The Dallas Cowboys will play the host Washington Commanders in the late afternoon time slot on Sunday in what is a potentially crucial game for the visitors on the final day of the 2022 NFL regular season.
Dallas was a 1-point favorite when odds were first posted in May but now is a 7-point choice at DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, and PointsBet against a team that was eliminated from playoff contention last week.
Cowboys vs. Commanders Betting Lines: Point Spread, Totals, Moneyline
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NFL · Sun (1/8) @ 4:25pm ET
|FedExField, Landover, Maryland|
Where the Cowboys, Commanders Stand Heading Into Week 18
The Cowboys are 12-4 (10-6 against the spread) and have clinched the top wild-card spot in the NFC. But they hold out hope they can overcome Philadelphia (13-3) to win the East Division crown via tiebreaker (better division record). And Dallas even has an extremely remote chance to capture the top seed.
To set the scene, to win the East and avoid opening the postseason on the road, the Cowboys would need a win against the 7-8-1 Commanders and for the Eagles to lose Sunday as a home favorite of 13.5 to 14 points over a NY Giants team (9-6-1) that is locked in as the No. 6 NFC playoff seed and likely will be resting key players. If those two outcomes occur, Dallas would open the postseason at home as at least the No. 2 seed.
For Dallas to get the top spot and the accompanying bye, in addition to a Cowboys win and an Eagles loss, San Francisco (12-4) would have to lose or tie at home against Arizona (4-12) as a 14-point favorite.
History indicates that neither the Eagles nor the 49ers are likely to tumble, though, since no team this season has been defeated as a favorite of 13.5 points or more. Squads that have been that heavy a choice have gone 7-0. Counting last season’s games, make that 21-2 — with both losses coming against Jacksonville.
That’s bad news for a Dallas franchise that has lost eight consecutive road playoff games dating to 1994 and would have to open on the road next week against QB Tom Brady and the NFC South champion Tampa Bay Bucs.
But the Eagles could be vulnerable Sunday. The status of star QB Jalen Hurts (questionable), the league’s third-ranked passer, remains uncertain and he could miss a third straight game after spraining his right (throwing) shoulder in Week 15. In his absence, Philadelphia has lost two straight games with backup QB Gardner Minshew in the lineup, including 20-10 last week at home against New Orleans as a 4.5-point choice.
For sure, there’s no doubt there will be scoreboard-watching going on with the Cowboys, Eagles, and 49ers all kicking off at the same time.
For what it’s worth, Dallas head coach Mike McCarthy had this to say earlier this week about playing his key personnel: “We’re going to do everything we can to win this game.”
That would mean using QB Dak Prescott, who is dealing with a minor knee hyperextension, and RB Tony Pollard, who sat out last week’s game at Tennessee with a thigh injury.
On Sunday, the Cowboys will be facing a Commanders team that is benching QB Carson Wentz to give rookie Sam Howell his first start. It will be the third-straight game Dallas will be going against a backup QB as a starter after facing none in its first 14 outings.
Howell, a fifth-round pick out of North Carolina, has not thrown a pass this season. In exhibitions, though, he completed 62.3% of his 69 throws for a 7.9-yard norm but was sacked nine times. Now, he’ll be going against a Dallas squad that has 51 sacks, which is the third-most in the league, yet only three in its past four games.
As for Pollard, he’ll likely play at least a little since the four-year veteran is only 12 yards shy of his first 1,000-yard season.
In their previous meeting in Week 4, the Cowboys won 25-10 with backup QB Cooper Rush having his best game during a five-week run as the starter (107.5 passer rating) while Prescott recovered from a thumb injury.
In that game, the Commanders committed 136 yards in penalties to the Cowboys’ 20. That 116-yard gap was the biggest in any league game this year. The second-biggest margin occurred last week in Dallas’ 27-13 win at Tennessee with the Titans having 89 more yards of infractions.
Cowboys vs. Commanders Injuries
RB Tony Pollard (thigh) was a full participant at Wednesday’s practice.
RB Brian Robinson Jr. (knee) was among 11 Commanders who did not participate at Wednesday’s practice.
Cowboys vs. Commanders Prediction
It would appear the Cowboys will be able to cover the spread, provided they care to go all out all game.
Considering they lead the league in takeaways with 32 and have caused QBs to fumble 17 times this season and recovered 10 of them, Howell could be in for a long day. But as an FYI, rookie QBs making their first starts this season have gone 4-2 ATS/3-3 SU.
Also, what’s working against Washington is that for the fourth time this season, it will face a team coming off an extended break after playing on a Thursday. No team has had more in such games. Over the past five weeks, squads with the added time off going against a team on normal rest have gone 8-4 ATS.
The guess here is that if the Eagles take a three-score lead in the second half against the Giants, the Cowboys will soon insert backups to finish out the game — despite what McCarthy said. If that happens, the gamble here is that Dallas will have built a big enough lead to weather a late comeback.
Forecast: Cowboys 26, Commanders 14