Sunday Night Football Betting: Can Dallas Cover a Monster Double-Digit Spread?
An eight-point win on Turkey Day cemented a firm grasp on second place, for the time being, for the Dallas Cowboys. Despite a gaudy record, the Cowboys, ranked third in our power rankings are gonna need some help if they have aspirations of catching the league-leading Philadelphia Eagles.
Meanwhile, despite acquiring veteran signal-caller Matt Ryan this offseason, the Indianapolis Colts are just 4-7-1 this season, and the AFC South is a division that they wantingly had hopes of winning, but it could be out of their reach with a loss this week.
Let’s dive in and see if we can uncover any interesting betting angles for this contest.
Breaking It Down
Despite missing a few weeks due to injury, Dak Prescott has been outstanding under center for America’s Team. Among the 35 quarterbacks with 150 or more drop backs this season, Prescott has been performing at an elite level with a 0.20 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back mark – ranking him fourth-best in the NFL. His 53.44% Passing Success Rate clocks him in fourth-best in the league as well.
After a one year experiment with Carson Wentz as their leading man, the Colts turned to the veteran Ryan – and Father Time could be playing a cruel joke on the QB. He hasn’t been nearly quite as adept as Prescott from an efficiency perspective – his Passing NEP per pass mark of 0.00 means (just like my momma used to read me with the Three Little Bears) that he hasn’t been too hot or too cold, but just right. He’s neither adding nor subtracting offense from the Colts this season – so maybe that’s not too good after all. Peeking deeper using our per-play metrics as our guide, it would rule decidedly that Wentz and Co. have been decidedly awful on offense, ranking second-worst overall and fifth-worst via the pass.
While an aging vet under center could have screamed like a poor decision to many for Colts fans, the poor play of workhorse Jonathan Taylor certainly comes as a bit of a surprise. The Indianapolis ground game ranks second-worst from an efficiency perspective this season, and Taylor has logged only a -0.04 Rushing NEP per carry mark on the year. Among the 33 running backs with 100 more carries this season (Taylor has logged a healthy work load of 171 so far in 2022), that ranks him as the fifth-most inefficient running back this year.
On the flip side, the Cowboys have gotten a boat load of production out of the two-headed monster they have at the running back position. While the Ohio State and John Burroughs High school product Ezekiel Elliott has been outstanding over 136 carries (0.07 Rushing NEP per rush), Tony Pollard has been equally impressive as the league’s second-most efficient runner with a 0.15 Rushing NEP per rush in his 140 carries so far this season. It’s a pretty impressive feat to have not one, but two, of the league’s most efficient runners in the NFL, and they’ve also combined to record 31 receptions in the pass game.
Thanks to the strength of this multi-faceted offense, Dallas ranks 11th overall and 11th in passing in the NFL in offense, a far cry from the poor marks Indianapolis has exhibited. However, they possess the league’s second-best defense (and first against the pass), while Indy ranks 11th overall in team defense.
The Betting Numbers
As we get close to kicking off, the Cowboys are hefty 10.5-point home favorites (moneyline -550 for the Cowboys), and the over/under has been set at 44.5 points.
Dallas has been a solid bet so far against-the-spread (ATS) this season – they’ve won five straight contests in Jerry Jones’s home playground, and have notched a 7-4 ATS record in 2022. The Colts have been a bit more blah, rocking a 5-7 ATS mark. While this looks like a big spread, we are projecting a nice win for the Cowboys, predicting a score of 27.6 to 16.7, making it a toss-up if they will cover the spread.
December has been a really kind month historically for the Cowboys – they have covered in their last seven games, and at home against Indy, they are 6-1 in their last seven contests against the Colts. We don't seem to have a great lean on the over/under, expecting the UNDER to hit only 51.5% of the time. Interestingly, as this offense has sputtered for the Colts, the UNDER has made for a smart bet. The UNDER has hit in 14 of the last 17 games.
The public is clearly backing the home Cowboys, as 70% of bets and 63% of cash is supporting Dallas.