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Cowboys vs. Titans prediction: Bet on Dallas to steamroll slumping Tennessee

Look for the visiting Cowboys to cover huge number against free-falling, banged-up Titans

With help from wide receivers Michael Gallup (left) and CeeDee Lamb (right), the Cowboys are averaging 37.5 points in their last eight games heading into Thursday’s battle with the Titans in Tennessee. (Photo by Sam Hodde/Getty Images)
With help from wide receivers Michael Gallup (left) and CeeDee Lamb (right), the Cowboys are averaging 37.5 points in their last eight games heading into Thursday’s battle with the Titans in Tennessee. (Photo by Sam Hodde/Getty Images)Read moreSam Hodde / Getty Images

Back on Thanksgiving morning, the Cowboys vs. Titans matchup that kicks off Week 17 looked like one of the most compelling Thursday Night Football clashes of the season.

Tennessee was 7-3 and firmly in first place in the AFC South following a Thursday night upset victory in Green Bay. Dallas also was 7-3 following a 40-3 trouncing of the Vikings and about to move to 8-3 with a Thanksgiving win over the Giants.

Now? The Cowboys have locked up a playoff spot and still have an outside shot at winning the NFC East. Conversely, the Titans have dropped five straight games and are fighting for their postseason lives.

So the once-compelling Week 17 Thursday nighter now features Dallas as a double-digit road favorite — and the number keeps climbing.

Where does that leave us with our Cowboys vs. Titans prediction? Put it this way: We want no part of the team that just lost at home to the Houston Texans and that will field the equivalent of a preseason-game lineup.

Odds updated as of 7 p.m. ET on Dec. 28.

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Cowboys vs. Titans Prediction

  1. Cowboys -11 (at BetMGM)

Cowboys vs. Titans Prediction: Analysis

We came close to recommending the Over in this game, as the Cowboys have topped the total in five straight games and six of their last seven.

But it’s impossible to count on Tennessee’s offense to contribute anything in the points department — even against what has suddenly become a shaky Dallas defense.

So we’re going to do something that goes against our better judgment (and against a core NFL betting principle): lay double digits with a road team on a short week.

That’s how far Tennessee has plummeted in what has been a roller-coaster season — and how much we don’t trust rookie quarterback Malik Willis.

The Titans have followed up a 7-1 run — which included eight consecutive point spread covers — with five straight defeats. Along the way, they lost starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill twice, most recently to an ankle injury that ended his regular season (at least).

The losing skid has dropped Tennessee into a first-place tie with the surging Jacksonville Jaguars, who are responsible for handing the Titans one of the defeats during their slide.

» READ MORE: Eagles among biggest Week 17 favorites as they look to clinch top seed

No matter what happens Thursday in Tennessee — or in Sunday’s Jaguars-Texans game in Houston — the AFC South will come down to a Week 18, winner-take-all Titans-Jags showdown in Jacksonville.

So with nothing to play for against the Cowboys, Tennessee announced Wednesday that eight players (including six starters) won’t suit up. Several others remain listed as doubtful. That includes superstar running back Derrick Henry, who almost certainly will sit out with a hip injury.

None of this is good news for Willis, who has struggled in limited action even when surrounded by first-string talent.

In six appearances (three starts), the rookie from Liberty is merely 31-for-61 passing for 276 yards. That’s a woeful 4 yards per pass attempt. His touchdown-to-interception ratio: 0-3.

Sure, the mobile Willis has done OK on the move (123 rushing yards, 4.6 yards per carry, one TD). But if you can’t throw the ball in today’s pass-happy NFL — and Willis clearly can’t, at least not yet — your team is toast.

Yes, the Cowboys’ secondary has gotten torched the last two weeks. Jacksonville’s Trevor Lawrence and Eagles backup Gardner Minshew combined for 673 yards and six touchdown passes.

But next to Willis, Lawrence and Minshew look like the second coming of John Elway and Dan Marino.

What about Tennessee’s stout defense — the one that has held 10 of 12 opponents to 20 points or less? It will be without four starters and possibly two more Thursday.

Not exactly the ideal recipe for containing Dak Prescott and the blistering-hot Cowboys offense. How blistering? Over the past eight contests, Dallas has put up 300 points — that’s 37.5 per outing!

» READ MORE: Data shows Eagles fans like betting at Lincoln Financial Field and around stadium complex

Obviously, the offense will have to be on-point Thursday for Dallas to cover what has ballooned into a massive number. If Tennessee was remotely healthy — let alone interested in winning — we’d be concerned.

Clearly, that’s not the case. So even though the Cowboys have played three straight close games against the Texans (27-23 comeback win), Jaguars (40-34 overtime loss) and Eagles (40-34 comeback win), they should annihilate what’s left of this Titans squad.

Dallas certainly has that ability — since Week 7, it has pummeled the Lions (24-6), Bears (49-29), Vikings (40-3) and Colts (54-19). Those blowouts are part of Dallas’ 7-2 run since Prescott returned from a thumb injury.

Add it up, and there’s only one way to bet the final Thursday Night Football game of the season: Lay the chalk with the Cowboys at BetMGM.

Cowboys vs. Titans Odds: (via BetMGM)

  1. Point spread: Cowboys (-11) @ Titans (+11)

  2. Moneyline: Cowboys (-600) @ Titans (+425)

  3. Total: 40 points

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