Week 17 of the NFL season gets underway Thursday with a matchup between the Dallas Cowboys (-10, 40) and the Tennessee Titans from Nissan Stadium in Nashville. The Cowboys (11-4) are coming off a big victory over the Philadelphia Eagles and have won five of their past six. The Titans (7-8), meanwhile, have dropped five in a row.
What can we expect from a betting standpoint for Thursday night’s game?
Betting analysts Doug Kezirian, Tyler Fulghum, Joe Fortenbaugh, Anita Marks and Erin Dolan; fantasy and sports betting analysts Eric Moody and Andre Snellings; and ESPN Stats & Information’s Seth Walder, ESPN analyst Jason Fitz and Football Outsiders’ Aaron Schatz provide their top plays for the matchup.
Note: Lines from Caesars Sportsbook unless otherwise indicated.
The Cowboys (-10, 40) are double-digit favorites on the road at fading Tennessee on Thursday night. Double-digit home underdogs are 4-0 ATS this season with two outright upsets and 8-11 outright over the past two seasons. Will the Titans, losers of five straight, right the ship or are you rolling with the Cowboys fresh off their win over the Eagles?
Marks: I will lay the 10. Dallas not only has an opportunity to win the NFC East but possibly land the first seed in the NFC playoffs. The Cowboys will be all systems go, while the Titans have no motivation to play their starters in this game. The “all the marbles” game for Tennessee is next week against the Jaguars. Titans coach Mike Vrabel already has suggested resting starters this week. With starters, Tennessee has a -51 point differential in its past five games, while Dallas is +199 since Dak Prescott returned. I also will play an alternate spread at -13.5 at (+115).
Schatz: I’ll agree with everything that Anita says and add that Malik Willis is clearly not ready to play quarterback in the NFL. If we only looked at the weeks Willis has started for the Titans, they would rank as the worst pass offense in the league. The Cowboys would be favored to clear this spread even if the Titans had incentive to play hard. Without any incentive for the Titans, Cowboys -10 is the clear choice.
Fitz: The Titans have fallen apart this season, and even though we love to look squarely at quarterbacks in these situations, the offensive line is a huge part of the problem. The loss of left tackle Taylor Lewan is something the team has never bounced back from, and the play at that position has been dreadful. The Cowboys can and will exploit the line deficiencies to disrupt Willis (who is simply not prepared to be an NFL starting quarterback right now), and the inability for the Titans to score makes this a blowout. I love Dallas even with the big number, and I love the over simply because this will get out of control quickly.
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It has been an up-and-down year for Cowboys QB Dak Prescott. His props for Thursday night’s contest are 240.5 passing yards and 1.5 TDs (-140).
Marks: Prescott over 1.5 TDs and over 10.5 rushing yards. Dak looked great against a very good Eagles defense, averaging 10 yards per pass attempt and throwing for three scores. He has tossed three TDs in three of his past four outings. He also has rushed for 20 yards or more in his past three games. Tennessee’s defense has allowed 19 scoring passes this season.
Schatz: I like Prescott to go over those props against a Titans squad that ranks 27th in pass defense DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) this year. I don’t like the touchdown prop enough to play it with the -140 odds, and the yardage prop is only a slight value. Our projections suggest Prescott has a 58% chance to go over that yardage total and a 60% chance to go over the touchdown total.
Moody: Prescott is in a great spot to exceed 240.5 passing yards against the Titans. He has surpassed that number in six of his past seven games. Prescott has averaged 289.5 passing yards per game on the road since 2019. Over the past three games, the Titans’ secondary has allowed an average of 299.7 passing yards.
The Cowboys most likely will be the No . 5 seed in the NFC playoffs, playing on the road at the NFC South champion. They are currently +450 to win the NFC and +1100 to win the Super Bowl. Do either one of those offer value?
Schatz: No, I don’t think there’s any value here. Our DVOA ratings at Football Outsiders have Philadelphia as the best team in the conference for the entire year and San Francisco as the best team in weighted DVOA, giving more weight to recent games. Not only is Dallas not as good as those teams, the Cowboys also have the difficulty of needing three road wins to make the Super Bowl. Football Outsiders would put these odds closer to +750 (win NFC) and +1600 (win Super Bowl).
Is there anything else you are playing in this game?
Marks: Ezekiel Elliott TD (-115) and Malik Davis TD (+425). Tony Pollard is not expected to play on Thursday due to a thigh injury. If that holds true, I love the opportunities presented to both Elliott and third-string running back Davis. Elliott has been utilized hugely in the red zone and has scored a TD in eight straight games. Dallas coach Mike McCarthy said this week that Davis will be “featured,” and with garbage time expected, a Davis TD could be a sneaky good play!
Moody: CeeDee Lamb over 68.5 receiving yards, Cowboys over 25.5 points. Lamb should be the primary beneficiary of the Cowboys’ success with the passing game against the Titans. He is averaging nine targets and 80.5 receiving yards per game. Since Week 12, the Titans’ secondary has allowed impressive performances from wideouts such as A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith and Tee Higgins. The likelihood of Lamb joining them is high.
Over the past three games, the Cowboys’ offense ranks fifth with 406.7 total yards on average and second with 33.7 points. Dallas should blow out the Titans based on the 10-point spread. On the road, the Cowboys average 27.3 points per game, but they should surpass that mark in this contest.