The Dallas Cowboys (7-4) and New Orleans Saints (5-6) will meet on Thursday night after both lost at home on Thanksgiving. The two teams are a combined 1-7 over the last month as injuries to key skill players have mounted.
The Cowboys (8-3 ATS) are a 6-point favorite over the Saints (5-6 ATS) at many of BMR’s top-rated sportsbooks. Even if the Saints were to have the advantage in players returning from health problems, they face an uphill battle due to the quarterback disadvantage in this one.
Dallas Cowboys vs. New Orleans Saints
Thursday, December 02, 2021 – 08:20 PM EST at Caesars Superdome
Is Dallas Okay?
Just like in 2018, these teams will go from playing on Thanksgiving to a game against each other the following Thursday night. Given the injury situations here, it would be nice if the teams got a few extra days to play on Sunday. Alas, the Cowboys are hoping to get Amari Cooper back from COVID and CeeDee Lamb back from a concussion so that Dak Prescott will have his best receivers together again.
That’s bad news for a Saints team that is hoping to get Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram back at running back. Kamara has not played since the Week 9 loss to the Falcons. The Saints were destroyed on the ground against Buffalo, handing off 22 times for 41 yards. They have to get much more out of the running game to help a struggling Trevor Siemian, who only passed for 163 yards last week.
While the Cowboys have been struggling too, Prescott showed some good poise in the fourth quarter in taking the Raiders to overtime before the 36-33 loss. He passed for 375 yards without his two best receivers. It helped that left tackle Tyron Smith returned, but the Cowboys only ran the ball 19 times for 61 yards with Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard. The Saints are stingy against the run, and this expects to be another game where Dak has to put the offense on his back. The Cowboys may rest Elliott for injury, but Pollard has been arguably the better back anyway for the offense.
However, the expectations of getting Cooper and Lamb back should really open up the passing game again with Smith in there to protect. Cedrick Wilson had 104 yards against the Raiders and Michael Gallup, who has also battled injury this year, had 106 yards on some great throws from Prescott. Give Prescott his full receiving corps and he should put up numbers in this one. While the Saints intercepted Josh Allen twice, they were picked apart the rest of the time. Allen completed 23-of-28 passes for 260 yards and four touchdowns. It is hard to still view the Saints as having a top-tier defense this season.
Saints: Try Finding the Positive
After a 5-2 start with an upset win over Tampa Bay, this is quickly becoming a lost season for the Saints, losers of four straight. It becomes nearly impossible to field a competent passing offense when the quarterback is Siemian, Kamara is out, and you no longer field legitimate pass-catchers such as Michael Thomas, Jared Cook, and Emmanuel Sanders. The passing offense had its flaws with Jameis Winston at quarterback, but things have really gone downhill since he tore his ACL.
Defensively, the Saints still stop the run well outside of playing Philadelphia, but that has proven to not be a driving force in winning games in the NFL. The Saints have struggled to stop the pass the last month against a solid group of quarterbacks. Prescott looks to be a tougher challenge than any of them. Cornerback Marshon Lattimore is not having a season up to his usual Pro Bowl-caliber.
Getting Kamara back should be a boost for the offense, but it is still hard to see that being the difference in outscoring a loaded Dallas offense as long as Siemian is the quarterback. Maybe Sean Payton needs to give hybrid player Taysom Hill more plays after the Saints continue to extend him for millions of dollars for unknown reasons.
Dallas may not be much of a contender for the Super Bowl this season, but I still trust the Cowboys to outscore the struggling Saints, a team without an identity anymore. At least we know what the Cowboys are capable of on the offensive side of the ball. I’ll take the Cowboys for my NFL picks to start Week 13.
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