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Week 13 Thursday Night Football Preview: Washington Redskins vs. Dallas Cowboys Betting Advice

By Peter Brooks in Sports
| November 28, 2017 12:00 am PDT

On the Week 13 edition of Thursday Night Football, NFL fans and gamblers get to see an exciting NFC East rivalry: The Washington Redskins taking on the Dallas Cowboys, with both teams fighting for their very playoff lives.

Both of these teams are 5–6, and the statistics are very clear about what happens to teams at 5–7.

Historically, 5–6 teams have made the playoffs an average of 13% of the time since the NFL adopted a 16-game schedule. At a record of 5–6, if a team wins their next game (to go up to a record of 6–6), they generally make the playoffs 29% of the time – much better than a puncher’s chance.

However, if a 5–6 team loses their next game, to fall to 5–7, historically speaking they only make the playoffs 4% of the time – which may as well be a death sentence.

  • Who: Washington Redskins (5–6) vs. Dallas Cowboys (5–6)
  • Where: AT&T Stadium. Arlington, Texas
  • When: Thursday, November 30, 2017. 8:25 PM (EST) on NBC

In this way, not only is the air going to be electric in this game due to the deep-seated hatred of the rivalry, but these two teams will also be looking to end the other’s playoff chances, as well as to keep their own playoff dreams alive.

In all likelihood, the winner of this game on Thursday Night Football will compete for a Wild Card spot, and the loser of this game will miss the playoffs altogether.

And not only should this be a thrilling game to watch, but it also has great potential to be a profitable game to wager on. Below, I’ve got you covered with all the info you need on the following bets:

  • Moneyline bets
  • Bets against the spread
  • The total score over/under bet
  • Any prop bets or futures that could hold value

With the arrival of Week 13, we’ve now officially entered into the part of the season where almost every game is meaningful for the postseason. And it starts this Thursday Night with the Redskins and Cowboys.

Redskins vs. Cowboys Betting

  • Redskins +105
  • Cowboys -125

In picking games straight-up for moneyline odds, my philosophy involves taking a look at the way that the two teams match up holistically, in order to determine which team has the mental advantage.

In my experience, when a team is able to maintain its mental toughness for the entire 60-minute contest, they’re generally able to limit those mistakes that cost games and win. On the other hand, when a team loses focus mistakes pile up, like errant throws, dropped balls, penalties, turnovers, and so on. After enough of these mistakes, the game spirals out of control and ends in a loss.

The first place I generally look to determine which team has the mental edge is home field advantage.

However, in this game, it’s pretty apparent that the Cowboys will not get a significant boost from playing at home. First of all, they’ve already played 6 games at home this season and they’ve already lost four of them. Secondly, when you look back at the history of this rivalry, over the last five years we’ve seen these two teams win in the visiting stadium time and time again.

In heated division rivalries, which team is playing at home generally doesn’t make a huge difference if the teams are evenly matched. There’s a familiarity there that cancels out home field advantage.

So if home field advantage isn’t going to be a major mental factor impacting which team makes more mistakes, then what about desperation? Having something to play for certainly gives a team a greater motivation to continue playing with heart even under adverse conditions.

As I mentioned in the introduction above, this game is a must-win for both teams. The only question is which coach will be able to get playoff momentum going.

When these two teams played last, in Week 8, almost exactly a month ago, they were in extremely different circumstances. The Cowboys were playing with Sean Lee (he had 9 combined tackles), and the Redskins were playing with Chris Thompson (he had 94 combined yards). The Cowboys won that game, in Washington, 33–19.

Since their last matchup, disaster has struck for both teams. But they’ve handled disaster differently.

The Redskins have struggled, going 2–2 in the last four games since playing the Cowboys, but even in the midst of devastating injuries, they’ve still played hard. They beat the Seahawks, put up 30 points on a great Vikings defense, took the dynamic Saints to overtime in New Orleans, and then beat the Giants.

