Two NFL teams from opposing conferences face off this Thursday night, as the Dallas Cowboys pay a visit to the Music City to take on the Tennessee Titans. The Cowboys and Titans are trending in different directions. On one hand, Dallas has won five out of its past six and is sitting pretty with the top wild-card spot in the NFC, while Tennessee is on a five-game losing streak and in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2018.
Any NFL head coach will tell you there's no such thing as a meaningless game, but the outcome Thursday night will not affect the Titans from a postseason perspective. Their Week 18 rematch against the Jacksonville Jaguars will be for the AFC South title and the No. 4 seed in the AFC. Several Titans starters won't take the field Thursday night, such as Ryan Tannehill, Jeffery Simmons and Bud Dupree. Star running back Derrick Henry is doubtful to play with a hip issue.
Can Malik Willis give Dak Prescott a run for his money? Or will the Cowboys' tenacious pass rush rule the day? Below, we will break down this matchup from a gambling perspective and examine the line movement, Over/Under and player props to consider. First, here's how you can watch the game.
All NFL odds are via Caesars Sportsbook.
How to watch
Date: Thursday, Dec. 29 | Time: 8:15 p.m. ET
Location: Nissan Stadium (Nashville)
Stream: Amazon Prime Video
Follow: CBS Sports App
Odds: Cowboys -12.5, O/U 39.5
- Cowboys: LB Leighton Vander Esch (neck) OUT; RB Tony Pollard (thigh), LB Micah Parsons (hand) QUESTIONABLE
- Titans: LB Dylan Cole (ankle), LB Zach Cunningham (elbow), LB Bud Dupree (pectoral), S Amani Hooker (knee), OT Nicholas Petit-Frere (ankle), QB Ryan Tannehill (ankle), DB Josh Thompson (concussion), DE Jeffery Simmons (ankle) OUT; DE Denico Autry (biceps), CB Kristian Fulton (groin), RB Derrick Henry (hip) DOUBTFUL
The Cowboys will again be without Vander Esch due to his neck injury. Dallas has two stars listed as questionable, as Pollard did not practice all week with a thigh injury and Parsons was limited Tuesday and Wednesday with a hand issue. Even if both play, it will be interesting to see how much run both players get against a shorthanded Titans squad.
The Titans aren't "sitting" starters for this almost-meaningless prime-time matchup, but several starters will not be playing. Tennessee is the most injured team in the NFL, and this Week 17 injury report proves it. Among the most impactful players not suiting up are Tannehill, Simmons, Hooker and the right tackle Petit-Frere. Those listed as doubtful may not play, either. Autry, Henry and Fulton are all impactful players who are on the fence to play this week.
This line reopened at DAL -3 on Wednesday, Dec. 21, but quickly climbed to DAL -5 by day's end. The next day, it went up to DAL -6. On Sunday, we saw a big jump, as the line shot up to DAL -9.5 by Christmas Day's end. This past Monday, it rose to DAL -10. Wednesday was another big day for movement, as the line went from DAL -10 to DAL -12 before settling at DAL -12.5 as of Thursday morning.
The pick: Cowboys -12.5. The Titans are a gritty team, and that grittiness earned them the No. 1 seed in the AFC last season despite playing with an NFL-record different amount of players due to injury. This season, the Titans just couldn't overcome that adversity. Willis is a very raw rookie quarterback operating behind a terrible offensive line, and he has a subpar wide receiving corps and offensive coordinator to work with. The defense plays tough, but it is injured just about everywhere. We are looking at a potential blowout.
The total reopened at 44.5 on Wednesday, Dec. 21, but ended the day at 43.5. It ended Sunday at 42.5, then fell to 41.5 on Monday. On Tuesday, it fell to 40.5, and then 39.5 on Wednesday.
The pick: Under 39.5. Betting the Total in a potential blowout is not something I'm always interested in. In the three games Willis has started, the most points scored came against the Kansas City Chiefs with 37 total points. The lean is Under, but this is probably just something I'd stay away from unless you want to take an alternate Under in a same-game parlay.
Passing touchdowns: 1.5 (Over -133, Under -103)
Passing yards: 235.5 (Over -123, Under -111)
Passing attempts: 29.5 (Over -121, Under -113)
Passing completions: 19.5 (Over -133, Under -103)
Longest passing completion: 36.5 (Over -117, Under -117)
Interceptions: 0.5 (Over -117, Under -117)
I get that we are looking at a potential blowout, but 235.5 passing yards for Prescott still seems low. He's crossed this line in seven of 10 games played this season, including in the 37-point win over the Minnesota Vikings. As for Prescott's passing touchdowns, it's hard not to lean Over there, too. Again, Prescott has crossed this line in seven of 10 games played. Where I will lean Under is on passing attempts. I also will not touch Prescott's interception prop.
Passing touchdowns: 0.5 (Over -123, Under -111)
Interceptions: 0.5 (Over -204, Under +146)
Rushing yards: 40.5 (Over -117, Under -117)
Willis hasn't thrown a passing touchdown yet, but Vegas believes it's likely to happen Thursday night. I tend to agree, but I like him to throw an interception and go Over his rushing yards more. Willis rushed for 43 yards last week against the Houston Texans.
Other player props to consider
Treylon Burks receiving yards: Over 21.5 (-119). I don't think the Titans are going to tear it up through the air, but Burks should cross this line. The rookie has hit this number in six of nine games played this season.
Dalton Schultz receiving yards: Over 40.5 (-115). Schultz is averaging just 37.5 receiving yards per game this season, but with the Titans' top inside linebackers out, Schultz will have his chances to break loose in the secondary.
Brett Maher total made field goals: Over 1.5 (-169). It's juicy, but for good reason. Maher has hit this exact prop in each of his past three games. Have some fun with it in a same-game parlay.
Ezekiel Elliott TD + Cowboys -6.5 = +122