Week 13 of the 2021 NFL season kicks off Thursday night when Saints play host to Dak Prescott and the Cowboys in an NFC showdown with playoff implications.
The Cowboys head into Thursday night without head coach Mike McCarthy as well as six other members of the coaching staff due to COVID-19 protocols. Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn will handle head coaching responsibilities against the Saints during McCarthy’s absence.
The Cowboys are hoping to welcome back star wideout Amari Cooper, who has missed the past two games after being placed on the COVID-19 list. On Tuesday, we learned that he is battling a cough and has yet to return to practice.
Dallas, led by star quarterback Dak Prescott, has lost three of its last four games both straight up (SU) and against the spread (ATS). Prior to the recent skid, the Cowboys were the best team for bettors to support at the counters, beginning the season 6-1 SU and 7-1 ATS. Dallas, which is 3-2 SU and 4-1 ATS on the road this season, will try to overcome a myriad of injuries as well as pandemic issues against a struggling Saints club.
The Saints, losers of four straight, have failed to earn a victory since beating Tampa Bay in Week 8. In that impressive win over the Buccaneers, New Orleans lost starting quarterback Jameis Winston (knee) for the season. New Orleans, which is 5-6 ATS overall, has burned bettors specifically over the last six games, with a 2-4 ATS mark. It needs to be highlighted that New Orleans’ most recent struggles are also strongly due to the absence of star running back Alvin Kamara (knee) in the past three games.
- Spread: Dallas Cowboys -4.5 (-110) | New Orleans +4.5 (-110)
- Moneyline: Dallas (-200) | New Orleans (+265)
- Total: 47.5– Over (-110) | Under 47.5 (-110)
- Public (Spread) Betting Percentages: DAL 66% | NO 34%
- Game Info: Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021 | 8:20 pm EST | NFL Network
The line has dropped since its opening in favor of Dallas (7-4, SU; 8-3 ATS) as a 5.5-point road favorites over New Orleans to just a 4.5-point demand at SI Sportsbook. The total, which opened at 48, has ticked down to 47.5. The Saints (5-6 SU; 5-6 ATS), who have averaged the sixth-fewest passing yards (198.2) per game this season, could potentially turn to Taysom Hill under center to spark the offense. The versatile Hill, who has only thrown eight passes this season, would be an upgrade over a struggling Trevor Siemian, who has lost all four starts since taking over for the injured Winston. New Orleans has struggled at the Caesars Superdome, posting a 5-7 ATS mark over their last 12 regular-season home games.
In Week 13, the Cowboys will welcome back star wideout CeeDee Lamb (concussion) but may still be without fellow starting wide receiver Amari Cooper, who remains in the COVID-19 protocol. In addition, it has been revealed that star running back Ezekiel Elliott is battling a deep bone bruise on his knee and could be limited on the short week. Prescott was superb in the second half against the Raiders on Thanksgiving despite missing both of his top weapons in the passing game. With a potentially limited Elliott facing the league’s third-best run defense (91.9 rushing yards per game), Dallas will likely lean heavily on Prescott once again on Thursday night.
Dallas possesses arguably the most talented wide receiving corps in Cooper, Lamb and Michael Gallup as well as tight end Dalton Shultz, resulting in the third-best aerial attack at 292.4 passing yards per game. With Cooper’s status in doubt, Lamb has become the target of respected money in player proposition wagering. According to oddsmakers, Lamb projects to have the most receiving yards of any player on Thursday night. The electrifying talent, who leads the club in targets (77), receptions (50), receiving yards (740) and receiving touchdowns (6), will find increased volume in the passing game with the potential absence of Cooper. Against a shaky Saints pass defense, Lamb is a solid investment to surpass his 60.5 receiving yards betting projection - a number he has exceeded seven times this season.
On the other side of the ball, the Saints lack any true game-changers without Kamara in the lineup. However, the addition of Hill under center combined the potential return of Kamara would help the Saints find production against a Dallas defense that is susceptible to surrendering big plays. Dallas has allowed Tom Brady, Justin Herbert, Jalen Hurts, Sam Darnold and Derek Carr to throw for 300-plus yards this season. Hill is an attractive investment at odds of +275 to find the end zone on Thursday night against Dallas. The dynamic Hill has scored 21 touchdowns in 60 career games, and at a 35% clip in his career, nearly 3/1 odds make this a solid wager. Outside of Hill, there are simply too many unknowns this far out, leading to professional money limiting their player proposition targets on a short week.
Frankie's Thursday Night Football Play
NFL bettors just witnessed the New Orleans defense come up terribly short on Thanksgiving against Buffalo’s prolific offense, so it is fair to assume further struggles against Dallas' top-ranked offense, averaging 419.8 yards per game, are on the horizon. From a side perspective, the Cowboys own one the best ATS (8-3) records in the NFL. The Cowboys will have the best player on the field in Prescott piloting the a dominant offense, facing a Saints defense that has surrendered the 12th-most points per game this season (22.6).
If you are under the assumption that backing the home teams in the NFL is a profitable endeavor this season you are sadly mistaken. In fact, home teams are just 78-101-1 (43.6%) ATS, while more specifically home underdogs are a mere 34-38 (47.2%) ATS thus far in 2021. The over has hit in four of the Saints’ last five games, and New Orleans will now face the task of finding a way to slow the high powered Cowboys on a short week, with a quarterback making his first start of the season. If Kamara is unable to suit up, this could be a solid get-right spot for the Cowboys - same as it was for Buffalo on Thanksgiving night.
BET: Dallas -4 (-120)
Cee Dee Lamb, WR, Cowboys: Over 60.5 Receiving Yards
Taysom Hill, QB, Saints: Anytime-Touchdown +275 (Half Unit)
SI BET REVIEW
2021 SI Betting Monday Night Football: 6-6 ATS / Props 11-11 +2.15 units
2021 SI Betting NFL Football Overall YTD: 34-28 ATS & Props +7.15 Units
2020 SI Betting NFL Football: 72-58-1 ATS (55%)
Frankie Taddeo is a successful high-stakes fantasy football player who created the first-ever DFS program ever offered in a Las Vegas sportsbook. Frankie is SI Betting's Senior Analyst and provides his significant experience and resources in the sports betting scene. You can follow Frankie on Twitter @Frankie_Fantasy for his latest betting and fantasy insights from Las Vegas.