A horse-racing analogy fits the Dallas Cowboys. The key word for them entering NFL Week 8 is “stalk” as we examine the Cowboys vs. Bears spread.
As they prepare to host the Chicago Bears at -9, the 5-2 Cowboys simply want to run right behind the NFC East Philadelphia Eagles (6-0) and New York Giants (6-1) approaching the halfway mark of the campaign. Their idea is to stay close enough to either overtake Philadelphia or New York in the homestretch and stay ahead of the rest of the field.
If the Cowboys beat one of those teams, they will at least produce a payoff in terms of a playoff berth.
The expectation is that they will.
Here are the latest odds regarding the Cowboys.
NFC East Odds
The consensus is that this is a two-team NFC East race between the Eagles and the Cowboys. But the 6-1 Giants are propping the Cowboys’ betting odds up.
Dallas is +500 to win the NFC East. The Giants are +900. The Eagles are a prohibitive -400. If the Giants fade from the picture, the Dallas number will drift into +250 range.
To capture the NFC East, the Cowboys would have to make up a game on Philadelphia between now and their Dec. 24 meeting in Big D, and then win that one. Odds of Dallas making the playoffs are already prohibitive, thus the division futures bet is the wager Cowboys backers may take a stab at.
A majority of DraftKings bettors – 73% – believe they will take a step toward that goal by winning and covering the -9 against the 3-4 Bears.
The Cowboys, primarily underdogs while Dak Prescott was sidelined for five weeks, try to cover a big number for the second straight week with him back.
In Prescott’s return, they prevailed at -7 with a late-surging 24-6 triumph over the Detroit Lions last week.
Dallas’ excellent defense nearly gave Prescott the day off. It forced four fourth-quarter turnovers, including a goal-line fumble when the Lions were about to take the lead. That changed the game.
Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, told How Bout Them.
“The Cowboys did what they had to do last week in beating Detroit and this is another good spot for them. Dak Prescott had a good day for them (19-25 with 207 yards and one TD) in his return and they came out of that game fine.
“For them, the idea is to keep winning and put themselves in position so that the next time they play Philadelphia will matter for them. It still looks like a two-team race between the Cowboys and Eagles in the NFC East. The Giants are playing real well, but I don’t see them as a 6-1 team right now.”
Gamblers may be eyeing defensive props this week, as in turnover totals and interceptions. Maybe even a score.
The ‘Boys are so strong defensively that 81% of the DraftKings handle for this game was on the Under 42 midway through the week.
Sure, the Bears just surprised the New England Patriots 33-14 on Monday Night, moving the spread line from +10.5 to +9 on this game. But gamblers still believe the Bears will have trouble scoring.
Doesn’t everybody against the Cowboys?
This sets up an interesting consideration on the total.
Dallas has only allowed 12 points in its last six quarters. That includes holding the potent Philadelphia Eagles to six points in the second half of the 26-17 Week 6 loss.
But the Bears just put up 33 against a team that had given up only 15 points in its last two games. And they notched 390 yards. That’s nothing to overlook.
Handicapping the Key Element
Two words: Justin Fields.
The Bears had been offensively challenged when they let their quarterback loose against the Patriots. Stung from having scored only seven points against the Washington Commanders in Week 6, the Bears called Fields’ number against the Patriots.
Fields was the game’s leading rusher with 82 yards on 14 carries. That’s Lamar Jackson-like and risky regarding injury. But it worked for the Bears because Fields opened up the gridiron. He not only scrambled for first downs but drifted from the pocket and spotted receivers adjusting their routes.
It’s going to be interesting – and fun – to watch how the Cowboys address that. Mobile quarterbacks are a big wild card. Do the Cowboys shadow Fields? Do they drop back in coverage and make him stay in the pocket?
That decision may impact everything from Fields’ rushing totals to how many points the Bears score.
The public sees a low-scoring game in which the Cowboys cover. But contrarians may believe the Bears have found enough firepower to at least drive this game Over.
Another Fields Betting Angle
He’s the heart and soul of the Chicago offense. Bettors who took him as an anytime scorer and first touchdown scorer on Monday night were rewarded. Fields, along with Jackson and Jalen Hurts of the Eagles, are wagered upon with confidence on the touchdown-scoring angle, even more so than their passing yardage.
Another St. Brown
Does the name Equanimeous St. Brown sound familiar? The last name will, at least, to Cowboys bettors, because the team just faced his brother Amon-Ra St. Brown.
Like his brother, the Chicago St. Brown is a potent receiving threat. He had four catches for 48 yards against the Patriots and was targeted seven times. He’ll be prominent in the game plan again.
Keep an Eye on Zeke
Zeke Elliott took a hard shot to his right knee against the Lions. Officials say he has a knee sprain and began the week by not practicing. Bettors will have to monitor how much/little Zeke will play and factor that into any projections.
Fantasy owners and prop bettors already have a dilemma with Elliott and Tony Pollard splitting backfield reps.
Rookie tight end Peyton Hendershot proved that he fits into the team formula, catching his first career touchdown with Dalton Schultz on the sidelines late last week.
Schultz had a stellar game, snaring all five targets from Prescott, who loves hooking up with him. But he was not in the game late, allowing Hendershot to haul in his historic grab.
Although Schultz continues getting dinged, Hendershot has been emerging and can probably be trusted.