Welcome to a special Tuesday Night Football betting breakdown, where I’ll be examining the 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 that I feel has profit potential.
The Dallas Cowboys and Baltimore Ravens will face off at M & T Bank Stadium for a game that was rescheduled from Thursday night, Dec. 3 as part of the Ravens’ rash of COVID-19 infections. Many of those will have run their course by the time this game kicks off, including the one of with the biggest impact by far — Lamar Jackson’s. Additionally, running backs Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins should be available after both were allowed back in the team facility Friday.
Each squad enters this game reeling yet with a shot at the postseason. The Cowboys are an unsightly 3-8. However, in the one-man’s-trash-is-another-man’s-treasure NFC East, that only puts them one game out of first place. Meanwhile, Baltimore has dropped three straight contests to fall to 6-5 yet is still in the AFC wild-card hunt.
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.
While the circumstances surrounding this game have been 2020-level unusual, the fact Baltimore is due back the majority of its key COVID-affected pieces helps largely normalize this matchup from a betting perspective.
I’m analyzing this matchup under the assumption that Jackson, Ingram and Dobbins will all be available in their usual capacities. There’s also a solid chance star tight end Mark Andrews suits up for Baltimore. Andrews’ outlook is a bit less certain than that of his teammates because he was dealing with a thigh issue prior to landing on the COVID list.
As long as Jackson has the majority of his weapons, he and his offensive arsenal will run into a matchup that dovetails perfectly with how they’re best suited to attack. The Cowboys find themselves in the bottom 10 of the league in total yards allowed per game (382.0), dead last in rushing yards per game (156.4) and adjusted line yards per carry (4.91) surrendered and 29th in RB yards per tote (4.85) given up. Then, while Dallas has done a reasonably good job against the pass on the surface (225.6 PY allowed per game). Nevertheless, they’ve benefited from playing four of their 11 games against the pedestrian air attacks of their NFC East brethren and have still surrendered the most passing touchdowns (24) while nabbing the second-fewest interceptions (four).
As was the case last season, the Ravens lead the NFL in rush play percentage, keeping it on the ground a league-high 52.28 percent of their snaps from scrimmage. That’s helped lead to the third-most rushing yards per game (157.6), including an NFL-high 164.8 per home contest. And, while Jackson isn’t on the same 1,000-yard pace he was last season, he’s still gained his 575 rushing yards and three TDs at 5.6 yards per carry. Dallas has done a reasonably good job preventing QB rushing production – the ‘Boys have limited signal-callers to 167 rushing yards and a touchdown at an average of 3.97 yards per attempt – but needless to say, Jackson is generally matchup-proof when it comes to his ability to create with his legs.
As enticing as the matchup might be for the Ravens, it’s the diametric opposite for the Andy Dalton-helmed Cowboys offense. The veteran quarterback knows this Baltimore defense intimately after years of facing it during his AFC North days. Those interactions haven’t always been kind to Dalton in recent seasons. The current Dallas field general has completed well under 60.0 percent of his passes in each of his last five games against the Ravens. Baltimore does have some injury concerns in the secondary with Jimmy Smith once again ailing due to a Week 12 groin injury and starting strong safety Chuck Clark dealing with a bit of a knee issue.
However, Clark particularly could play Tuesday and the Ravens check in giving up the ninth-fewest passing yards per game (221.5) and third-lowest yards per attempt (6.0). Additionally, Baltimore has racked up 27 sacks through 11 games, while the Cowboys are working with a significantly depleted offensive line that will now be without what had been its best remaining healthy piece in Zack Martin (calf). Even with Martin having missed only two prior games, Dallas is already tied with the Lions for fourth-most sacks allowed (31).
Finally, it’s worth noting the Ravens are ranked in the top half of the league in rushing yards allowed per game (111.6), even though they’ve given up some occasional chunk gains. However, it appears key run-stopper Brandon Williams has a chance to overcome his ankle injury and play Tuesday, while line mate Calais Campbell may come off the COVID-19 list for this contest with this game taking place just a day short of two weeks after he received the designation.
Ultimately, with the Ravens offense appearing on track to be at or very near full strength, I see their ability to control a game with their ground attack as making the difference. Baltimore is also increasingly desperate in terms of its playoff chances, while Dallas, despite having three fewer wins, arguably can stand to lose yet another game and still have a fighting chance in their division.
The Pick: Ravens moneyline (-350 or better)
MNF Point Spread
The Cowboys are 2-9 (NFL-low 18.2 percent) against the spread this season, including 1-4 (25.0 percent) as a road team and 1-1 in non-conference matchups.
The Ravens are 5-6 (45.5 percent) against the spread this season, including 2-3 (40.0 percent) as a home team and 0-2 in non-conference matchups.
As long as Baltimore has a robust offensive arsenal, I see them as having a chance of eventually separating enough from Dallas, which has an 8.6-point average margin of defeat on the road.
The Lean: Ravens -7.5 or better (Line as of Saturday, 12/5)
MNF Over/Under Total
The Over is 6-5 (54.5 percent) in Dallas’ games this season, including 2-3 (40.0 percent) in its road games and 1-1 in its non-conference matchups.
Then, the Over is 4-7 (36.4 percent) in Baltimore’s games this season, including 4-2 (66.7 percent) in its games as a home team and 2-0 in its non-conference matchups.
The Cowboys are averaging the third-fewest points per road game (18.2) and have the fourth-lowest red-zone touchdown success rate (50.0 percent). In turn, the Ravens are allowing the third-fewest points per contest (19.5) and the fourth-fewest points per drive (1.73).
While there are big names on both team’s offenses, I see the factors just cited and Dallas’ failure to achieve game-long continuity on offense against a tough defense conspiring and allowing the Under to come through.
The Pick: Under 45.0 points or better
Best MNF Prop Bets
Andy Dalton Over 20.5 completions (+100 or better)
This is an interesting prop to consider at plus money, as several metrics appear to line up in Dalton’s favor with respect to exceeding the benchmark.
To begin with, the Ravens are allowing an average of 24.3 completions per game. Then, Dalton is upping his chances of connecting with his pass catchers by averaging just 5.7 yards per attempt, which dovetails with the fact Baltimore allows the third-lowest YPA (6.0). Additionally, Dalton has completed no fewer than 22 passes in any of his three non-injury-shortened starts and has three particularly sure-handed targets in Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Dalton Schultz, in addition to deep threat Michael Gallup. Ezekiel Elliott is also an above-average outlet option.
Finally, consider six out of the last eight QBs Baltimore has faced have completed at least 21 passes, with the only exceptions being Cam Newton in a game he logged just 18 attempts in, and Joe Burrow, who fell just short with 19 while taking seven sacks.