The middle game of this year’s Thanksgiving Day NFL tripleheader pits two of America’s most popular franchises against one another. Plenty of eyeballs will be on Thursday afternoon’s matchup between the Las Vegas Raiders and Dallas Cowboys. While both teams started off the season strong, they have been trending in very different directions regarding on-field performance recently. The NFL betting odds reflect this, listing the home side as a touchdown favorite ahead of this Thanksgiving showdown.
Opening Lines: Cowboys -7; O/U 54.5
Current Lines: Cowboys -7.5; O/U 51.5
Location: AT&T Stadium — Arlington, TX
Start Time: 4:30 p.m. EDT
Last Meeting: December 17, 2017 — The Cowboys defeated the Raiders 20-17 in Oakland.
The Raiders enter this Thanksgiving Day showdown on a three-game losing streak. After a terrific start to the season, Las Vegas has come crashing back down to .500 and appears to be a dead team walking in the wake of numerous off-field distractions. The offense was listless in a lopsided home loss to the Cincinnati Bengals last week. The Raiders converted just one of seven third downs for the game. After starting the season looking like an MVP contender, Derek Carr has faltered dramatically in recent weeks. The lack of a stable ground game and viable weapons outside of tight end Darren Waller has this team facing an uphill battle on every possession.
Essentially, a poor offense that doesn’t move and possess the ball hurts a decent defense.
You can’t expect a defense to be on the field for 35-37 minutes in back-to-back games and not gas out. #Raiders defense isn’t great, but it’s not getting much support either.
— Maurice Moton (@MoeMoton) November 22, 2021
The absence of offensive production and sustained drives led to the Raiders’ defense being on the field for over 37 minutes against Cincinnati last week. While they were able to hold the fort for a while, fatigue certainly caught up to them down the stretch. Las Vegas’ defensive secondary is shorthanded as it is. Being forced to spend nearly two-thirds of a game on the field is a recipe for disaster. The onus will be on the Raiders’ offense to rebound in Thursday’s NFL betting matchup.
The Cowboys also enter their annual Thanksgiving Day home game off a loss, falling 19-9 in a surprising defensive affair to the Kansas City Chiefs last Sunday. Dallas was without wideout Amari Cooper in that game and will likely be without him again on Thursday, all due to a certain virus. Fellow receiver CeeDee Lamb also was knocked out of Sunday’s loss with a concussion and has yet to practice this week. Luckily, lead running back Ezekiel Elliott was a full participant in Tuesday’s practice after sustaining a knee injury in last week’s contest. Even though they will be at less than full strength, the Cowboys are still hefty NFL betting favorites ahead of Thursday’s tilt.
Cowboys LB/DE Micah Parsons told teammates someone needs to get three INTs or three sacks on Thanksgiving — a three of some kind. "However it gets done to hit a turkey dance, and make sure you say 'Happy Thanksgiving' after. I'm hoping somebody gets it done. Hopefully, it's me."
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) November 23, 2021
It should be noted that last week’s low-scoring result was not totally out of line for what the Cowboys’ defense has accomplished so far this season. Dallas enters Week 12 ranked fourth in overall adjusted defensive efficiency. Micah Parsons is the runaway favorite to win the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award. He only bolstered his case last week with two more sacks. Parsons and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn deserve a ton of credit for turning around a unit that was one of the worst in the NFL a year ago.
- Raiders are just 2-6 ATS in their last eight games.
- The total has gone over in ten of the Raiders’ last 15 games.
- Cowboys are 8-2 ATS on the season.
- Four of the Cowboys’ last five games have gone under the total.
- Cowboys are 7-10 ATS over the last 17 seasons in their annual Thanksgiving Day home game.
Given the struggles of Derek Carr and the Raiders’ entire offense in recent weeks, it’s hard to envision them generating much success against a vastly improved Cowboys defense. While Las Vegas has also struggled to stop opponents, the fact that Dallas will likely be without their top two receivers looms large. What would have been a terrific matchup for Dak Prescott and a loaded Cowboys’ receiving corps to take advantage of no longer feels quite as lopsided.
That being said, the Raiders’ secondary is still vulnerable, and Dallas should be able to do enough to win. Whether or not they can cover the 7.5-point spread is much more debatable. Given the personnel issues that both offenses carry into this game, bettors have multiple reasons to follow the market line move and play under the total.
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