Interesting matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills. The Cowboys are a Thanksgiving Day NFL fixture while the Bills have not played on ‘Turkey Day’ since 1994. Cowboys coming off an ugly 13-9 loss to the New England Patriots that really set off team owner Jerry Jones. Jones all but said that head coach Jason Garrett needs to make the playoffs and do some damage while there if he wants to keep his job. That’s likely the litmus test for Garrett though a strong showing here would only help his cause. Jones has since walked back some of his comments but nevertheless Garrett is clearly on the hot seat.
Buffalo is pretty happy with head coach Sean McDermott and the Bills are 8-3 and in the running for a postseason berth. The Bills have done it with defense and rank #3 in total defense (288.6 YPG), #3 in pass defense (184.3 YPG) and #3 in scoring defense (15.7 PPG). The rap on Buffalo is their schedule which has been extremely weak. Their wins have come against the Jets, Giants, Bengals, Titans, Redskins, Broncos and Dolphins (twice).
Buffalo is somewhat vulnerable on the ground, ranking just #15 against the run which suggests a busy day for Ezekiel Elliott. The Bills get a lot of heat for their weak schedule but the Cowboys have also shown a pronounced tendency to do well against weak opponents while struggling when they step up in class. Dallas is 1-3 ATS against opponents with winning records this year and 6-11 ATS last three years. Lost in Jones’ tirade after the New England game was the fact that the Cowboys’ defense performed very well. The Patriots offense has also sputtered of late but Dallas was in the game throughout and got the cover as +5 road underdogs.
The Bills’ don’t get much credit for their offense which is still a ‘work in progress’ though generally we like former Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen. Allen is becoming a much better decision maker and hadn’t thrown an interception in five weeks until one poor pass against Denver last week. Buffalo’s offense is definitely not ‘high octane’ but they’re not completely inept either ranking #21 in points per game. This is a crucial stretch for the Bills–after this they’ll face Baltimore, Pittsburgh and New England before concluding the regular season against the Jets.
Cowboys have covered only one of their last eight Thanksgiving Day appearances and face a Buffalo team that has been very strong against the number of late going 9-3-1 ATS in their last 13 games. It never hurts to be a ‘contrarian’ in the NFL and on a big day for ‘public’ bettors that is likely the right position here. There’s no bigger ‘public’ team in sports than the Dallas Cowboys so we’ll take the point with the improving Bills.