The Dallas Cowboys host the Tennessee Titans tonight to close out the ninth week of National Football League action. The first question that has to be asked, is where is the offense coming from in this matchup?
The Cowboys have allowed the fewest points in the league, 123, and the Titans the second fewest, 127. In addition to solid defense, both the Cowboys and Titans have had trouble scoring. The Cowboys 140 points on the season is the second worst in the NFC, only the Arizona Cardinals have scored fewer with 110 points.
The Titans have scored less points than either the Cowboys or Cardinals, also the second fewest in their conference, with 106 tallied. The AFC Buffalo Bills came into action this week with the fewest points scored, and even adding the nine points they generated yesterday against the Chicago Bears, the Bills still have not cracked the century mark with 96 points in nine games.
Okay, these two teams have had trouble scoring points through their first seven games, both teams have already had their bye weeks, but do they have reason to think they can turn it around over the second half of the season?
The Cowboys offense added a deep threat to Dak Prescott’s passing attack with the addition of one-time Oakland Raiders first round pick Amari Cooper. While the Cowboys still have a solid running attack with Ezekiel Elliott, their offense had been missing the ability to stretch a defense without a deep threat since the off-season departure of Dez Bryant.
If Cooper regains his form, and there is no reason to expect he won’t, the Oakland Raiders have strengthened another NFC team with the trading of a former first round pick. Oakland turned the Chicago Bears into a force in the NFC North Division with the trading of Khalil Mack, and they now may have provided the Cowboys exactly what they need with Cooper.
The Titans offensive woes can be attributed to the opening weekend injury suffered by quarterback Marcus Mariota, who’s injured elbow limited both his playing time and effectiveness. Tonight, he starts in Dallas following a prolonged rest following the Titans contest in London two weeks ago before they enjoyed their open date last weekend.
What that leaves us with for tonight’s matchup is two teams that have managed to stay in their division races, both the Cowboys and Titans are 3-4 in the won/loss column, without the benefit of a consistent offense. They both are in striking distance of their division leaders. The Cowboys are one game back of the Washington Redskins in the loss column in the NFC East following the Redskins defeat yesterday to the Atlanta Falcons. The Titans are one game back of the Houston Texans in the loss column in the AFC South Division.
In other words, either of these teams will go a long way to enhance their playoff prospects with a win tonight in Dallas. The Cowboys are favored, the line jumping between 4½ and 5 points on the spread, in a game that promises solid defensive play and renewed optimism for both of these offenses.
In a game like this, with two defensive minded teams, points are at a premium. There is just as a good of a chance of the Titans beating the point spread tonight as their is of them winning the game straight up. Which means this, by the numbers, we’ll take the two shots at winning with the Titans and points over the longer odds of the Cowboys both winning and covering the line.
Qoxhi Picks: Tennessee Titans (+4½) over Dallas Cowboys