The Cowboys, on the other hand, followed their win over the Redskins with a win over the struggling Chiefs, and then lost three straight to the Falcons, Eagles, and Chargers. In each of these three losses, Dallas didn’t even get to double digits on offense, with point totals of 7, 9, and 6 points, respectively, and lost by an average of over 23 points.

Quite frankly, I don’t believe that the Cowboys have what it takes to be competitive at this point in the season. Jason Garrett has shown himself to be quite incapable of changing anything about the way the Cowboys play when their missing their star players, and with neither Zeke Elliott nor Sean Lee returning, I don’t see anything about their recent performances reversing itself.

I think the division rival Redskins will stock up on film study over the course of the week, and then feast on the deficiencies that they find in their hated rival on Thursday Night Football.

Pick: Redskins to win

  • Redskins +1.5 (-115)
  • Cowboys -1.5 (-105)

Given the fact that the Redskins are road underdogs in this game (for some reason), the fact that I’ve picked Washington to win this game straight-up means that I’ve also made my pick against the spread.

Usually, when picking games against the spread, my philosophy involves taking a look at the way that the winning team’s offense matches up against the losing team’s defense.

In my experience, when a team is able to both stay mentally tough enough to win the game and also matches up well enough on offense to score points, they’ll generally be able to win both straight-up and against the spread. On the other hand, when the losing team’s defense is able to generate stops, they’ll generally keep the game close enough to cover.

In this case, to shore up my case for a Redskins road underdog victory, I’ll take a look at the matchup.

At this point, everyone is aware that without Sean Lee, the Cowboys’ defense completely falls apart. The most pronounced difference has been in the number of rush yards given up, but the fact of the matter is that there is simply a gaping hole in the defense when Lee goes out. And however the Cowboys try to fill that hole, they end up losing their ability to cover some major component.

Last week on Thanksgiving against the Chargers, the Cowboys didn’t give up so many rushing yards (81 yards given up), but this left them vulnerable in the passing game (434 yards given up).

Over the course of the last three games (all without Lee), Dallas has given up an average of 30.7 points, an average of 411.3 total yards, and has generated only 1 turnover. For reference, in the three games prior, Dallas had 7 takeaways, had allowed an average of 299.3 total yards, and had allowed an average of 15.3 points per game.

At the same time that the Cowboys’ defense has been absolutely falling off a cliff without Sean Lee, the Redskins’ offense has been holding up without Chris Thompson.

Thompson had touched the ball 5 times in Week 11 against the New Orleans Saints when the 27-year old running back fractured his right fibula, later to be placed on IR. The rub, of course, was that for the entire season up to that point, Thompson had led the team in not only rushing yards but also in passing yards – he was Washington’s entire offense, pretty much.

But even in the absence of Thompson, Washington has held its own in the last few games.

The bigger issue for the Redskins’ offense was the other injuries, to Jordan Reed and to various offensive linemen and wide receivers. But despite these injuries, over the last three games, the Redskins have averaged 27.0 points, 391.0 total yards, and have turned the ball over only twice on offense.

To me, this is a no-brainer: Over the last three games, the Redskins’ offense has surged despite massive injuries against good defenses, and nothing has happened to change their situation. Meanwhile, the Cowboys’ defense has absolutely fallen apart because of only one injury (albeit against good offenses), and nothing has happened that would change their situation.

Don’t overthink this one. The trends over the last few weeks clearly indicate a Redskins’ win in Dallas.

Pick: Redskins to win, covering the spread

FootballTotal Score
  • Over 44 (-110)
  • Under 44 (-110)

Now that I’ve made my pick for the Redskins to win in Dallas because of the struggles that the Cowboys have been going through on both sides of the ball and the obvious inability of head coach Jason Garrett to turn things around, it’s now time to ask the question of whether this game will be generally high- or low-scoring.

When picking games for the total score over/under bet, my philosophy involves taking a look at the way that the winning team’s defense matches up against the losing team’s offense.

In my experience, when a team is able to both score enough points to win against the spread and able to match up well enough on defense to generate stops, they will generally be able to control the flow and timing of the game to such a degree that the total score will go under. On the other hand, if the opposing team is able to score points on offense, the game can turn into a shootout that pushes the over.

