Sunday, December 18, 7.30pm. AT&T Stadium
Against the spread record:
Cowboys -300 @ Bovada.lv
Points spread market:
IN one of the better Sunday Night Football games of the season, the playoff-guaranteed Dallas Cowboys take on the streaking Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a showdown of the NFL’s youth.
The Cowboys have largely been relying on the play of rookie quarterback Dak Prescott who has thrown for 3139 yards for 20 touchdowns and four intercepts. The rookie out of Mississippi State is competing against teammate Ezekiel Elliott for Rookie of the Year honors.
Cowboys running back Elliott has run for an incredible 1392 yards for 12 touchdowns and he doesn’t look like slowing down as the Cowboys use a good mix of passing and rushing plays for their two youngsters.
Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett has rejected claims that following the loss to the Giants (their second loss to the Giants this season) that Tony Romo would be replacing Prescott at the helm.
“It’s pretty simple for us: Dak’s going to play quarterback as we go forward,” Garrett said.
“He’s done a really good job for us up to this point, won 11 of 13 games that he’s started, and he’s handled really every situation as well as you can handle it, so we’ll just continue that way.
“Tony will be in a backup role for us and he’ll be ready to go if he’s called upon to play.”
There are concerns for Prescott, who has failed to throw for more than 200 yards in his last three games. He comes up against a Buccaneers defense which has given up totals of 10, 17, 5, 21 and 11 from its last five games.
It limited the Seahawks to five points in a narrow 14-5 win last month and it was able to stifle the high-powered Saints offense by giving up only 11 points last week.
Also firmly in their arsenal is the play from former No. 1 draft pick Jameis Winston who has thrown for 23 touchdowns and although he has given up 12 intercepts, you have to take the good with the bad.
Winston knows his team controls their own destiny by owning the second wild card spot in the NFC, but he’s taking it one game at a time.
“It’s in my mind, but going 1-0 (each week) is very important to us as a team,” Winston said.
“We’re not really trying to look forward. (Offensive coordinator Todd Monken) says all the time, ‘Be where your feet are.’ We’ve got to keep winning. As long as we keep getting W’s, the playoffs are going to be in there.”
The Bucs won the most recent meeting between these two teams (10-6 last season), but the Cowboys own a superior overall record of 13-4.
The Cowboys have some injury worries with the likes of defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence and linebacker Sean Lee listed as questionable for Sunday’s big game, but no players are confirmed as non-starters and both teams come in relatively healthy.
Buccaneers vs. Cowboys game prediction
It’s tough to weigh up how desperate the Cowboys will be to win this game, seeing as their playoff chances are already confirmed, but ultimately pure talent might see them through.
The Bucs have been solid defensively all season and the likes of Prescott and Elliott will have their work cut out for them, but this is a young Bucs side which will have the pressures of trying to win out for the rest of the season.
This isn’t an easy task for a Bucs team is averaging only 22.5 points per game in comparison to the Cowboys 26.2 and that’s where they might struggle.
The Cowboys are 5-4 against the spread as a favourite this season and the line of -7 is right where it should be.
The current under/over line is set at 47 points and the under could be the best play of the game. Both teams are firm on defense and both teams have struggled to put up the big numbers of late.
We expect a tight tussle and the Cowboys should edge away for the victory.
Our tip: Buccaneers 17 – Cowboys 26