Dallas (7-4) at New Orleans (5-6)
When: Thursday, December 2nd 2021
Where: Caesars Superdome,
New Orleans, LA
Time: 8:20 ET | TV: FOX
Opening Odds: Dallas -5/48
Two struggling teams will look to get back on track this week when the Dallas Cowboys visit the New Orleans Saints for a Thursday night battle in the bayou. Normally, teams playing on Thursday are coming off a Sunday game and short rest, but both played on Thanksgiving Day, giving them a full week to prepare. The Cowboys are not battling injuries as much as they are Covid. Head coach Mike McCarthy is at the top of the list of those who tested positive and won’t be on the sidelines Thursday. Defensive coordinator and former Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn will be the interim head coach. Right tackle Terence Steele, rookie cornerback Nahshon Wright and five assistant coaches will miss the game after testing positive for Covid-19. Dallas has lost back-to-back games for the first time this season after a 36-33 setback at home to the Las Vegas Raiders on Turkey Day. Their lead in the NFC East is down to two games over Washington, who the Cowboys still have to play twice.
New Orleans is plagued with key injuries including quarterback. The team is considering starting Taysom Hill under center this week to help end a four-game losing skid. The Saints have yet to win since Jameis Winston sustained a season-ending knee injury against Tampa Bay. Trevor Siemian has started in Winston’s place while Hill was recovering from a concussion and a foot injury, but has been ineffective. The Saints were scorched by the Buffalo Bills on Thanksgiving night 31-6, but are still alive in the crowded wild card standings in the NFC. Tackles Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk missed practice Tuesday because of knee injuries, while running back Alvin Kamara practiced on a limited basis after missing the last three games because of a knee ailment. All three are listed as questionable as of Wednesday morning. The Cowboys lead the all-time series 17-13 and the home team is 5-0 against the spread in the past five meetings.
Dallas lost at home to Las Vegas last Thursday, but played without its two star receivers in Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb. Both should play this week although the status of Cooper, who is unvaccinated and missed the last two games after testing positive, was undetermined. Dallas also expects the return of defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, who has been sidelined since sustaining a fractured foot early in the season. Dak Prescott still managed to throw for 375 yards and two scores without his two main targets. Ezekiel Elliott is still playing through an injured knee and rushed only nine times for 25 yards but did score. It didn’t help that cornerback Anthony Brown was called for defensive pass interference multiple times including the last drive that set up Las Vegas’ game-winning field goal. Dallas has rushed for fewer than 100 yards in four of the last five games and it averaged just 3.2 yards per carry against the Raiders.
Hill took first-team reps at practice Monday and apparently will start this week in place of Siemian. Hill has thrown just eight passes this season, completing seven for 56 yards and an interception. The Saints would love to see Kamara back on the field to kickstart this offense, but that is still to be determined. Kamara and fellow back Mark Ingram both missed last week’s game against the Bills and New Orleans never had a chance. The Saints will also be without tight end Adam Trautman, who was placed on the injured reserve. The defense is terrific against the run, ranking third in the league but are 23rd when it comes to defending the pass. The Saints have surrendered at least 23 points in five straight games.
I’m taking Dallas despite all the Covid issues. Prescott will have at least one of his top targets back and New Orleans can’t stop the pass. The Cowboys will probably ignore the running game and just throw it 50 times. Not having McCarthy on the sidelines could actually be addition by subtraction. Also, neither Siemian or Hill scare me at all.
Pick: Cowboys -4.5
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