We have come full circle on "Thursday Night Football," as the Tennessee Titans host the Dallas Cowboys in the season's final installment. There have been a few decent matchups mixed in, but most of the schedule has been for bettors only.
Casual fans likely found it tough to sit through the quarterback play of Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan, Marcus Mariota or Carson Wentz week after week unless they had some action on the outcome. Unsurprisingly, that's exactly how we will get through this one.
The Tennessee Titans are desperately hanging on to their postseason chances, but you wouldn't know by their list of inactives. With next week's game against Jacksonville for the division title looming, the Titans will be sitting most critical contributors on both sides of the ball. They announced eight players as out, with Derrick Henry and Denico Autry listed as doubtful.
On the other hand, the Cowboys will be highly motivated with the door still open for the NFC's No.1 seed. Laying double digits with Dallas in a game with a total under 40 is too rich for me, but here are two bets at plus-money odds that provide decent value on tonight's matchup.
There isn't a better bet in the NFL right now than the Cowboys offense. It's in peak form facing an unmotivated Titans defense, which will likely be without its top two pass-rushers in Jeffrey Simmons and Denico Autry. The Cowboys dropped 40 points on one of the best defenses in the NFL last week and have averaged an eye-popping 36 points per game since Dak Prescott returned from injury in Week 7. They eclipsed this number in seven of their last eight games and scored 27 points against Houston when they fell short. The big mismatch here is Dak Prescott against the leaky secondary in Tennessee.
The Titans defense ranks 27th in Pass DVOA and has relinquished more first downs (12.6 per game) through the air than all but three teams. It will feel like a 7-on-7 drill for Prescott, who will operate in a clean pocket all night without Tennessee's top pass rushers active. The Cowboys quarterback is coming off consecutive performances where he completed 75% of his passes and threw for three touchdowns in each game. Expect Prescott to shred the Titans with weapons like Ceedee Lamb and Michael Gallup at his disposal. Getting this number at +130 is an easy bet for me.
If you don't want all of your eggs in the Cowboys offense basket, here is a parlay to spread the exposure a bit. This bet gets the Dallas spread under the key number of 7. The Cowboys closed as four-point favorites to the Eagles with Gardner Minshew just last week, so laying an additional 2.5 points with this depleted Titans team is a bargain. The Cowboys should cruise here, so leading at halftime is very reasonable. They are sixth in first-half scoring, but their 18.3 points over the past three weeks rank behind only Kansas City. Plus, the short spread and the halftime/final moneylines decrease the chances of a backdoor cover in case Dallas gets out to a big lead and rests the starters late.
Dallas has only been involved in two games this year that failed to produce over 34.5 points — the first game of the season and Prescott's first game back from injury. So I'm comfortable betting they can do enough of the heavy lifting against this Titans defense to get the total over 34.5.