Maybe there is a psychic somewhere who could see this coming two months ago, but the Dallas Cowboys’ hot streak behind rookie quarterback Dak Prescott has been nearly impossible for even the sharpest NFL handicappers to predict.
Prescott was a fourth-round pick, passed by multiple times in the draft by every other team in the league. Even the Cowboys attempted to trade up to pick a different quarterback, only to get stuck with Prescott in the luckiest of breaks.
With a lot of help from rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott, a dominant offensive line and an overachieving defense, Dallas is riding a nine-game winning roll and is 9-0-1 against the spread going into Thanksgiving Day.
The Cowboys, who continue to cover point spreads that are perceived to be inflated, are 7-point favorites over the Washington Redskins in the second of Thursday’s three games.
“It’s by far the best game of the day,” Sunset Station sports book director Chuck Esposito said. “The Cowboys are arguably the best team in the league, and it’s a team people love to back. The Cowboys have been great for the bettors. It’s still a lot of points for a division game, and it’s a revenge game for the Redskins, so there might be some value on the underdog.”
Prescott’s first NFL victory came at the Redskins’ expense, with Dallas winning 27-23 as a 3½-point ’dog on Sept. 18. Prescott has 17 touchdown passes with two interceptions. Elliott is the league’s leading rusher with 1,102 yards.
Washington (6-3-1 straight up, 7-3 ATS) is riding some momentum, too. Cousins connected on several deep passes as the Redskins bombed Green Bay 42-24 on Sunday night.
“Cousins is on a roll right now,” VegasInsider.com handicapper Micah Roberts said. “It’s going to be a shootout. The ’dog seems to always win in this series. I think Washington has got a shot to win.”
The total is 52. If the betting public pounds the Cowboys as usual, the line might inflate to 7½ by kickoff.
“In all three games, you could see the line on the favorite move up,” Esposito said.
Detroit is a 2½-point favorite over Minnesota in the morning game, with the total at 41½. The Lions and Vikings are tied atop the NFC North at 6-4.
The status of Colts quarterback Andrew Luck triggered a major line adjustment in the late game. Luck is in concussion protocol and doubtful to play, so Indianapolis is an 8-point home underdog to Pittsburgh. The Steelers opened minus-3.
“It looks like Luck is not going to play unless something miraculous happens,” Esposito said.
The dropoff from Luck to backup Scott Tolzien, who has not started a game since 2013, is significant.
“Tolzien has shown nothing in his entire career,” Roberts said. “The bookmakers know the public is going to play the Steelers. I see the Steelers winning by about three touchdowns.”
Two contestants in the Review-Journal NFL Challenge, which is published Sunday, are playing games Thursday based on the Westgate SuperContest lines.
RJ sports editor Bill Bradley is on the Cowboys (-7) and Steelers (-8). Systemplays.com handicapper Doug Fitz, the contest leader, is playing the Vikings (+2.5) and Redskins.
Contact sports betting reporter Matt Youmans at email@example.com or 702-387-2907. Follow @mattyoumans247 on Twitter.