The Gotta Get Unstuck Game of the Week includes a Tuesday Night Football matchup between the Baltimore Ravens (6-5) and Dallas Cowboys (3-8). Despite a three-game skid, the Ravens are in the thick of the AFC Wild Card race.
The Cowboys lost five out of their previous six games, including a 41-16 thrashing by Washington on Thanksgiving. Their three close wins were decided by a margin of seven total points.
The well-rested Cowboys had extra time to prepare for the Ravens this week. The NFL originally scheduled the Cowboys to appear on back-to-back Thursday games, including on Turkey Day and on Thursday Night Football in Week 13. Due to the outbreak within the Ravens organization, their Thanksgiving nightcap against Pittsburgh was pushed back six days to last Wednesday. As a result, the Week 14 Thursday Night Football game against Dallas was postponed until Tuesday Night.
|TNF: Dallas Cowboys (3-8) at Baltimore Ravens (6-5)|
- Kick-off: 5:05pm
- Point Spread: BAL -8.5
- Total: 45 o/u
- Moneyline: DAL +320 / BAL -400
With backup QB Andy Dalton at the helm for Dallas, the Cowboys are +8.5 underdogs. Dalton will face one of the toughest defenses in the league that allows only 19.5 points per game and which is ranked #3 overall. Dallas, on the other hand, boasts the worst defense in the NFL, allowing 32.6 ppg. Teams love running against the Cowboys’ Swiss cheese run defense that allows 156.4 rushing yards per game.
Lamar Jackson tested positive for COVID-19 shortly before Thanksgiving, but came off the reserve/COVID list. Robert Griffin III started at QB last week in their loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. With RG3 banged up, Jackson returns to the lineup in the nick of time.
Dallas Dunzo, Slippery When Zeke
Mathematically speaking, the Dallas Cowboys are still in contention for a playoff berth. It’s a long, long, long, long shot. FiveThrtyEight has Dallas at 3% of reaching the postseason, whereas Football Outsiders posted slightly more optimistic odds at 8%. The Cowboys will have to run the table and win the rest of their remaining games, including Tuesday Night Football against the Ravens and every single division game remaining.
Dallas plays in the NFC East, otherwise known as the NFC Least, which is why a 3-8 team still has outs, as crazy as that seems.
If the Cowboys expect to upset the Ravens, Zeke Elliot will have to rise to the occasion. Elliot rushed 181 times for 707 yards and five touchdowns. He averages 3.9 yards per carry, which is off from the 4.6 YPC he averaged in the previous two seasons. He also added 39 receptions and two touchdown catches.
The Cowboys are getting crushed in the turnover department with a -13 turnover differential for second-worst in the league. They lead the league with 13 fumbles. Even Elliot failed to effectively protect the ball with five fumbles — just one short of his career-high. The ball hasn’t been bouncing Elliot’s way. He lost four fumbles and recovered just one in 11 games. To put that in perspective, in the previous five seasons, he lost five total fumbles in 56 games.
Baltimore Coin Flip Bubble
The AFC North, known for its rough-and-tumble smashmouth football mentality, might send three teams to the playoffs this season. With seven AFC teams advancing to the postseason, the Ravens are jockeying for that third wild-card spot. The Pittsburgh Steelers finally lost their first game of the season, but they’re a near-lock for the division title. The Cleveland Browns improved to 9-3 after an impressive victory over the Tennessee Titans.
The Ravens face their biggest challenge in December next Monday Night when they visit the Dawg Pound in Cleveland to play the Browns. Baltimore closes out their season with two home games against the one-win Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 15, and the surging New York Giants in Week 16. In Week 17, the Ravens conclude the season with a road game against the Bengals in Cincinnati.
The Ravens are better than a coinflip at 54% to qualify for the playoffs via a wild-card spot, according to FiveThirtyEight. Over at Football Outsiders, the Ravens are a 49.2% chance to grab a wild-card spot. The Ravens should finish the season 10-6, which hopefully for them, will be enough wins to lock up a postseason berth.
During Baltimore’s previous four losses, they lost each game by a single score. They lost by six points against New England and Tennessee. They also dropped two heartbreakers against Pittsburgh, including a four-point loss in Week 8 and a five-point loss in Week 12.