The Denver Broncos (4-4) ended their losing streak with a win over Washington on Sunday while the Dallas Cowboys (6-1) upset the Vikings for their sixth-straight win. Now all eyes are on Dak Prescott to see if he returns from his calf injury.
The Cowboys (7-0 ATS) are a 7-point favorite over the Broncos (4-4 ATS) at many of the best sportsbooks. The Cowboys can join an elite list of teams to start a perfect 8-0 ATS, but is this the week to go against them at the NFL odds?
Denver Broncos vs. Dallas Cowboys
Sunday, November 07, 2021 – 01:00 PM EST at AT&T Stadium
Cowboys: Cooper Rush or Rush Back Dak?
By NBC’s account, Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott did his normal warm-up routine well before Sunday night’s game and was still held out with that calf injury for precautions. Prescott was a game-time decision, which should give some optimism that he will be ready to go on Sunday with another weak of treatment.
With Prescott, Dallas is one of the deadliest offenses in the league. Without him, things are tougher, but the talent still shines through. Head coach Mike McCarthy has also done a really good job in his career going back to Green Bay with getting the backup quarterback ready for starts. Think of some of the big stat days for Matt Flynn.
Cooper Rush was an unknown going into Sunday’s game, and in a big spot on the road, he delivered with 325 yards and 2 touchdown passes. Granted, some of those completions he would not likely get again, such as the tipped ball from an offensive lineman, the 33-yard tipped ball to Amari Cooper that could have been intercepted, or the brilliant 15-yard completion to Ezekiel Elliott on a third-and-11 conversion that was all Zeke.
Rush finished with a 44.8 QBR, which ranked 17th among the 28 qualified passers in Week 8.
Rush got away with some mistakes, but that is to be expected of an inexperienced quarterback in his first start. The moment did not look too big for him, and he should be even more comfortable at home in his second start if the Cowboys have to go to him again.
But with everyone from Elliott to Cooper to CeeDee Lamb, the Cowboys are a loaded offense. Even Cedrick Wilson can throw the ball as he did for a 35-yard pass to Lamb on a trick play against the Vikings.
I think you can trust that the Cowboys will be able to score on Denver regardless of which quarterback plays. The Broncos held Washington to 10 points, but Washington finished 1-of-5 on fourth down and has been struggling to finish drives for weeks. Prior to that game, Denver had its three worst games of the season on defense against the Browns, Raiders, and Steelers.
Can Denver Keep Up?
Denver’s season has largely been predictable by the schedule so far. Against the likes of the Jets, Giants, Jaguars, and Washington, the Broncos are 4-0 and Teddy Bridgewater has strong numbers. But against the Ravens, Steelers, Raiders, and Browns, the Broncos are 0-4 and Bridgewater has struggled in those games.
This has been the case throughout Bridgewater’s career. Bridgewater, Matthew Stafford, and Kirk Cousins are the only three quarterbacks since 2001 who won over 70% of their games against non-winning teams and under 20% against winning teams.
The Cowboys are obviously a strong team with the ability to score a lot of points. Denver has yet to win a game this season where it allowed more than 13 points. Bridgewater’s QBR was only 31.2 against Washington, one of the worst defenses in the league. Part of that is because Bridgewater took 4 sacks in Washington territory.
The Dallas defense has been great at forcing turnovers this season, though it won the Minnesota game without getting a single takeaway. Outside of the four-turnover meltdown against Las Vegas, Denver has protected the ball well this season. However, the Broncos did have a late fumble against Washington that almost blew the game.
I think this is a spread you can be confident in the Dallas side for if Prescott does in fact start on Sunday. But if it’s Rush again, then the number will likely come down during the week.
I would still back the Cowboys in your NFL picks as the Broncos lose their altitude advantage on the road and just have not played well against better competition under Vic Fangio.
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