Prescott, Cowboys touchdown favorite against Bucs for Sunday night

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A touchdown spread seems a trifle high since the Dallas Cowboys seem to be cooling off and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the hottest defense in the NFL.

The Cowboys are listed as seven-point favorites against the Buccaneers with a 46.5-point total for Sunday Night Football at sportsbooks monitored by the OddsShark.com. Dallas has not covered in any of its last three games, two of which were away from AT&T Stadium.

However, the Cowboys are 18-6 straight-up in their last 24 home games after consecutive road games.

The host Cowboys, who are 11-2 SU and 9-3-1 ATS, will likely try to set the tone for the night by relying on NFL rushing leader Ezekiel Elliott to carry them while running behind the likes of RG Zack Martin, C Travis Frederick and LT Tryon Smith. Tampa Bay is below-average at stopping the run, allowing 4.3 yards per attempt.

The passing phase could be problematic for Dallas. Rookie QB Dak Prescott has struggled of late, but conversely Tampa Bay leads the NFL in opponents’ quarterback rating since Week 10 and has a strong pass rush led by DE Robert Ayers.

The Buccaneers can match up a strong set of cornerbacks, Brent Grimes and Vernon Hargreaves, against WR Dez Bryant and WR Terrance Williams. They had three interceptions last week against New Orleans’ Drew Brees, who has been in the NFL since Prescott was in elementary school.

The Buccaneers are 8-5 SU and 8-5 ATS thanks to their five-game win streak. Quarterback Jameis Winston, WR Mike Evans and TE Cameron Brate have helped Tampa Bay make a vast improvement in the passing phase, which made a difference during their recent statement wins against the Kansas City Chiefs and Seattle Seahawks.

Winston should be able to keep the first-down chains moving on Sunday, but how many points Tampa Bay puts up might vary depending on whether Dallas (five interceptions, 31st in the NFL) continues to struggle at causing turnovers and how well the Buccaneers do in the red zone.

Tampa Bay has the lowest yards per rush (3.5) of any team with at least 340 attempts, so Cowboys OLB Sean Lee should have plenty of chances to make big hits. The Buccaneers won’t win many games on the margin of their running game, but they certainly aren’t going to junk it and leave Winston in a one-dimensional scheme that’s easy to defend.

The total has gone over on the NFL betting lines at the sportsbooks in six of the Buccaneers’ last seven games at night.

Patriots favored against Falcons in Super Bowl rematch

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It’s rare that the New England Patriots and Tom Brady are laying so few points at home, but then again, it’s been even longer since the Pats were dead last in the NFL in defense.

In a rematch of last season’s Super Bowl, if not necessarily a preview of this season’s, the Patriots are three-point favorites for Sunday night against the Atlanta Falcons with a 56.5-point total at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

There have been only four games dating to 2009 when the Patriots were favored by 3.0 or fewer points in a regular-season home game, and they are 4-0 straight-up and 3-0-1 against the spread in that small sample. Counting Super Bowl LI, the Falcons are 0-5 SU and ATS in their last five games against the Patriots according to the OddsShark NFL Database.

The Patriots are 14-3 SU in their last 17 night games, but only 2-2 in the last four.

The Falcons, who are 3-2 SU and 2-3 ATS, are still a top-5 offense with QB Matt Ryan at the controls but have not shown the same dynamism they did while winning the NFC in 2016. New England has been dismal in coverage, ranking last in the NFL in yards per game (440.7) and yards per pass (8.6) allowed. Two of its top three cornerbacks, Stephen Gilmore (concussion) and Eric Rowe (groin), are iffy to play.

The Patriots might be stretched too thin to cover three-wideout looks with WRs Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu and Taylor Gabriel; after all, this is a unit that was last seen allowing 354 yards to the New York Jets’ Josh McCown.

One reason why Atlanta is 9-2 SU and ATS in its last 11 road games is due to the stability of the 1-2 punch of RB Devonta Freeman and RB Tevin Coleman. One way to beat the Patriots is to outscore them, and Atlanta would seem to be capable of such if it curbs its turnover problems.

The Patriots, who are 4-2 SU and 2-4 ATS, are No. 1 in the NFL in total offense and passing yards thanks to Brady, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Brandin Cooks and slot WRs Danny Amendola and Chris Hogan. The Falcons defense is allowing just 6.1 yards per pass, but it has not been making many disruption plays (12 sacks and only three takeaways), which teams need a few of against the Patriots in order to get Brady out of rhythm.

New England is 5-0 SU and ATS in its last five games against Atlanta but, of course, that required an epic combination of collapse and comeback during the Super Bowl. In the present, the Patriots offense is a little pass-heavy, ranking 21st in the NFL in yards per rush while relying mostly on RB Mike Gillislee. That’s unlikely to strike much fear into the hearts of Atlanta.

The game has the highest total of the week, but the total has gone over in 19 of the Falcons’ last 24 games and has also gone over in all three of the Patriots’ home games this season. The total has gone over in the Patriots’ last five games at home against teams with winning records.

For more info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the new OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes, or check it out at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

Texans set to host Chiefs in a pick’em betting matchup on Sunday night

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The prospect of untested linemen trying to block the likes of J.J. Watt has the sharps projecting the Kansas City Chiefs for their first loss of the season. The Houston Texans and the Chiefs, the NFL’s last unbeaten team, meet in a Sunday Night Football matchup that has moved to a pick’em on the betting lines at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Chiefs were initially laying 3.5 points against the Texans, who they are a 3-1 straight-up against in their last four meetings, but QB Alex Smith (ankle) might have to be careful with an injury, while various ailments will mean backups will step in for RG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and C Mitch Morse.

Each team takes an extreme against-the-spread trend into this rematch. The Chiefs are 8-0 SU and ATS in their last eight road games. The Texans are 3-21-1 ATS in their last 25 games at night.

The Chiefs, who are 4-0 SU and ATS, have endless ways to attack a defense and get linebackers to take themselves out of the play. That could mean some big opportunities for RB Kareem Hunt in both the rushing and passing phases. Smith, who has the NFL’s highest passer rating, will need to be somewhat nimble to avoid the Texans’ fierce pass rush of Watt, OLB Jadeveon Clowney and OLB Whitney Mercilus.

Houston is allowing 7.6 yards per pass, 23rd in the NFL, so there’s questions of whether the Texans will be able to keep WR Tyreek Hill and TE Travis Kelce completely contained.

The Texans are 2-2 SU and 3-1 ATS. Three starts into his NFL career, QB Deshaun Watson has shown that his mobility and vision can flummox even legendary defensive minds such as New England coach Bill Belichick and Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau.

Against a pass rush that will once again not have OLB Dee Ford (back) to pair with OLB Justin Houston, Watson might be able to buy some time with his legs. That could give an extra advantage to the WR combo of Will Fuller and DeAndre Hopkins, who have a tough matchup on the outside against the CB tandem of Marcus Peters and Terrance Mitchell for some long-yardage strikes.

Houston is 1-8 SU in its last nine Week 5 games, but seem to finally have a balanced offense, with RB Lamar Miller churning out yards between the tackles and also catching short-range passes. The total has gone under in three of the Chiefs’ last four games against the Texans, according to the OddsShark NFL Database. The total has gone over in 11 of the Texans’ last 13 games in October.

For more info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the new OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes, or check it out at OddsShark.libsyn.com.