The Dallas Cowboys, according to DraftKings gamblers, really are America’s Team this week.
At midweek, a strong 81% of the betting handle backed the Cowboys at -5 for coach Mike McCarthy’s return to Lambeau Field.
Dallas faces the Green Bay Packers team McCarthy coached to a Super Bowl championship in 2010. It was also under McCarthy’s tenure that Aaron Rodgers began unfurling his string of MVP awards.
Now the 6-2 Cowboys are riding high and the 3-6 Packers, with a fading Rodgers, are not. They have lost a league-high five straight games. Bettors have different ways to put that into their wagering equations.
Ideas bettors will consider
- The DraftKings special. Will Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott pass for a touchdown and run for one? It’s +300, a low number for this possibility and a suggestion the book thinks it can happen. Bettors will assume that Dak will throw for at least one score. They can measure this price versus the actual number for Prescott as an anytime scorer and weigh its potential worth.
- How many points will the Cowboys score?
At DraftKings, the benchmark is 23.5 points with the Over -120 and the Under at +100. This looks like a fair number on both sides. The Cowboys were explosive in a 49-29 triumph over the Chicago Bears two weeks ago. Green Bay, conversely, held the high-scoring Detroit Lions to 15 points last week and was stingy in the Red Zone.
The Cowboys feature Tony Pollard coming off a breakout game with 131 yards and 14 carries. Green Bay has a better defense than Chicago but Pollard has used the Zeke Elliott injury to flourish. Even with Elliott presumably back this week, he could be limited and Pollard is finding out who he is.
Add his backfield presence to a receiving corps including CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup and solid tight-end personnel. Prescott has an abundance of weapons, besides his own legs.
- The over-under for the game is 43 points
Green Bay features a deliberate offense with limited big-play capability. The loss of Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders has been a crippler for Rodgers. Much of the unique razzle-dazzle Rodgers has unfurled went away with Adams. That includes a receiver breaking off the pattern to come clear while Rodgers scrambled and the ability to come back and catch the deliberately-underthrown ball.
Add the ferocious Cowboys defense to this equation and Rodgers will be challenged.
Besides harassing Rodgers, Dallas will try to take away his second, third and fourth receiving options. Nobody knows his tendencies better than McCarthy.
The over-under total doesn’t present an immediate edge. This is a good one to tweak a couple of points either way, depending upon your preference, and link it to a parlay.
Punts as a prop
Can you believe it? Bettors will look for an edge on anything. This one is 8.5 with the Over at -125 and the Under at-105. This depends on whether the coaches want to play a field-position game in the expected cold temperatures of 37 degrees. Both of them are normally assertive on fourth down and their recent games have gone Under.
Pollard is the workhorse and is always a threat to break one. Elliott, when healthy, is handed the gift of touchdowns from the 1. Lamb, who has three touchdowns, and tight end Dalton Schultz, in and out of the lineup with injuries, has none. Both are due.
Schultz had a season-high 74 yards receiving against the Bears. Besides scoring, any yardage props higher than 40 yards for him may be viable.
This is a category bettors can take some multiple shots with and collect multiple times. The key is the price. Once that goes above -115, is it worth the investment? Individual decision.
Defensive/special teams score
The Cowboys’ pressure on Rodgers could prompt a Pick 6 or strip-sack fumble that turns into points. The Packers gave up a special teams score to the New York Jets a few weeks back.
This usually pays in the +400 to +500 range.
Rodgers will try to get off the deck, just as Tom Brady did in a game-winning drive against the Los Angeles Rams last week.
The future Hall of Famer is not playing like a defending league MVP. Nothing illustrated that better than two end-zone picks against the Detroit Lions. And two possessions that started from inside the Lions’ 5 that produced no points last week.
The critics are all over Rodgers now and believe the wide receivers have been the scapegoat for the team’s decline. The perception is that Rodgers shows up and gets a paycheck.
If he’s ever going to respond, it’s now.
Should he flop and the Packers become 3-7, the housecleaning may start early.
Green Bay returns to Lambeau for the first time since the middle of October. McCarthy is in the house. This team should come out angry.
What that could mean as a hunch: Green Bay manages to score first and the Cowboys come back to win. This usually pays in the +400 or +500 range for bettors who want to wager upon in-game developments.
Other Ways to Play
It doesn’t matter which team scores first.
Draft Kings has a prop about whether the first score of the game will be a touchdown at -155, a field goal at +115 or a safety at +2000.
A Sample from FanDuel
- Will the Cowboys score more than 1.5 touchdowns in the first half? Yes is +140, No is -182.
- Will each team score a touchdown in each half? Yes is +235.
- Total touchdowns in the game, both teams combined. The over-under is 4.5.
- The Over is -118, the Under is -104
- Green Bay to win the first half and Dallas to win the game in regulation is +650.
- A halftime tie followed by a Cowboys victory is +1700.
- Dallas to be ahead at halftime and the end of the game is -110.
- First drive of the game result:
- Punt -130
- Touchdown +400
- Field goal +440
- Any Other +500
This is just a sample of the seemingly-endless potpourri of prop options.
Because of the vig (-115 or -120 on a prop for example), a good rule of thumb is to place well more than 50% on one major bet and dabble with the rest.