The NFL is back, and for a lot of people, that means that gambling on the NFL is back. The Cowboys aren’t getting much “respect” from Vegas this season, as they’re expected to win 8 games and be an overall average football team.
They’re probably right in their expectations for the season overall, but as fans it’s much more fun to take things week by week.
The Cowboys open up the season on the road against the Carolina Panthers. As you might anticipate, the Cowboys are a road dog at +3 in most sports books. In some places you can get them at as little as +1.5, but somewhere between 2.5-3 points seems to be the norm.
As just a 3 point underdog, Vegas is indicating that this would be a pick ’em at a neutral site, and that the Cowboys would be a 3 point favorite at home.
The Cowboys enter the 2018 season with a lot to prove. Despite some promising young talent across the roster, there’s little reason to expect them to be real contenders in a very competitive NFC.
Then again, simply having a relatively healthy offensive line in front of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott should be enough to keep the Cowboys relevant and “in the hunt” for 16 games. And defensively, the Cowboys have shown a ton of promise during the preseason.
Dallas finished the 2017 season a pretty disappointing 9-7 and enter 2018 with an over/under win total of 8.5. Vegas hit the nail on the head here in my opinion, as 8-8 or 9-7 feels like the most likely outcome.
A playoff team one year ago the Carolina Panthers enter 2018 with some high hopes. They will play in arguably the best division in the best conference, though, which could deflate their win total quite a bit.
Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey bolster one of the more electric backfields in all of football. And, though wide receivers have been a weakness on the roster over the last few years, Carolina did add Maryland wide out DJ Moore in the first round of the 2018 draft.
Carolina finished the 2017 season with a record of 11-5, and enters 2018 with an over/under win total of 9. Carolina won a lot of close games a year ago and did not play the quality of schedule they will this season. Both Dallas and Carolina will likely find themselves in that 7-to-9 win range in 2018.
- The Cowboys are 5-1-1 against the spread their last 7 games on the road.
- The under has hit in 8 of the Cowboys’ last 9 games.
- The over has hit in 6 of the Panthers’ last 8 games.
- The Panthers are 4-1 against the spread their last 5 games at home.
Carolina comes into this season opener banged up across the offensive line, and with the pass rush the Cowboys could put together, this could be a long day for quarterback Cam Newton. Dallas, however, has their own set of unknowns on offense that make it tough to trust them just yet.
Both teams have high ceilings defensively, with the strength of the Panthers defense being their front seven. Dallas and their rushing attack against Carolina and their front seven will be a key match up in deciding this game.
I don’t think the Panthers are much better, if better at all, than the Cowboys, and this is indicated by the 3 point spread. The smart pick here is the under of 42.5 points, however.
I don’t expect this to be a shootout, as both teams look to run the ball and control the clock. A final score somewhere in the 21-17 range feels about right to me, making the under the best bet.