No Dak, no problem.
No Michael Gallup, no problem.
No Dalton Schultz, no problem.
The Dallas Cowboys, left for dead in the national media after Dak Prescott’s thumb injury in Week 1, have overcome injuries to key personnel. They have won two straight and look like a team that should triumph more than it loses.
How About Them Cowboys, indeed.
As they prepare to host the Washington Commanders Sunday at -3, the Cowboys are writing an impressive chapter in their history.
Envisioning this team at 3-1 without Prescott, sidelined for perhaps another month with a thumb injury, means savoring two recent developments.
One was the wire-to-wire effort they rose to deliver against the Cincinnati Bengals, beating the defending AFC champs on the final play with a Brett Maher field goal. That came after the Cowboys were a league-high home dog of +8.5 and the team most heavily bet against in the entire league.
Rally No. 2 was even more significant. The surge occurred on the road and on the prime-time stage of Monday Night Football against NFC East rival the New York Giants. It came late, it was definitive and unfolded after the Cowboys trailed 13-6 late in the third quarter. They could have folded then.
But they instead notched a 23-16 triumph that included three straight scoring drives of two touchdowns and a field goal, the ability to get the lead late and shut the Giants down cold with one of the league’s best defenses.
And now look.
The ‘Boys are chalk again, even if it’s for one week.
Johnny Avello, the director of race and sports book operations for DraftKings, told How Bout Them:
“A lot of players on that team have stepped up. Their quarterback Cooper Rush is not making many mistakes, he has found a go-to guy in Cee Dee Lamb and Tony Pollard is great in the backfield. He is making a real big difference there.”
To his point, Pollard put up 105 yards against the Giants and is quicker hitting the hole than Zeke Elliott, who nonetheless tallied in this game.
Rush put up serviceable numbers with 215 passing yards and one touchdown. The zeroes were important too, as in zero sacks or interceptions. Rush stayed within himself and made key plays when necessary, like the 4th and 4 from the Giants 41 he picked up with 10:27 to play.
Rush hit CeeDee Lamb for the conversion and later the winning touchdown.
Lamb has always been a deep threat but he stepped up to make the tough short catches too. Rush has found a connection and may soon have more.
Gallup and Schultz are tentatively set to be in the lineup against Washington.
Gallup hasn’t played since January after tearing his ACL against the Arizona Cardinals in a 25-22 loss. In his eight starts last year, Gallup was good for nearly five catches and 60 yards a game. That’s at least enough to take some defensive pressure off of Lamb.
Schultz, battling a nagging PCL injury, is one of the league’s most clutch tight ends. He’s an excellent third-down option and enough of a target to open up the field for other players.
That’s only the offensive side of the ball.
Micah Parsons has been playing lights out to anchor a defense that keeps Dallas in games long enough for the offense to win them. None of the Cowboys’ first three opponents have reached 20 points.
“When you have the injuries Dallas has sustained, you need the defense to play better than it ever does,” Avello said, “and that’s what the Cowboys are doing. They are getting that play. They are hanging around.”
And they are winning.
The Cowboys have been elevated to second at DraftKings at +380 to win the NFC East. As it did on Opening Day, the division looks to be between the ‘Boys and the Philadelphia Eagles, now 3-0 and looking like the real deal as the -300 chalk in the NFC East and +350 favorite to win the entire conference.
Dallas can underscore its rebound with a victory over the Commanders, who look lost with Carson Wentz behind center. Wentz was sacked a whopping nine times in the team’s 24-8 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles and can’t improvise the way he once did.
The public is now riding with the Cowboys to the tune of 70% handle at -3.
Avello cautioned against giddy optimism, however.
“First of all, you know that when these teams meet, you can throw out the records. This is the type of game Dallas has to get by in order to remain in a good position in the division. At face value, it’s a tough game. Dallas is not at full strength and Washington is not as bad as they have shown.
“Washington is going to be desperate. This could be their whole season, a game that decides whether they have a shot to be around or whether they are done early.”
Dallas knows the dilemma.
It faced the same question two weeks ago and answered it.
Prop Bets Emerging at DraftKings
Although the spread bets and over-under props dominate wagering, new bets always come up. An angle in any of these is just as good as an angle on the main bets.
Among the newest is 4th-down conversions. That’s become a new league staple. In this game the over-under is 1.5 with the Over at +125 and the Under at -165.
Will the largest lead of the game be Over or Under 14.5 points? The Over is -105, the Under is -135.
Will the score be tied after 0-0? Yes is +100, No is -125.
Cowboys point bands:
- 0-10 is +700
- 11-20 is +120
- 21-30 is +150
- 31-40 is +425
Can the Cowboys win the first half with the total exceeding 20.5 points? Yes is +200.
Props that will be posted closer to game time involve individual stats.
It’s always interesting to watch for a Carson Wentz pick. He will usually throw at least one. The question is whether Dallas bettors believe the price is right.
It’s no longer a secret that Wentz (and Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins) are pick-prone.