All can be forgotten. All can be forgiven.
Or all can be lost.
A referendum on a challenging, yet fulfilling Dallas Cowboys regular season comes to a head in the first round of the postseason.
When the ‘Boys meet the Bucs on the Monday Night prime-time stage, bettors will have enjoyed an extra couple of days to weigh in. Early action was vigorous, in the Tampa Bay direction, setting up an opportunity for Cowboys backers.
The initial DraftKings betting line of Dallas -3 prompted a flood of Bucs money, dropping the line to -2.5. That’s an excellent number for bettors of the Cowboys.
Dallas backers believe the 12-5 Cowboys are better than the 8-9 Bucs, who won the weak NFC South but beat the Cowboys 19-3 in Week 1.
The Over-Under is 45.5, a middle-of-the-road balance between offensive and defensive expectations.
Which Cowboys team will show up? Bettors have to decide if it’s the club that walloped the Minnesota Vikings 40-3, squandered a 17-point lead in losing to the Jacksonville Jaguars or the disinterested group that lost to the Washington Commanders last week.
Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, told HowBoutThem:
“The Cowboys are almost an impossible team to predict. One week they can score 40 points. Another week they can score six. They do have a tough time putting everything together and they have been nothing special in the playoffs.”
Nobody has to tell the bettors that the ‘Boys haven’t won two playoff games in one year since capturing the Super Bowl in 1995-96. They haven’t captured a playoff game, period, since 2018.
While bettors ponder spread picks, props are always enticing.
Here was the first batch from DraftKings.
Cowboys vs. Bucs game props
Dallas total points over-under 23.5. Both sides are -110.
This is a sign of respect for the Cowboys, who tallied all of three in the opener vs Tampa Bay.
Dallas touchdowns over-under 2.5. The Over is -130 and the Under is -110. They are doing you no favors on the Over price, making it nearly unplayable.
Tampa Bay total points over-under 21.5. Both sides are -110.
Tampa Bay total touchdowns over-under 2.5. the Over is -105 and the under is -135.
- Overtime? Yes is +1100
- First score of the game
- Dallas touchdown +205
- Dallas field goal +330
- Dallas safety +7000
- Tampa Bay touchdown +220
- Tampa Bay field goal +360
- Tampa Bay safety +7000
Will both teams complete their first pass? Yes is -112 and no is -108. The juice is comparable to a classic spread bet. Having a feel on a prop can be just as financially important as a hunch on the spread.
What is the result of the first drive?
- Punt -120
- Touchdown +340
- Field Goal +440
- Other +550. This includes a turnover, safety or defensive score.
- Total Points First Quarter is Over or Under 9.5.
For those who wish to dig deep, there is an Over-Under for every quarter of the game.
Second and fourth quarters will generally be higher because of the two-minute warning and timeouts called.
Bettors can look for props throughout the landscape of books. Just focus on an angle and see if the price is right.
Micah Parsons is +145 to get .75 sacks or higher against Tom Brady.
The Boys’ most celebrated player also is +120 to go above 3.5 tackles.
This bet depends on what side of the ball you think Tampa Bay will operate from. Some teams deliberately avoid Parsons.
Nonetheless, this is a reasonable payout for a wager that has a chance.
Gamblers can pick the highest or lowest-scoring team of the Wild Card weekend. The ‘Boys are +850, mid-pack, to record the highest points. Tampa Bay’s defense is good enough to make this outcome unlikely.
But the Bucs are +1000, fourth highest, to be the lowest-scoring team of the weekend.
This is an enticement, tempered by the fact that the Miami Dolphins may be using backups against the Buffalo Bills and are favored.
Nonetheless, this is a good book to scour, see a few props that make sense, and take a shot.
Cowboys Overall Analysis
Here’s a Point-Counter Point argument bettors can wrestle with over the next few days.
Point: The ‘Boys underperform in the playoffs. They get out-coached. Their clock management is weak. They lack focus, just look at the finale last year against the San Francisco 49ers.
Counter Point: They play a Tampa Bay team that finished with a losing record. Dallas won four more regular-season games. Yes, the home field cuts into that talent difference, but four games are a lot.
And Tampa Bay got all the bounces in stealing late home victories against the New Orleans Saints, Los Angeles Rams and Carolina Panthers.
Point: Dak Prescott is killing the ‘Boys with game-changing Pick 6 tosses.
Counter Point: Look for him to throw more short passes that don’t sail on him, prompting the interceptions.
The Cowboys were outplayed in the first half by Washington when they were going all out. At times, the team looks rudderless. Nobody stepped up for them to rescue big blown leads to the Packers and Jacksonville Jaguars.
Counter Point: The botched punt, mishandled punt return, the Pick 6 and the team’s overall malaise ultimately meant nothing because the Philadelphia Eagles beat the New York Giants anyway to win the NFC East. The Cowboys may have flushed all the errors out of their system.
Strength of Schedule
Look which playoff teams Dallas beat: The New York Giants twice, the Eagles, the Minnesota Vikings and the Cincinnati Bengals.
Look at the teams Tampa Bay lost to which failed to make the playoffs: Carolina, Atlanta Falcons, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns. The Bucs beat one playoff team, the 7th-seeded Seattle Seahawks.
Common Opponents: The Cowboys defeated the Cincinnati Bengals, who the Bucs lost to after blowing a 17-0 lead. Both teams defeated the Los Angeles Rams and lost to the Green Bay Packers.