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.