• Dak Prescott under 0.5 Interceptions: The Titans' defense will likely consist of second-team players, so not only will they struggle in coverage, but they should also force fewer pressure situations against the best offensive line the Cowboys have fielded all season.
• Cowboys over 13.5 first-half points: The opt-outs on the Titans' side should drastically impact their defensive performance, and it's possible that we see a complete blowup spot for the Dak Prescott–led Cowboys offense for as long as they are in this game.
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL GAME LINES
The biggest challenge in handicapping this Thursday night matchup is factoring in the two sides' motivation, which always makes for a tricky betting situation.
With the Titans' playoff chances solely coming down to a Week 18 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, this game means absolutely nothing for the Titans' outlook. And rumors about Tennessee resting key players — especially those dealing with any sort of injury issue — started to swirl earlier in the week. After all, this has been the approach Mike Vrabel has utilized in the past.
This caused the +6 lookahead line to reopen at +10 at the start of this week, and we continue to drift further in the Cowboys' direction as we head toward kickoff.
The Titans' final injury report is a laundry list of who’s who, especially on the defensive side of the football. The expectation is that they will be without seven key contributors on defense.
PFF's betting model doesn’t show any value on either side of the spread or moneyline. PFF’s play-by-play simulation has the context of who is going to be missing but still can’t fully evaluate the motivation (or lack thereof) from the Titans' side. It fits closely to where we open up, but without the full added context baked in, this looks like a bet to avoid until more information can be understood in-game.
However, we do find value in the total going over the 39.5-point number: The opt-outs on the Titans' side should drastically impact their defensive performance, and it's possible that we see a complete blowup spot for the Dak Prescott–led Cowboys offense for as long as they are in this game.
Expect points, but it could be more one-sided than any of our betting tools think. With that expectation, targeting only the Cowboys in a bet looks like the best approach on Thursday night.
The game could get out of hand quickly, but betting on the Cowboys to score over 13.5 first-half points looks like one of the best options on the board. It’s right below the key number 14, it fits all of the narratives, and it plays into the expectation that Prescott and the Cowboys could also get some rest in the second half of this matchup.
- Cowboys over 13.5 first-half points (-120)
- Playable up to over 13.5 first-half points at -130
THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL PLAYER PROPS
Player props continue to be one of the best approaches to betting on the NFL. If interested in macro trends from the past three seasons, check out my midseason prop article here.
One way to consistently find defined edges without blindly betting unders is to utilize PFF's player props tool, as the ability to adjust both number and price means you are always certain of the expected value for each prop bet.
Let’s dive into the best player props to bet for the NFL Thursday night game.
Dak Prescott: Under 0.5 Interceptions (-115 at Barstool)
Prescott has the ninth-highest turnover-worthy play rate among quarterbacks with at least 200 dropbacks this season, but he has actually produced more turnover-worthy plays than interceptions this year.
Still, there are a few reasons why now could be the perfect time to buy into Prescott operating a clean game on Thursday night.
The Titans' defense will likely consist of second-team players, so not only will they struggle in coverage, but they should also force fewer pressure situations against the best offensive line the Cowboys have fielded all season.
We expect Dallas to lead for most of this game, and the majority of Prescott’s poor throws this season have come with his side trailing. With a reduction in volume also happening in this situation, Prescott not throwing an interception looks like one of the best player props to bet.
DERIVATIVE BETS & SAME-GAME PARLAY
Continuing to press on the Cowboys scoring early is likely the best path to cashing a longshot same-game parlay.
Running back Tony Pollard is looking questionable — and at best limited — in this matchup. And although the Cowboys just brought T.Y. Hilton into the fold, this looks like the perfect opportunity to finally start getting some of their secondary receiving options going.
The matchup can’t get much better, and both Noah Brown and Michael Gallup were hardly impacted by Hilton’s arrival, playing over 75% of offensive snaps and running a route on at least that percentage of dropbacks, as well.
Both are positive expected value (EV) to score a touchdown based on our current pricing, and although there may be a slight negative correlation to both scoring in the same game, it is a scenario that plays out 10% of the time in our simulations.
Folding in one additional leg of Dalton Schultz to go under his receiving yardage prop is a play our props tool likes and also offers some correlation to the other two secondary pass-catching options for the Cowboys getting an uptick in volume on Thursday night.
With CeeDee Lamb expected to get his usual share, the one experiencing the downtick could be Schultz. And if that happens, we should have plenty of opportunities to cash this same-game parlay.
- Noah Brown: Anytime touchdown scorer
- Michael Gallup: Anytime touchdown scorer
- Dalton Schultz: Under 38.5 receiving yards
Odds: +2985 at FanDuel
THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL Anytime TD Scorer (Pricing via BetMGM compared to PFF simulations)
|Player||BetMGM Price||Implied Probability||Simulation Probability||Value Difference|
Anytime TD pick: Michael Gallup (+300)