Tampa Bay at Dallas Odds, Expert Pick & TV Info

Posted by Michael Hunt on Friday,December 16, 2016 8:50, EDT in

Arguably the marquee game of the week has the Dallas Cowboys playing on Sunday night for the second straight week as they look to clinch the NFC East title against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have won five straight to climb into first in the NFC South. The Cowboys are solid home favorites in NFL betting.

Tampa Bay at Dallas Odds, Expert Pick & TV Info

When: Sunday, Dec. 18, 8:30 PM ET
Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington
TV: NBC
RadioTampa Bay / Dallas
Stream Option: NFL Live
Opening NFL Lines: Cowboys -7 (46.5)

Why Bet on Tampa Bay?

The Bucs have won five in a row for the first time since 2002, their only Super Bowl season. They beat New- Orleans 16-11 last week. Doug Martin scored on a 1-yard run, Roberto Aguayo kicked three field goals and an improving defense intercepted Drew Brees three times while holding the NFL passing leader without a touchdown pass. Rookie Vernon Hargreaves III and Brent Grimes, cornerbacks brought during the offseason, to overhaul a secondary, had two of the interceptions. Safety Keith Tandy picked off the quarterback’s final pass on fourth-and- 1 from near midfield in the final minute.

The Bucs have a rising star in WR Mike Evans. He already has 10 touchdowns and 1,100 yards. Evans leads the NFL in targets. Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston has thrown the ball to him 146 times. In comparison, no player on the Cowboys has been targeted more than 84 times. Evans will have 20 or 30 pounds and at least five inches on whichever cornerback the Cowboys have on him at any given moment.

But the past two games, Evans has been limited to seven catches for 80 yards and no touchdowns, an average of 3.5 catches for 40 yards a game — well below his six-plus catches and 85-yard averages.

Opponents are regularly shadowing him with their best cornerback. Richard Sherman did it for much of the game against Seattle. The Cowboys are expected to do that this week with Brandon Carr, who shadowed the Giants’ Odell Beckham, Jr. last week.

Winston’s 14 career wins are the second-most by a quarterback before his 23rd birthday in NFL history. Winston’s birthday is January 6, so he has three more games left to break the record of 15 by Drew Bledsoe. Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter confirmed that fellow wide receiver Adam Humphries has officially cleared the NFL concussion protocol. He can play Sunday.

This will be the 16th regular-season meeting between the two teams but the first time the series has featured a clash of two first-place teams in December.

Why Bet on Dallas?

Dallas (11-2) can clinch both the NFC East division title and a first-round bye with a win and a New York Giants loss. If the Cowboys win and the game between the Giants and Detroit ends in a tie, Dallas will also secure home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

The Cowboys’ franchise-record 11-game winning streak ended last Sunday night in a 10-7 loss at the Giants. Many Dallas fans calling for the team to bench rookie QB Dak Prescott in favor of Tony Romo. In a Week 13 win at Minnesota, Prescott threw for only 139 yards and Dallas was 1-for- 9 on third down with season lows in points (17) and yards (264). Prescott got worse in the Week 14 loss at the Giants. He completed 17 of 37 for 165 yards and the first multi-interception game of his career with two. Dallas was 1-for- 15 on third down and had season lows in points (7) and yards (260).

Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said that Prescott has moved on from Sunday’s loss and “has had good days” at practice. Prescott remains the clear starter but Linehan added Tony Romo is “improving every day,” now that he is a month into a full-time practice routine. Romo has taken a handful of snaps with the first-team offense each day since he has returned.

Cowboys rookie RB Ezekiel Elliott has an NFL-high six 100-yard rushing games this season, and he’s surpassed 100 yards from scrimmage in nine of the Cowboys’ 13 outings. His 91 first downs produced are second only to David Johnson, and his 82 rushing first downs are easily the league’s best. Overall, Elliott has 1,392 rushing yards, 257 more than former Cowboy DeMarco Murray in second place, and he’s averaging 4.9 yards per tote with 12 total rushing touchdowns. The Cowboys run the ball on 62.3% of their first-down plays and 49.9% of their plays overall.

Dallas lost 10-6 at Tampa last year, but that was with Matt Cassel at QB and Prescott and Elliott still in college.

Tampa Bay at Dallas Expert Pick:

Cowboys are 0-4- 1 ATS in their last 5 games in December.
Under is 3-1- 1 in Buccaneers last 5 road games.

Take the points, go under the total on NFL odds.