Let's kick off a new week in the NFL with another Thursday Night Football game, this time between the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints.
We've got a market report on the game from South Point director Chris Andrews and a best bet from Adam Burke and Matt Youmans as Week 13 gets underway.
Dallas Cowboys (-4.5, 47.5) at New Orleans Saints
Market report from Chris Andrews: My opener of Dallas -5.5 was bet down to -5 on sharp action keyed by Cowboys’ COVID-19 news. I’ve been writing more business on the Cowboys than the Saints at 5, but most of the market has dropped to 4.5. I’ll wait to take more bets on the Saints before joining them. Little action yet on my opening total of 47.5. We probably would have seen a huge handle if both teams were playing well, but Dallas is 1-3 straight up and ATS its last four games, including outright losses as favorites to Denver and Las Vegas. New Orleans is 0-4 SU and 1-3 ATS during the same span. It’s still a marquee matchup that will be heavily bet.
Youmans: This will be an unpopular opinion because the Saints were so rotten on Thanksgiving night, but I’m siding with the home ‘dog. I made this line 2.5 and will take the bonus points. The public perception of New Orleans is sinking to rock bottom. Still, it’s not as if the Cowboys, who have lost three of four, are red hot. The Dallas defense has been slipping against the run and pass, and the New Orleans offense will show a new look with Taysom Hill getting his first start at quarterback this season, for better or worse. The offense that coach Sean Payton put on the field last week was about as bad as it gets. Running back Mark Ingram is returning from a knee injury, and No. 1 back Alvin Kamara is hoping to go along with offensive tackles Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk.
Hill is the key to the Saints winning, or at least covering. He went 3-1 as the starter last season, completing 71.9 percent of his passes for 834 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed for 209 yards and four touchdowns. The downside? Hill committed a total of five turnovers in those four games. I grabbed + 5 for a small bet at the South Point, where Andrews is dealing the best number on the dog.
Pick: Saints + 5
Burke: The Cowboys continue to have all sorts of COVID issues. This week, head coach Mike McCarthy was among those that tested positive for the illness. Amari Cooper is questionable, so Dallas could be missing him as well, though his prognosis has gotten better. Still, there are a lot of available weapons for this Cowboys team and Dak Prescott is mobile enough to create some time for guys to get open.
The Saints have given up at least 27 points in four of the last five games and their offense, which wasn’t that good when Jameis Winston was healthy, has taken a tumble. New Orleans has only scored 16 combined points in the first half of the last four games. Playing catch-up with Taysom Hill as a passer doesn’t seem like a viable strategy, but it is exactly what the Saints will fall into if they don’t show some kind of offensive aptitude in the first half. Hill is also less than 100 percent after suffering a foot injury.
The Saints only have 16 takeaways in 11 games, so they are unlikely to give Hill and the offense some short fields to work with to make life easier. New Orleans does have the best rush defense in the league, but that should push the Cowboys into more passing plays, which should work out better in terms of creating some margin.
The line is dropping down with Dallas’s growing COVID-19 concerns, but seems to ignore the fact that the Saints just aren’t a very good football team right now and will have problems keeping up.
Pick: Cowboys -4.5