It's no exaggeration to say that the Dallas Cowboys have been one of the worst teams in the NFL in 2020. But while this week's opponent, the San Francisco 49ers, only has one more win this season they are still being favored to win even with the Cowboys playing at home. Should Dallas really be the underdog in this Week 15 matchup?
The 49ers are 5-8 this year and have lost five of their last six games. Last week they got handled by the Washington Football Team, who has been similarly dominant this season in their two wins over the Cowboys.
San Francisco's been dealing with a lot of injuries this year, perhaps even more than the Cowboys, and also at the all-important position of quarterback. They're 3-3 in the games started by Jimmy Garoppolo and only 2-5 in games started by backup Nick Mullens.
Mullens will be the starter this week in Dallas even after his tough day against Washington and a bad streak of interceptions over his last five games. The 4th-year QB has thrown seven picks and lost two fumbles as the 49ers have nearly fallen out of the NFC Wild Card picture.
The Cowboys have already accomplished that feat. Their only road to the playoffs now would be miraculous; winning out the rest of the season while Washington goes cold and loses their final three games. Possible, sure, but hardly a likely outcome.
Nevertheless, Dallas is still coming into this game with something to play for and has homefield advantage. But that hasn't stopped sportsbooks, such as those listed here, from favoring San Francisco by an average of 2.5 to 3 points even as the visiting team.
If you're a betting person, take some time to browse through and see which site has better value for the odds. Keep in mind that odds can still change up until the start of the game.
To be fair, it's not unreasonable to favor the 49ers over the Cowboys. They still have the 5th-best defense in the NFL and would likely be further along in the playoff hunt if Mullens could ease up on the turnovers. Also, at least one analysis ranks San Francisco as having the hardest schedule of any NFL team from Week 1-14.
The Cowboys have had some of their better showings of 2020 recently in wins over the Minnesota Vikings and Cincinnati Bengals. But in between those were ugly losses to Baltimore and Washington, indicative of a team that is inconsistent and hard to predict.
The 49ers just might be the safer bet this week. At the very least, their head coach Kyle Shanahan has done more to earn respect this year than Dallas' MIke McCarthy. You trust his group to be better prepared for the game.
2020 has certainly been a low point in the Cowboys' franchise history. Remember, this game was once scheduled for Sunday Night Football and got flexed out in favor of the Giants and Browns. And now, with an opponent whose only 5-8 themselves, Dallas can't even get the nod from oddsmakers as the home team.
Only the Cowboys can do something about this trend of disrespect. Can they build on last week's victory and use that flickering hope of making the playoffs to fuel a win streak, starting this Sunday against the 49ers?