Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins: 2018 Week 7 NFL Pick

Dallas Cowboys (3-3) at Washington Redskins (3-2)

There has been a lot of talk about the Cowboys’ offensive struggles, but they showed last week that they can still be a tough opponent because of their strong defense, pulling an upset at home over the Jaguars in blowout fashion by a final score of 40-7. Former safety Byron Jones has thrived since moving back to cornerback. Their linebacking corps has played at a high level even without the injured Sean Lee, thanks to strong play by young linebackers Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith. And their defensive line has been solid and will likely continue to get better with top interior pass rusher David Irving now in his 2nd game back after returning from suspension.

Their strong defense gets another boost this week, with Lee expected to return from a 3-game absence. Lee was not missed as much as he normally is, as the Cowboys are much better on that side of the ball than normal, but he’ll still be a welcome re-addition for this team. On the other side, the Redskins have some major injury problems with their offensive skill position talent. Their top-2 wide receivers Paul Richardson and Jamison Crowder are both out with injury, while passing down back Chris Thompson, who would likely pick up a lot of the slack with Richardson and Crowder out, is highly questionable after missing last week with injury and not getting in a full practice all week.

Unfortunately, we’ve lost all line value with the Cowboys, as this line has shifted from -3 on the early line to even this week. It’s only 3 points, but about 1 in 4 games are decided by 3 points or fewer, so it’s a significant line movement. I have this line calculated at Washington -1, so we’re actually getting a little bit of line value with the host, although not nearly enough to bet on it. The Cowboys have also been a strong road team in recent years, going 36-31 (38-29 ATS) on the road since 2010, as opposed to 35-34 at home, though they haven’t looked good yet on the road this year. I’m taking the Redskins for pick ‘em purposes, but this is one of my lowest confidence picks of the week.

Washington Redskins 17 Dallas Cowboys 16

Pick against the spread: Washington PK

Confidence: None

Jacksonville Jaguars at Dallas Cowboys: 2018 Week 6 NFL Pick

Jacksonville Jaguars (3-2) at Dallas Cowboys (2-3)

This line was Jacksonville -2 last week on the early line, but bizarrely it has since shifted to Jacksonville -3.5 and it’s not clear why. The Cowboys narrowly lost in Houston last week, while the Jaguars lost pretty easily in Kansas City, so nothing from last week’s results would seem to justify a significant movement like that. A point and a half might not seem like much, but about a sixth of games are decided by exactly 3 points, so this line moved across a very key number for seemingly no good reason other than heavy action on Jacksonville.

This line is the equivalent of Dallas being -9.5 in Jacksonville, which is what the Jets were a couple weeks back and the Cowboys are definitely more talented than the Jets. The Jaguars were also just -3 week 1 in New York against a Giants team that the Cowboys beat the following week fairly easily and have outplayed since that game. Even if this line was still at -2, we’d still be getting some line value with the Cowboys, as I have this line calculated at even.

A lot is made about the Cowboys’ offensive struggles, but they’ve had a top-10 defense this year and continue to play well despite the loss of linebacker Sean Lee due to injury. Ex-safety Byron Jones has broken out since being moved to cornerback, while the Cowboys’ young linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch have played more than well enough to hold down the fort in Lee’s absence. The Jaguars have offensive issues without Leonard Fournette and down to their 3rd string left tackle, so the Cowboys can definitely keep this one close and even possibly pull off the upset. The Cowboys have not been a good home team in recent years (24-43-1 ATS since 2010), which is why this isn’t a bigger bet, but the Cowboys are worth a bet at +3.5.

Jacksonville Jaguars 20 Dallas Cowboys 19

Pick against the spread: Dallas +3.5

Confidence: Medium

Dallas Cowboys at Houston Texans: 2018 Week 5 NFL Pick

Dallas Cowboys (2-2) at Houston Texans (1-3)

The Texans picked up their first win of the season last win in Indianapolis, but they’ve still gotten off to a disappointing start to their season. Expected to be Super Bowl contenders, the Texans are just 1-3 with their only win coming in overtime against a team that’s 1-4. The Texans have been better than their record and Deshaun Watson has continued to play at a high level in his 2nd season in the league, but the Texans have struggled to pass protect and to run the ball and their defense has been underwhelming.

This line suggests the Texans are a little bit better than the Cowboys, but I think that’s backwards. The Cowboys probably aren’t going to make the playoffs in the loaded NFC, but they’re not a bad team either. They’re without Sean Lee with injury, but young linebackers Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith have played well in his absence and they get their top interior pass rusher David Irving back from suspension this week.

