The Cowboys battle the Tampa Bay Bucs on Sunday as they try to keep their hold on their playoff spot. The Cowboys lead the all time series 14-4, and have won 6 of the last 7 dating back to 2006.
Tampa Bay dropped a 20-12 loss against the Ravens last week, which eliminated them from the playoff picture. In week 13, they beat the Panthers 24-17, and lost 28-14 to the Saints in week 14.
The Cowboys were shut out last week in a disappointing 23-0 loss to the Colts. In week 13, they beat the Saints 13-10, and beat the Eagles 29-23 in week 14.
Vegas has the Cowboys as 7 point favourites with the O/U set at 46.5
Tampa Bay Buccaneeers
After losing 7 of 8 games, the Bucs have split their last 4 and look like a more well rounded football team. Jameis Winston seems to have the quarterback position locked down at least for another season, and in 9 games he has thrown for 2311 yards, 14 TDs, and 13 INTs while completing 63.7% of his passes and averaging 7.8 YPA. The Bucs have a bevy of receiving threats, most notably Mike Evans, who has 1328 yards and 5 TDs on 74 catches this season. Adam Humphries (61/671/5), Chris Godwin (50/689/5) and Cam Brate (26/242/6) are all big contributors as well. The run game has had a bit more consistency as of late, with Peyton Barber leading the way with 762 yards and 5 TDs on 202 carries.
The Bucs scoring defense ranks near the bottom of the league, allowing 28.8 PPG. Their pass defense is in the bottom quarter of the league, allowing 258.5 yards per game and 30 TDs through the air, while their pass rush ranks middle of the pack with 36 sacks. Their run defense ranks in the bottom quarter as well, allowing 128.1 yards per game and 17 TDs on the ground.
Injuries and Inactive Watch
WR DeSean Jackson (finger) – questionable, S Justin Evans (toe) – questionable
After rattling off 5 wins in a row, they Cowboys had by far their most disappointing output of the year last week in a 23-0 loss to Indy. Dak Prescott has been better over their win streak, but reverted a bit to his old ways in the last contest. On the year Dak has thrown for 3336 yards, 17 TDs and 8 INTs while completing 67.6% of his passes and averaging 7.3 YPA. Amari Cooper stepped in and instantly became the go to receiver, going for 673 yards and 6 TDs on 44 catches in his 7 games with Dallas. Cole Beasley provides the underneath role, catching 54 balls for 528 yards and 3 TDs, while Ezekiel Elliott is heavily involved in the pass game this season with 72 catches for 543 yards and 3 TDs.
The Cowboys scoring defense is in the top 5, allowing just 19.2 PPG. Their pass defense ranks in the top 10, allowing 224.1 yards per game and 19 TDs through the air, while their pass rush ranks just below average with 35 sacks. Their run defense is ranked in the top 5, allowing 93.4 yards per game and 9 TDs on the ground.
Injuries and Inactive Watch
TE Geoff Swaim (wrist) – questionable, G Zack Martin (knee) – questionable, WR Cole Beasley (foot) – questionable
The Buccaneers offense has had a lot of production through the air this season, but face a tough Cowboys secondary this week, which will be a good matchup. The sheer volume of their passing attack as well as the amount of weapons at Jameis Winston’s disposal will present problems for the Cowboys, so don’t be surprised if the Bucs hit a big play or 2.
The Cowboys offense, sans last week, has been steady but efficient, grinding out possessions and dictating the flow of the game through their run game. While the Bucs don’t exactly have a potent run defense, if they can get the Cowboys into passing situations they can make plays. Dak Prescott has been terrible under pressure and can collapse with a pick or a fumble if he gets guys in his face. While the Cowboys are the far superior team, they are not the type of team that blows opponents out, and the Bucs are the type of team that can score at any time. Make a small play on the Bucs here, and if this number gets any bigger then you may be able to find a nice middle.
Final Pick: Buccaneers (+7)