The high-riding Dallas Cowboys and low-flying Tennessee Titans stage an FBO game – For Bettors Only – launching NFL Week 17 Thursday night.
Neither team has a consequential stake in this matchup, but bettors have a different view: numbers.
The line is Dallas -10, with 79% of the DraftKings spread bettors supporting the ‘Boys and the public handle split 50-50 on the Over-Under of 41.5. Seven of the last eight Cowboys games have gone Over.
The 11-4 Cowboys just beat the best team in the National Football League, the now 13-2 Philadelphia Eagles. The 7-8 Titans were just manhandled by the league’s worst team, the Houston Texans, now 2-12-1.
How does this translate into Thursday night?
When odds go up throughout the books, bettors will try to project individual performances into a game like this.
Some significant areas:
The number of touchdown passes for Dak Prescott. You usually need three to make the bet worthwhile.
Whether Zeke Elliott, Tony Pollard, or both, find the end zone.
Whether CeeDee Lamb has another explosive game, Michael Gallup hits paydirt again and T.Y. Hilton has an expanded role. It’s hard to play all of these picks, but bettors will select at least a couple for touchdowns or yardage excellence.
With the absence of Ryan Tannehill at quarterback for the Titans can the Dallas D get a defensive/special teams touchdown?
The betting numbers run parallel to the real-life world of two teams essentially landlocked.
Barring a miraculous collapse by the Eagles, the Cowboys are bound to visit a still-to-be-crowned NFC South champion in the playoff opener. That said, their 40-34 triumph over the Philadelphia Eagles bolstered their post-season psyche.
The Titans, once a shoo-in for the playoffs, find themselves in second place behind the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC South. Tennessee will play Jacksonville next week in a likely all-or-nothing scenario, reducing the impact of this game.
The Week 18 winner will host a first-round AFC wild-card game and the loser will go home.
That means the theme of this week is more of an emotional one, going forward.
Can the Cowboys take care of business?
What’s Behind The Betting Line
The Titans have trouble scoring with Tannehill out. And he won’t play in what’s become an in-season exhibition game. His replacement Malik Willis is a fairly effective runner, but looks lost as a passer. The Cowboys will stack the box, harass him and make Willis beat them through the air. Hmm.
A Willis rushing prop in the neighborhood of 35-50 yards may entice bettors. So would turnover possibilities.
Titans Paying for Brown Trade
Cowboys fans know how explosive new receiver A.J. Brown is for the Eagles. Titans bettors wince at how explosive he once was because Brown was traded on draft night this year.
The departure of Brown was unpopular in Tennessee and Tannehill was outspoken against it. Brown wanted a multi-year contract, but Tennessee considered him too expensive and, for this year at least, gets burned.
The Titans are an emotional wreck and they fired general manager Jon Robinson this month after the Brown-led Eagles crushed the Titans 35-10. The loss of Brown and disappointing recent draft picks have sent this team into a tailspin. The ‘Boys catch the Titans at a good time.
Bettors can hardly believe this Titans team once led the NFL with eight consecutive covers.
But that was then…
The Titans have Derrick Henry…and…that…is…it.
Although Henry is the most explosive back in the league, when there is no threat of a passing game, he has limits. Henry has also been afflicted with fumble-itis, putting the ball on the turf each of the last two games.
His fumble with Tennessee driving toward an insurance score against the Texans was the turning point of the game. Tennessee did not merely lose to the then-one-win Texans. The Titans were pushed around. The win by Houston was no fluke.
What’s Behind The 41.5 Total?
Offenses have looked sluggish in December Thursday night matchups.
Point totals have been 34, 33, 34 and 22, far lower than gamblers would expect from many of the teams involved.
The timing of offenses hasn’t been sharp in the last month. Teams will lean against suiting up some players with borderline injuries, figuring to give them extensive rest for the following week.
It’s not much, but value is value.
In the Game Parlays section, DraftKings offers a parlay of the Cowboys-9.5 and the Over 42.5. It lists for +230.
But take that same as a regular parlay in the game lines section and it’s +256.
For someone who makes a $100 wager, that’s a difference of $25 for the same wager. These edges add up over extended play.
Granted, these odds change, but sometimes you can spot values early.
Props For Consideration
The ‘Boys almost had one against the Eagles last week. Gardner Minshew made a TD-saving tackle on what looked like a sure score. Cowboys pressure, a weak Willis pass off the back foot and then a bit of luck would bring that one in. See what the odds are. You want at least in the range of +400 to +500 to consider the bet and odds may be higher.
Will the Titans score first and lose? That’s + 265.
Tennessee often gets on the board first at home. What the bettors hope for is a Titans field goal, a 3-0 lead and then a Cowboys victory. Just like last week.
Will each team score one touchdown in the first half and one field goal in the second half? The Yes is +450.
Will each team score a touchdown in each half? Yes is +285. Bettors can be creative and play both of these, trying to snare two paydays.
Will the total touchdowns in the game be over or under 4.5? It’s -115 either way and a bit tricky? The Cowboys are explosive, yet the Titans play close-to-the-vest football.
Get in the game right away.
What will the first score of the game be?
- Dallas touchdown +140
- Dallas field goal +280
- Dallas safety +7000.
- Tennessee touchdown +390
- Tennessee field goal +370
- Tennessee safety +7000.