The Cowboys have also been a good road team in recent years, going 36-30 on the road since 2010 (+0.09 points per game), while going just 34-34 at home (+1.19 points per game). The Cowboys have a national fanbase that typically fills road stadiums pretty well and I would expect a lot of Cowboys fans at this game in Houston. I would only give the Texans about a 1-1.5 points for homefield advantage this week rather than the typical 3, so I have this line calculated at even. The Cowboys are worth a play at +3.5 and have a good chance to win straight up.

Dallas Cowboys 24 Houston Texans 23 Upset Pick +150

Pick against the spread: Dallas +3.5

Confidence: Medium

Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys: 2018 Week 4 NFL Pick

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

This is another one I’m torn on. One one hand, the Cowboys are the slightly better team and are more likely to be focused, as the Lions could be a little flat a week after such a big victory over the Patriots. On the other hand, the Cowboys are missing linebacker Sean Lee, who they always miss significantly when he’s hurt, and they have had very little homefield advantage in recent years. Though they are 36-30 on the road since 2010, outscoring opponents by an average of 0.09 points per game, they are just 33-34 at home, outscoring opponents by an average of 1.19 points per game, suggesting homefield hasn’t been worth a full point to them in recent years. I’m taking the Cowboys, but this is a no confidence pick and could easily be a push.

Dallas Cowboys 23 Detroit Lions 20

Pick against the spread: Dallas -3

Confidence: None

Dallas Cowboys at Seattle Seahawks: 2018 Week 3 NFL Pick

Dallas Cowboys (1-1) at Seattle Seahawks (0-2)

At one point I considered these two teams potential playoff teams in the NFC, but they’ve dealt with a lot of injuries early on in the season. The Seahawks get stud middle linebacker Bobby Wagner back from a one week absence this week, but remain without stud outside linebacker KJ Wright and top receiver Doug Baldwin, two of their better players, while offensive linemen Ethan Pocic and Justin Britt are likely out this week and safety Earl Thomas reportedly may not play for personal reasons. The Cowboys, meanwhile, might get safety Xavier Woods for the first time this season, but remain without All-Pro center Travis Frederick, who is suffering from a rare illness. They’re also still missing top interior pass rusher David Irving, who was suspended for the first 4 games of the season.

I have these two teams exactly even in my roster rankings, suggesting we’re getting some line value with the Seahawks as mere 1.5 point favorites. However, I’m torn on this game for a couple reasons. For one, the Cowboys typically play pretty well on the road. While they are just 33-34 at home with an average point differential of +1.19 since 2010, they are 36-29 on the road with an average point differential of 0.26 on the road, not even a point less than at home. On top of that, the Seahawks are in a tough spot, playing their first home game of the season in week 3. Teams tend to struggle in that spot, going 26-51 ATS over the past 30 seasons. I’m taking the Seahawks, but would not recommend betting this game.

Seattle Seahawks 17 Dallas Cowboys 15

Pick against the spread: Seattle -1.5

Confidence: None

New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys: 2018 Week 2 NFL Pick

New York Giants (0-1) at Dallas Cowboys (0-1)

The Cowboys are one of the more shorthanded teams in the league right now. A promising young defense is missing it’s best interior pass rusher David Irving with a suspension and one of it’s most promising young players safety Xavier Woods with injury, while their offense is not nearly the same without All-Pro center Travis Frederick, who remains out indefinitely with a rare illness. Dak Prescott has not shown the ability to play well when he doesn’t have a strong supporting cast and, with the offensive line being a shell of it’s 2016 self and the receiving corps losing both Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, he does not have a strong supporting cast right now and the defense isn’t good enough to compensate.

The Cowboys lost their opener 16-8 in Carolina last week, against an also banged up Carolina team that should have been beatable for the Cowboys, who typically play well on the road. Now the Cowboys return home, but they haven’t had much homefield advantage in recent years. While they’ve done well on the road as a result of a national fanbase, going 36-29 on the road (37-28 ATS) since 2010, they are just 32-34 at home (24-42 ATS) over that same time period.

Fortunately for the Cowboys, they don’t have a tough opponent this week, with the Giants coming to town. Casual bettors seem to think the Giants are much improved this year because of the return of Odell Beckham and the addition of Saquon Barkley, but they still have major problems on the offensive line and at quarterback and their defense is not nearly as good as it was when they made the postseason in 2016, especially with Olivier Vernon out for the start of the season. This line is only 3 points, so the Cowboys should be able to cover, but I wouldn’t recommend betting them.

Dallas Cowboys 26 New York Giants 20

Pick against the spread: Dallas -3

Confidence: Low

Dallas Cowboys at Carolina Panthers: 2018 Week 1 NFL Pick

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

Confidence: Medium