The Tennessee Titans and the Dallas Cowboys meet on Monday Night Football (8:15 p.m., ESPN) fresh off their respective bye weeks. The Cowboys are four-point favorites as of Sunday morning (the initial line of Cowboys -6.5 has dropped considerably over recent days), while the betting total is a modest 40 points for the Week 9 finale.
Dallas has followed a simple pattern in 2018, alternating losses and wins to go into their Week 8 bye at 3-4. However, the Cowboys are a perfect 3-0 at AT&T Stadium this season. They also added wide out Amari Cooper just days after their heartbreaking loss to the Redskins in Week 7, so Dallas had plenty of time to incorporate their new weapon into the Dak Prescott-led passing offense.
“I think people respect him,” offensive coordinator Scott Linehan told reporters earlier in the week. “He’s a guy who can hurt the defense in a lot of ways with his skill set.”
Linehan indicated that Cooper will not be inhibited by any sort of snap count in his Cowboys debut.
“He’s going to be…playing a significant amount of snaps,” he said. “We’re not really easing him into the situation. Right now there is no limit with what we do with him.”
Cooper gives ‘America’s Team’ a much-needed deep threat, and more importantly, prevents opposing defenses from cheating up against Ezekiel Elliott. Elliott had an uncharacteristically poor outing against Washington when last seen, rushing for just 33 yards on 15 carries. He’s due for a bounce-back performance against a Titans defense that’s allowed over 100 yards on the ground in three of their last four games. They caught in break in London when Melvin Gordon was held out by the Chargers.
Tennessee has lost three straight heading into Monday night, and their run-heavy offense faces an uphill battle against a Cowboys defense that’s second in the NFL in points per game allowed, third in yards per game allowed, and fourth in yards per play allowed. They’ll also have to deal with a tenacious Dallas pass rush, led by DeMarcus Lawrence, and the Titans’ offensive line is just two games removed from a 10-sack debacle against Baltimore. Marcus Mariota has really struggled to move the football through the air when Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis aren’t at their best, as Tennessee has gone over 226 passing yards just once all year.
The Cowboys have been a great bet off bye weeks of late, going 9-4 straight-up and 10-3 against the spread since 2005. Expect this trend to continue on Monday night.