Titans v Cowboys Predictions: Dallas expected to roll to an easy victory
29 December 2022
Just two weeks remain of the NFL regular season and the majority of teams are pushing a ‘now or never’ mentality as they race to secure a last-gasp playoff spot.
Life is a little more relaxed for the Dallas Cowboys, who are already guaranteed to be playing at least one post-season game come January thanks to an impressive 11-4 record. They travel to Tennessee to face the Titans - whose playoff ambitions remain in the balance - on Thursday Night Football.
Key injuries create one-sided look
Despite boasting a losing record (7-8), the Tennessee Titans have a great shot at winning the AFC South and consequently securing a vital playoff berth. In fact, victory here isn’t essential as a Week 18 clash against the Jaguars is set to decide the divisional winners.
Mike Vrabel is sure to be shortlisted for Coach of the Year after guiding his team to an impressive mid-season winning streak, although the wheels have certainly come off in the last month.
The Titans, who were 7-3 after ten games, have lost five straight and enter this match-up without starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who had ankle surgery last week. Pro Bowler Jeffery Simmons, safety Amari Hooker and linebackers Bud Dupree and Zach Cunningham have also been ruled out, leaving back-ups to take to the field in several key positions.
And that’s not even to mention the potential loss of star running back Derrick Henry, who hurt his ankle last week and is unlikely to suit up. Malik Willis, who hasn’t shone when given the chance this year, is expected to lead this offence with Michigan rookie running back Hassan Haskins in the backfield. As a result, production is set to decline - and they were only ranked 30th in yards per game when their starters played!
Pile on the pressure
The Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys have put on a show in the NFC East this year. Philly are currently 13-2 and in possession of the number one seed in the conference, while Dallas sit two games back with a chance of topping the Eagles if results go their way. Although they have already qualified for the post-season, ‘America’s team’ will be desperate to pile on the pressure.
This is the first of two road games to end the year for the Cowboys and, despite Tony Pollard being described as questionable with a thigh injury heading into this game, they boast a predominantly healthy squad. Although this has little impact on this year’s match, Dallas’ last two trips to Tennessee have resulted in comfortable victories (45-14 in 2006, 26-10 in 2014) and they will expect the same again.
An ability to put up points on offence has not been a concern at any point this season for Dallas, but their defensive toughness and talent has attracted criticism in the last couple of weeks as they shipped 40 points to the Jaguars and 34 to Gardner Minshew’s Eagles. This is a good opportunity to tighten up.
So, what’s the verdict?
Given Tennessee’s injuries, their five-game losing streak and the fact that they don’t need to win this game, the Dallas Cowboys are fancied to take this quite comfortably. They will have to win by 11-and-a-half points to cover the spread, but that seems perfectly doable for a team that is averaging 29 points per game this year and has numerous offensive weapons.
One of those is Michael Gallup, who has seen an upturn in targets and receptions since Dallas’ week nine bye. The 26-year-old has only hauled in four touchdowns on the year, but three of those have come in his last four games and I expect him to be a major factor with Ceedee Lamb likely to receive double coverage.
Titans v Cowboys Predictions
Dallas Cowboys -11.5 @ 1.91
Michael Gallup anytime touchdown scorer @ 3.4
29 December 2022