In this game, the matchup to watch for the total score over/under is Washington’s D vs. Dallas’s O.

In my opinion, the real question to ask here is whether the Cowboys will be able to turn things around and start scoring points again, and the simple answer is no.

The Cowboys’ struggles on offense are downright inexplicable. They really only lost Ezekiel Elliott; they’ve had minor offensive line injuries, but nothing major. Between Dak Prescott, Scott Linehan, and Jason Garrett, they should be able to adapt. After all, they knew that Zeke’s suspension was coming; they’ve known for months in advance.

And yet, somehow, the Cowboys have still been completely unable to score points.

Averaging under 8 points of offense for three consecutive games with the talent that the Cowboys have, indicates a team that is completely mismanaged, and this does not get turned around in one game. I like the Cowboys to score so few points that the total score of this game goes under 44.

Pick: Cowboys 13, Redskins 27

FootballProp Bets

Now that I’ve made my overall prediction for the game, let’s see if we can’t profit off of this view by investing in some prop bets. Specifically, I believe the following props will hold value:

  • Ryan Kerrigan to go over his posted total for sacks. The stud pass rusher for the Redskins had two sacks last week against the Giants, and now he should be going up against the backup right tackle for the Cowboys if Zach Martin can’t clear the concussion protocol. Kerrigan gets home.
  • The Cowboys go under their posted total for first downs. Dallas hit their season low for first downs in a game two weeks ago against the Eagles, then matched it on Thanksgiving against the Chargers. Meanwhile, the Redskins have allowed the fewest 1st downs in the league this year.
  • Samaje Perine to go over his posted total for rush yards. Since Chris Thompson went out, Perine has 47 carries for 217 yards (4.62 yards per carry) and two total touchdowns. Dallas’s rush defense has been terrible in the absence of Sean Lee, so I like Perine to run all over Big D.

In addition to these live, in-game bets that will unfold Thursday Night, I’d also like to direct your attention to the following future bets:

  • Washington Redskins to make the playoffs. The Redskins are a long-shot to make the playoffs given that the Eagles are going to win the NFC East and the Wild Card race is surprisingly tight in the NFC. But if the Seahawks fall off, the Redskins could surge; they have a very easy schedule.
  • Jason Garrett for first coach fired. The Cowboys are surprisingly healthy right now; they’re really only missing Sean Lee and Ezekiel Elliot. For them to completely fall off the wagon simply because two players went out, falls on the shoulders of the head coach; I think he gets the ax.
  • Dallas Cowboys to go under their win total. The Cowboys opened in the offseason with a win total of 9.5, and most people were taking the over because of their 13–3 season last year. If you can find a win total at 9.0 or 8.5, take the under; I don’t see any way the Cowboys get above 8–8.

When you watch this game on Thursday Night Football, don’t just watch to see which bets are going to pay out. Keep an eye out for clues to the following future bets above, and thank me later.

Summary: Best Bets

For the Week 13 edition of Thursday Night Football, fans and gamblers across the league get to watch a heated NFC East rivalry between the Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys. And in this case, it’s all but certain that the loser will miss the playoffs.

I believe that loser will be the Dallas Cowboys. Jason Garrett has been totally unable to turn things around since losing Zeke Elliott and Sean Lee, and I see the Redskins taking advantage. I’m envisioning Samaje Perine running roughshod all over the Cowboys, and I think Ryan Kerrigan will terrorize Dak Prescott, particularly if Zach Martin is out.

In order to profit off of this view of the game, here are my best bets:

  • Redskins +105 moneyline
  • Redskins +1.5 against the spread (-115)
  • The total score to go under 44 (-110)
  • Ryan Kerrigan to go over his posted total for sacks
  • The Cowboys go under their posted total for first downs
  • Samaje Perine to go over his posted total for rush yards

Both of these teams are 5–6, and history tells us that 5–7 teams only make the playoffs 4% of the time. If the Cowboys or the Redskins hope to compete for a Wild Card spot in the NFC, this one is a must-win.



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