Welcome to the Monday Night Football betting breakdown, where each week I’ll provide a detailed betting overview of the upcoming Monday Night Football game utilizing moneyline, points spread and projected total odds from DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook. I’ll also highlight at least one player- or game-based prop each week that I feel has profit potential.
The 2020 Week 6 MNF features a potentially high-scoring conference showdown between the Arizona Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys at AT & T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The two teams were once division mates in the NFC East before realignment occurred prior to the 2002 season. As such, the franchises have a long history, having met a total of 89 times going into Monday night’s contest.
The two clubs come in with similar records but very different circumstances at the all-important quarterback position. The Cardinals’ Kyler Murray is coming off a season-high 380 yards passing against the Jets in Week 5 and is enjoying a very successful start to his sophomore season. Meanwhile, the Cowboys just lost franchise player Dak Prescott for the season with an ankle dislocation/fracture in a Week 5 win over the Giants, leaving the offense to veteran Andy Dalton for the duration of 2020.
All betting takes will be classified as a “pick” or “lean”, with considerations such as relevant injuries, past betting trends and recent performances of each team leading up to the game factoring in.
For more detailed information on this week’s matchup – including further game analysis, betting trends breakdown, betting tips specific to MNF, and a synopsis of the history of the line movement for the game, please see our Monday Night Football Betting Preview over at TheLines.
It’s been interesting to track the line movement for this game (more on that in the next section), which has seen the Cardinals go from one-time road underdogs pre-Week 5 Prescott injury to narrow favorites of varying degree.
One of the pivotal factors in this game will undoubtedly be the quarterback position. Arizona likely had to throw a good chunk of its advance scouting out the window with Dalton now replacing the much more mobile Prescott. Meanwhile, the Cowboys, already reeling defensively, will face the athletic Murray and his elite skillset for the first time. They’ll also be challenged to stop DeAndre Hopkins, who’s already compiled three 100-yard efforts in the desert and has the talent to overpower Dallas starting corners Jourdan Lewis and rookie Trevon Diggs.
The Cardinals have been relatively stingy against the pass. Patrick Peterson is allowing just a 58.2 passer rating and 42.9 percent completion rate in primary coverage over at left cornerback. Then, 2019 second-round pick Byron Murphy is yielding an even more impressive 34.4 percent of passes to be completed against him. But, the Cards are giving up 138.0 rushing yards per road game. Coach Mike McCarthy could therefore opt to lean on Ezekiel Elliott a bit more here than if Prescott were available.
The Cowboys have had plenty of issues stopping the run as well (169.7 rush yards per home game allowed), making this a possible spot for Kenyan Drake to bust out for his first 100-yard effort of the season. Complementary piece Chase Edmonds has logged just 19 carries all year, but he’s done some damage through the air (18-192-2 through five games) and is capable of taking it to the house any time he touches the ball.
Ultimately, the Cardinals, despite the loss of Chandler Jones (biceps), are the healthier team. Both offenses are explosive, but Dalton naturally won’t be in top form in his first game as a starter. Arizona’s fast-paced offense is also the last thing a Cowboys defense already surrendering 404.4 yards per game needs to see at the moment. As such, I’m in the camp of the Cards notching their third road win of the season in what should be a tight contest.
The Pick: Cardinals moneyline (-110 or better)
MNF Point Spread
The Cardinals are 3-2 against the spread this season, including 2-1 as a road team and 2-2 in conference matchups.
The Cowboys are 0-5 against the spread this season, including 0-3 as a home team and 0-4 in conference matchups.
The line has narrowed a full 1.5 points since the beginning of the week in terms of the Cowboys’ underdog status. While I can see Dallas rallying to a point around Dalton early, the combined reality of a tough Cardinals defense and the Cowboys’ makeshift offensive line becoming enough of an issue to allow Arizona to escape with a road cover.
The Lean: Cardinals -1 or better
MNF Over/Under Total
The Over is 0-5 in Arizona’s games this season, including 0-3 in its road games and 0-4 in its conference matchups.
Then, the Over is 4-1 (80.0 percent) in Dallas’ games this season, including 3-0 in its home games and 3-1 (75.0 percent) in its conference matchups.
This is one of the highest totals of the week on a ledger that has several games projected in the low 50s and up. I certainly don’t doubt the ability of either club to put up points – particularly the Cardinals against the Cowboys’ suspect defense – but I see Dallas as being less efficient with Dalton at the helm. Additionally, none of Arizona’s first five games have exceeded 52 points, as its defense is allowing the fifth-fewest points per contest (20.4).
Given the especially elevated number and expected acclimation curve with Dalton at the helm, I’m leaning toward the Under.
The Lean: Under 55.0 points or better
Best MNF Prop Bets
Ezekiel Elliott Over 89.5 rushing yards (-115 or better)
With Dalton in his first game as a full-time starter, Elliott may be leaned on a good bit as a steadying, keep-the-defense-honest component even more than usual. Considering the current caliber of Dallas’ defense, it’s likely in their best interest to keep Murray and his fast-paced attack off the field as much as possible. Given Arizona’s issues stopping the run on the road plus the fact Elliott is typically game-script-proof and has already exceeded this figure three times in his first five games, I see this is as a viable prop.
Kenyan Drake Over 57.5 rushing yards (-115 or better)
Despite not yet having a true breakout game, Drake has posted at least 60 rushing yards in four of five contests. He’s also logged between 16 and 20 carries on four occasions. In turn, Dallas is yielding the fourth-most rushing yards (631) to running backs, along with an average of 4.4 yards per carry.