t enough here for the Vikings to be worth betting against the spread, but they seem like the right side for pick ‘em purposes and a small bet on the money line at +105 makes sense as well, as the Vikings should be considered no worse than 50/50 to win this game here at home.

Minnesota Vikings 24 Dallas Cowboys 23 Upset Pick +105

Pick against the spread: Minnesota +1.5

Confidence: Low

Dallas Cowboys at Green Bay Packers: 2022 Week 10 NFL Pick

Dallas Cowboys (6-2) at Green Bay Packers (3-6)

This game is a tough call. On one hand, the Packers have been close to an automatic bet at home with Aaron Rodgers in his career, going 47-21 ATS in games he starts and finishes, including 5-1 ATS as home underdogs, as he is this week, by 4.5 points against the Dallas Cowboys. On the other hand, this line makes sense even with the Packers’ significant homefield advantage and the Cowboys are also in a great spot as big road favorites after a bye, with road favorites of more than a field goal covering at a 63.3% rate all-time after a bye.

Coming into the season, I was expecting the Packers to regress. The Packers went 13-4 last season, but finished just 10th in point differential and 11th in overall efficiency, despite an MVP season from Aaron Rodgers who, as good as he is, was no guarantee to play at quite the same level in 2022, now in his age 39 season. Add in the loss of by far their top wide receiver Davante Adams this off-season and some regression was to be expected from them, especially on offense.

On offense, the Packers have fallen from 4th to 16th in schedule adjusted offensive efficiency and, while their defense has remained middle of the pack, ranking 15th in schedule adjusted defensive efficiency, after ranking 17th last season, they’re likely is likely to fall off significantly on that side of the ball going forward, due to the long-term absence of two of their best defensive players, De’vondre Campbell and Rashan Gary, who are among the best players in the league at their respective positions. 

The Packers also have continued to struggle on special teams, ranking 30th in special teams efficiency, after ranking dead last a year ago and, all in all, the Packers are already 3-6 and rank just 22nd in schedule adjusted efficiency, 2.5 points below average, which could easily get worse going forward, as injuries pile up. The Cowboys, meanwhile, rank 5th in schedule adjusted efficiency, 4.5 points above average, even though quarterback Dak Prescott missed five and a half games with injury, which he has since returned from.

Even factoring in five points for homefield advantage for the Packers, which is several points more than the standard, my calculated line is still Dallas -4, which is right around where this line is, at Dallas -4.5 in reality. In normal circumstances, I would probably take the Packers for a no confidence pick, but the Cowboys do have a strong trend on their side so I am going to take them for pick ‘em purposes. There isn’t nearly enough here for the Cowboys to be worth betting on, but, even with the Packers’ recent home dominance, no one should be surprised if the well-rested and relatively healthy Cowboys come into Green Bay and beat this mediocre and banged up Packers team relatively easily.

Dallas Cowboys 30 Green Bay Packers 24

Pick against the spread: Dallas -4.5

Confidence: Low

Chicago Bears at Dallas Cowboys: 2022 Week 8 NFL Pick

Chicago Bears (3-4) at Dallas Cowboys (5-2)

The Bears pulled the huge upset against the Patriots last week, but they still rank just 25th in schedule adjusted efficiency, about 4 points below average, and my roster rankings have them even worse, about 6 points below average. The Cowboys, meanwhile, are 5-2 despite inconsistent quarterback play, led by a defense that ranks 1st in schedule adjusted efficiency, and they should get a better game from Dak Prescott this week, in his second game back from a thumb injury that he suffered week one and that cost him 5 games.

This line is still pretty high, despite the Bears’ win last week, favoring the Cowboys by 9.5 points, but my calculated line has the Cowboys favored by even more, at 11, and the Cowboys are in a good spot as well, ahead of a bye, as home favorites of 6 points or more cover at a 63.3% rate before a bye. The Cowboys are worth at least a small bet at 9.5 and if Cowboys’ top safety Malik Hooker, who is highly questionable after not practicing all week, ends up playing and this line doesn’t move up, I will likely increase this to a high confidence pick.

Dallas Cowboys 27 Chicago Bears 13

Pick against the spread: Dallas -9.5

Confidence: Medium

Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys: 2022 Week 7 NFL Pick

Detroit Lions (1-4) at Dallas Cowboys (4-2)

The Lions began the season as the highest scoring team in the league through 4 games, averaging 35.0 points per game, before being shut out in week 5 against the Patriots. The common thinking seems to be that the Lions’ dominant offensive start was legitimate and that they just happened to run into a dominant defense in week 5, but I don’t think that’s correct. Even with the Patriots’ game taken into account, the Lions still rank 3rd in the NFL in points per game at 28.0, but in terms of first down rate, which is much more predictive than points, the Lions rank just 13th, 18th when adjusted for strength of schedule.

That’s still pretty solid, but it’s a big concern for a Lions team that has one of the worst defenses in the league and relies on their offense’s ability to keep up in shootouts to win games. A year after ranking 30th in defensive efficiency, about 4 points below average, the Lions have somehow been even worse this season, ranking dead last, about 5.5 points below average, especially struggling since losing two of their better players, safety Tracy Walker and edge defender Charles Harris, due to injuries. My roster rankings tell the same story, with the Lions’ defense being 5 points below average without Walker and Harris. Overall, both my roster rankings and schedule adjusted efficiency have the Lions about 5 points below average overall as a team, making them one of the worst in the league, despite an impressive points total.

With that in mind, I like the Cowboys a lot this week. Many thought the Cowboys’ season was over when they lost quarterback Dak Prescott for an extended period of time in a week 1 blowout loss to the Buccaneers, but the Cowboys’ defense has been dominant this season, ranking 2nd in schedule adjusted efficiency, and, led by that defense, backup Mike White won 4 of 5 games in Prescott’s absence. With Prescott set to return to the lineup for a 4-2 team with a dominant defense, the Cowboys are in position to be a serious contender going forward. 

I’m a little wary of betting on the Cowboys in Prescott’s first game back, especially considering how he struggled in his first game back from a shoulder injury last season, and the Cowboys have offensive problems beyond Prescott, ranking just 24th in schedule adjusted offensive efficiency thus far this season, but, even with Prescott factored in at less than 100%, the Cowboys still rank 4 points above average in my roster rankings, 9 points ahead of the Lions. 

In addition to how well their defense has played thus far this season, the Cowboys also rank 4th in schedule adjusted special teams efficiency. Given how big the gap between them and the Lions is, we are getting significant line value with the Cowboys as mere 6.5-point home favorites, with my calculated line being Dallas -11. This isn’t a big play, but the Cowboys are worth a bet this week if you can get this line at less than a touchdown.

Dallas Cowboys 26 Detroit Lions 17

Pick against the spread: Dallas -6.5

Confidence: Medium