The Dallas Cowboys are scheduled to play the host Tennessee Titans in Nashville on Thursday Night Football to kick off the penultimate week of the 2022 NFL season.
The Titans were listed as 2-point favorites when odds were first posted in May, but the line has flipped dramatically with the Cowboys now 10-point choices at DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, and PointsBet.
Unlike last Saturday’s game in Tennessee when the temperature at kickoff was 20 degrees, the weather forecast as of Tuesday morning calls for a temperature of 53 at kickoff with a 4% chance of precipitation.
Cowboys vs. Titans Betting Lines: Point Spread, Totals, Moneyline
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NFL · Thu (12/29) @ 8:15pm ET
|Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tennessee
Where the Cowboys, Titans Stand Heading Into Week 17
Dallas (11-4 straight up/9-6 against the spread) is the only team in this matchup highly motivated to win. The Cowboys are clinging to hope they can catch Philadelphia (13-2) and win the NFC East title and maybe even get the top seed in the conference playoffs. At the moment, they are the fifth seed but can’t drop any lower.
Tennessee (7-8 SU/8-6-1 ATS), meanwhile, has lost five straight games and has seen its four-game edge over Jacksonville in the AFC South standings disintegrate, with the Jaguars (7-8) holding the head-to-head tiebreaker with two weeks remaining on the schedule.
No matter what the Titans or Jaguars (vs. Houston) do this week, the winner of the division will be decided in Week 18 when the teams meet in Jacksonville.
Thus, Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said on Monday he would consider resting certain key players in advance of their win-or-else game versus Jacksonville, especially considering they are playing on short rest.
That likely would include sitting standout RB Derrick Henry (hip), who was one of 11 Titans who were held out of drills Monday. Henry is second on the rushing chart with 1,429 yards, but 110 behind the front-running Josh Jacobs of Las Vegas.
If the point spread for this game holds, it will this mark the fourth time in Dallas’ past six games it will be a double-digit favorite. The Cowboys have won them all, but are only 1-2 ATS.
It will be Tennessee’s third game as an underdog of at least 10 points. The Titans lost both previous games as a heavy dog, but have gone 1-1 ATS thanks to extending 14-point favorite Kansas City to overtime in Week 9 before losing 20-17. Backup QB Malik Willis started that game for the Titans in place of injured Ryan Tannehill but was only 5-of-16 passing for 80 yards.
With Tannehill injured again and perhaps lost for the rest of the season, Willis is expected to make his fourth start on Thursday.
As for Dallas, since QB Dak Prescott returned to the starting lineup in Week 7 after fracturing his right thumb in the season opener, the Cowboys have averaged 36 points a game. Dallas topped out at 25 while backup Cooper Rush was in charge.
Last Saturday, the Cowboys hit the 40-point mark for the fourth time in eight games in a 40-34 win over the Eagles.
Tennessee, meanwhile, hasn’t exceeded 27 points in any game this season. The only team not to reach 27 has been Houston, which beat the Titans in Nashville 19-14 last Saturday.
This game would figure to be a mismatch even if Tennessee treated the outing as a must-win.
As for Willis, no other starting quarterback has played as poorly. Willis twice has had a passer rating below 39.6, which equates to a QB heaving the ball into the grandstand on each throw. He had a 34.5 reading last week versus Houston. No other QB in the league has been below 39.6 more than once this season.
With the likelihood of Henry sitting out, Tennessee will be hard-pressed to score in double digits against a Dallas defense that has a league-best 30 takeaways and is third in sacks with 49. Willis has been sacked 10 times despite dropping back to pass only 71 times.
On offense, the Cowboys could be hurting somewhat with a thigh injury to RB Tony Pollard (5.3 yards a carry). He sat out practice on Monday but is expected to play against a rush defense that’s allowed only 3.5 yards a carry, the second-lowest in the league.
Tennessee’s pass defense is ranked only 31st in yards allowed and also tied for the second-most TD throws yielded with 26. Prescott and CeeDee Lamb, seventh on the receiving chart with 91 catches, should connect often on throws between the hash marks.
Maybe Tennessee scores a little more if Willis’ backup, ex-Steeler Joshua Dobbs, makes an appearance. But not enough to beat the spread.
Forecast: Cowboys 38, Titans 9