Dallas Cowboys (7-6 SU, 7-6 ATS, 6-7 O/U) vs. Oakland Raiders (6-7 SU, 4-8-1 ATS, 5-8 O/U)
NFL: Sunday, December 17, 2017 at 8:30 p.m. EST
The Dallas Cowboys will be trying to win their third game in a row and remain in distant playoff contention when they visit the Oakland Raiders at the O.co Coliseum on Sunday night. Dallas is coming off consecutive victories over Washington and the Giants. Although a meager 6-7 following a recent loss to Kansas City, the Raiders are just one game back in the AFC West.
Where have all the Cowboys gone?
The absence of Cowboys’ running back Ezekiel Elliott has been well-documented. He finally began serving a six-game suspension when Dallas paid a visit to Atlanta in Week 10. Five games have elapsed, which means Elliott will be on the sideline this Sunday before being eligible to return next week against Seattle. The former Ohio State standout was not the only played on his team missing from this past weekend’s 30-10 road victory over the Giants. Defensive tackle David Irving had to sit an watch because of a concussion, cornerback Orlando Scandrick (day-to-day with a back injury) could not suit up, and receiver Brice Butler (foot) is hoping to return to face his former squad in Oakland. Irving is expected to be ready for Sunday’s date with the Raiders.
Of course, the Cowboys still had no trouble disposing of their NFC East rival. Quarterback Dak Prescott delivered a much-needed stellar performance–one of his best in 2017–with 332 yards and three touchdowns on 20-for-30 passing. The defense picked off Eli Manning twice and limited New York to just 102 rushing yards. Dallas’ own ground game, though, continued to struggle without Elliott. Rod Smith turned only six carries into 47 yards as a score, but the team as a while finished with 122 yards on 31 attempts.
Carr not in cruise control
The Raiders’ inability to run the ball this season has been putting a lot of pressure on quarterback Derek Carr. Oakland is 26th in the NFL in rushing at 91.5 yards per game. Nobody on the roster has more than 619 yards on the ground (Marshawn Lynch) and nobody other than Lynch has more than 233 (Jalen Richard). Lynch got only seven carries in last weekend’s 26-15 setback against AFC West rival Kansas City, which he at least managed to turn into 61 yards and a touchdown. In turn, Carr has been shouldering the load as is doing so with less success than he did when he put himself in the NFL MVP mix in 2016. The former Fresno State signal-caller has endured four games with two interceptions, the fourth of which came against the Chiefs. He has been picked off at least once in four of his last six outings, with a total of six INTs during this stretch. Carr went 24-of-41 with 211 yards, one score, and two interceptions in the loss to Kansas City.
It may not help that the Raiders sent receiver Amari Cooper back out there against K.C. Cooper was questionable with an ankle injury but played and re-aggravated the issue before leaving in the second quarter. Cooper has 42 catches for 499 yards and five TDs in basically what amounts to just 10 full appearances this season due to various injuries.
The Dallas Cowboys are:
- 4-1 ATS in their last five road games
- 5-1 ATS in their last six road games against opponents with losing home records
- 7-2 ATS in their last nine games against teams with losing records
The Oakland Raiders are:
- 2-8-1 ATS in their last 11 overall
- 1-6-1 ATS in their last eight games against teams with winning records
- 2-7-1 ATS in their last 10 games on grass
The Cowboys should be getting some of their guys back on Sunday–albeit not Elliott. They also appear to be more capable than Oakland of getting the job done shorthanded. With Carr mired in a relative struggle this season and failing to get much support from the ground attack, Cooper being absent would be a serious blow to the home team. The Cowboys are 4-1 ATS in their last five on the road, 7-2 ATS in their last nine against losing opponents, 5-1 ATS in their last six on the road against opponents with losing home records, and 17-5 ATS in their last 22 on grass. Oakland is 2-8-1 ATS in its last 11 overall, 1-6-1 ATS in its last eight against winning opponents, 2-7-1 ATS in its last 10 on grass, and 0-4-1 ATS in its last five after rushing for less than 90 yards in its previous outing. Don’t be surprised if those trends continue.
Pick: Dallas Cowboys -3
Will the real Cowboys please stand up? They have scored 68 points in their last two contests, but they had previously been held to less than 10 points in three consecutive outings. On the bright side, a defense that should be getting healthy will likely have little trouble against the Raiders. Oakland is a mediocre 19th in the league in total offense and 21st in scoring offense. The under is 5-1 in the Cowboys’ last six overall, 17-6 in their last 23 on the road, 5-2 in their last seven against losing opponents, 6-2 in their last eight on the road against opponents with losing home records, 12-5 in their last 17 on grass, and 8-1 in their last nine in December. It is also 4-0 in the Raiders’ last four overall, 4-1 in their last five at home, 4-0 in their last four on grass, and 4-1 in their last five in December. Look for this one to stay under the total.