Dallas Cowboys vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1/16 @ 8:15 PM EST)
Spread: Cowboys -2.5
Money Line: Cowboys -140 / Buccaneers +120
Overview and Betting Info
The Dallas Cowboys (12-5) will head to Tampa Bay to take on the Buccaneers (8-9) for the final game of Wild Card weekend. The Buccaneers won 19-3 in week one in the lone matchup between these two teams. The Bucs won the NFC South, while the Cowboys enter as a wild card.
The Cowboys are 10-7 against the spread this season but have covered just two of their last five games. They went over the total nine times and have done so in seven of their last ten games.
The Bucs are 4-12-1 versus the spread but have failed to cover six of their last seven games. They have gone over the total six times and have done so in four of their last five games.
The Cowboys’ offense averaged 354.9 yards and 27.5 points (4th in NFL) per game this season. They are led by Dak Prescott, who has thrown for 2,860 yards and 23 touchdowns in twelve games this season. Interceptions have become a big problem for Prescott to close the season. He has 11 interceptions over his last seven games, with at least one in each. Dak is also coming off his worst game, where he completed 37% of his passes for 128 yards against Washington. He was solid in the three games before this one, so we’ll see if it was just a blip on the radar. Prescott also struggled against the Bucs in week one, completing 48% of his passes for 134 yards and an interception.
The Dallas receiving corps is led again by CeeDee Lamb, who is sixth in the NFL with 1,359 yards and nine touchdowns. While he struggled in week one against the Bucs, Lamb has been on fire over their last four games, with 35 catches for 398 yards and three touchdowns. Lamb is joined by tight end Dalton Schultz (577 yards, 5 TD) and Michael Gallup (424 yards, 4 TD). Schultz was one of the lone Cowboys to play well against the Bucs in week one, but his usage has fluctuated for most of the season. Keep an eye out for TY Hilton Monday, as the receiver has 121 yards in just three games with the team.
The Cowboys’ backfield is led by Tony Pollard (1,007 yards, 9 TD) and Ezekiel Elliott (876 yards, 12 TD). Pollard has been the more effective rusher by averaging 5.2 YPC and breaking open a lot of big plays. He has also been the better receiver, with 371 yards and three touchdowns through the air. Elliot has taken on the grinder role, effective in the red zone but only averaging 3.8 YPC. The two have been perfect compliments to each other and give the Cowboys a top-10 rushing attack in the NFL (135.2 YPG).
The Dallas defense allowed 330.2 yards and 20.1 points (5th in NFL) per game. They’ve been exposed a bit coming down the stretch, as they allowed 27.2 points per game over their last five. They have been led by an MVP-level season from linebacker Micah Parsons. The second-year player leads the team in sacks (13.5), TFLs (13), forced fumbles (3), and found his way into the backfield for two sacks against the Bucs earlier this season. He joins a talented pass rush that includes Dorance Armstrong (8.5 sacks, 10 TFLs), DeMarcus Lawrence (6 sacks, 9 TFLs), Sam Williams (4 sacks, 10 TFLs), and Dante Fowler Jr (6 sacks, 7 TFL, 1 INT). In the secondary, they feature a lot of talent led by DaRon Bland (7 PD, 5 INT), Malik Hooker (3 INT, 62 tackles), and Trevon Diggs (14 PD, 3 INT). Diggs is considered one of the top corners in the league and will play a key role against Evans and Godwin on Monday.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs’ offense averaged 346.7 yards and 18.4 points (27th in NFL) per game this season. They are led by Tom Brady, who was third in the NFL in yards (4,694) and eight in touchdowns (25) this season. While he was limited in last week’s meaningless game, he threw for an insane 432 yards and three touchdowns in a critical game against the Panthers the week before. That would help secure a division title and playoff birth and should send shivers down opponents’ spines. He was average against the Cowboys in week one, throwing for 212 yards with a touchdown and interception.
The Tampa receiving corps is headlined by Mike Evans (1,124 yards, 6 TD) and Chris Godwin (1,023 yards, 3 TD). Godwin has played more this season and has been Brady’s favorite target with 104 receptions (8th in NFL). Evans missed some time, including last week (illness), but he had a career game against Carolina by catching 10 balls for 207 yards and three touchdowns. Evans also played well and scored in their week one win over Dallas. When Evans and Godwin are covered, look for Russel Gage (426 yards, 5 TD) to see some balls come his way. He has stepped up with injuries to Evans and Godwin and now has four touchdowns in his last five games.
The Bucs’ backfield is led by Leonard Fournette, who has rushed for 668 yards and three touchdowns. He has also been a great pass catcher, with 523 yards and three more touchdowns through the air. While the dual-threat is impressive, he’s been ineffective on the ground most of the season, averaging just 3.5 YPC. He had a massive game against Dallas this season, averaging 6 YPC for 127 yards. Fournette is joined by Rachaad White, who has 481 yards and a touchdown on the ground, with another 290 yards and two touchdowns through the air.
The Tampa defense is top-ten in the league, allowing 324.3 yards and 21.1 points per game this season. They’ve been a big reason for the team’s division title but have allowed 27.8 points per game over their last five. Their defense is led by Vita Vea (6.5 sacks, 7 TFLs) and Devin White (5.5 sacks, 8 TFLs, 5 PD, 124 tackles). Keep an eye on Vea’s status this week, as he missed their last game and is listed as questionable for Monday. It seems he will play, but it will be worth checking before placing a bit. In the secondary, the Bucs are led by Jamel Dean (8 PD, 2 INT), Sean Murphy-Bunting (7 PD, 2 INT), and Carlton Davis III (12 PD, 1 INT). They don’t generate turnovers, but they may have opportunities against a struggling Prescott on Monday.