NFL betting: Here's how to attack Cowboys-Saints matchup

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·Betting analyst
·3 min read
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The Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints kick-start Week 13 Thursday night in a matchup filled with question marks. How will Dallas perform without coach Mike McCarthy and a handful of assistants on the sidelines? Will Taysom Hill be able to provide the spark the Saints' offense desperately needs? In a game with so many unique variables, getting comfortable with either side is a challenge.

The more appealing bet to make is on the total. Unders have been trending recently in prime-time games, hitting in eight of the last nine. During that same period, Thursday Night Football has produced an average of only 31.3 combined points. I think you know where I am headed tonight, but let's take a look at all three prime-time games and my best bets for each total.

TNF: Dallas at New Orleans (Under 47.5)

I understand how the oddsmakers get to the number. Dallas is 4-1 to the under in its last five with an average total of 52. New Orleans is 4-1 to the over with an average closing total of 44. This week they open in the middle (48) and it gets bet down to 47.5. The number is still 3.5 points above average, considering teams are scoring 22 points a game. Do you get the feeling these are going to be above-average offenses Thursday night?

In the last five weeks, the Saints are 31st in EPA per play. That's below the Detroit Lions. Alvin Kamara has been ruled out again, and I'm not sold on Hill at QB. I think the Saints' defense is strong enough to hold Dallas under 30, even with CeeDee Lamb returning from injury. Let's bet the under before everyone else drives the number lower.

SNF: Denver at Kansas City (Under 47.5)

This bet was so solid that I had to give it out on Monday in my early unders feature. The market drove the number down from 49.5 to 47.5 throughout the week and it's still playable at under 47 or above. Capturing at least 47 is critical as it's considered a key number. It's the fourth-most common combined score in NFL games over the last six seasons.

Vic Fangio's offense already operates at the third-slowest pace in the NFL and will look to chew up the clock and play keep away against Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs' offense has scored 19, 13, and 20 in their last three homes games and takes on a Broncos' defense that was specifically built to slow it down with Justin Simmons and Patrick Surtain II.

MNF: New England at Buffalo (Over 43.5)

Bill Belichick's defense didn't allow more than 13 points in a football game during the entire month of November. There is a good reason this total was bet down from the opening number of 46. At the current number, we are getting a team that has averaged 35 points per game over the past six weeks at a 43.5-point total. Sometimes you have to take what the market gives you. Rather than bet a bad number it's best to take advantage of the value that the line movement creates.

I'm going over 43.5 and betting the Bills' defense is not up for the challenge of slowing down a Patriots offense that ranks No. 1 in EPA per play and offensive success rate since Week 7. The Bills haven't had a single game this season that has closed below 45 and the Patriots are 6-2 to the over since Week 5.

Stats provided by football outsiders, teamrankings.com and rbsdm.com.

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