OAKLAND RAIDERS (4-7)
at DALLAS COWBOYS (6-5)
Kickoff: Thursday, 4:30 p.m. ET
Line: Dallas -9.5, Total: 46.5
The slumping Raiders look to get back in the win column on Thanksgiving Day visiting a confident Cowboys squad.
Oakland allowed a game-winning touchdown to the Titans in the final minute of a 23-19 home loss last week, marking its third defeat in the past four games. Although QB Terrelle Pryor is healthy, the Raiders are sticking with QB Matt McGloin (4 TD, 1 INT) as the starter. Dallas kicked a field goal as time expired to escape with a 24-21 road win over the Giants last week, which was its fourth win in the past six contests, with three of those victories coming versus division foes. These teams haven't met since 2009, when the Cowboys won 24-7, and it could happen again as Oakland is 1-8 ATS versus terrible defensive teams (375+ YPG allowed) over the past three seasons. However, Dallas never seems to build on momentum in this same timeframe, going 6-15 ATS after one or more consecutive wins. Both teams are dealing with plenty of injuries, as the Raiders will likely be without top WR Denarius Moore (shoulder) and top TE Mychal Rivera (concussion) on offense, and could also be missing CB Mike Jenkins (concussion), LB Kevin Burnett (quad) and DT Daniel Muir (knee) on defense. The Cowboys will still be without top LB Sean Lee (hamstring), while DE Jason Hatcher (neck) and CB Morris Claiborne (hamstring) are both questionable.
Can the Cowboys win and cover the monster spread here? For the answer, connect to NFL Best Bets for all the StatFox Experts picks throughout the 2013 season and playoffs. The experts are surging in NFL Best Bets, combining for a 59% ATS record (37-26-6) over the past five weeks. StatFox Brian has a 63% ATS (15-9-2) mark over the past six weeks, and StatFox Gary had his fifth perfect week in NFL Best Bets with a 3-0 ATS mark in Week 12. StatFox Scott went 3-1 ATS in Week 12 and is 60% ATS (18-12-1) in NFL Best Bets since Week 4.
Oakland QB Matt McGloin has exceeded expectations since assuming the starting role, completing 56% of his passes for 544 yards (6.9 YPA), 4 TD and 1 INT. He has taken only two sacks in the three games combined, which is a big improvement over Terrelle Pryor who has absorbed 29 sacks in his eight contests. Although McGloin will not likely have his top receiver, WR Denarius Moore (shoulder), he has developed a nice rapport with WR Rod Streater, connecting five times for 93 yards in last week's loss. Oakland prefers to run the football though, chewing up 140.6 YPG (4th in NFL) on 4.9 YPC (3rd in league), and should continue to thrive on the ground with a two-headed attack of RBs Rashad Jennings and now-healthy Darren McFadden (352 rush yards, 3.6 YPC, 4 TD). Since McFadden injured his hamstring in Week 9, Jennings has totaled 553 yards from scrimmage (138.3 per game), gaining 5.7 yards per carry. But McFadden, who is listed as probable, is also able to run the football and operate as a receiver, so expect both players to have plenty of success against a horrible Cowboys defense. The Raiders defense has done a great job stopping the run this year, allowing only 99.1 YPG (8th in NFL) and 3.8 YPC (7th in league). However, they will have their hands full with a great Dallas air attack, as the Raiders are surrendering 258.1 passing YPG (25th in NFL). While Oakland's red zone defense has been solid (54%, 12th in NFL), its third-down defense has been below average at 39% (19th in NFL). Although the Raiders failed to generate any Titans turnovers last week, they had piled up 13 takeaways in the previous six contests.
Dallas QB Tony Romo has had another strong season, completing 64% of his passes for 2,915 yards (7.2 YPA), 23 TD and just 7 INT. This includes a 105.7 passer rating at home (7.8 YPA, 13 TD, 4 INT), where his team is 4-1 (SU and ATS) with a hefty 34.6 PPG and 362 total YPG. After a game in which he was targeted just two times, WR Dez Bryant saw 15 targets in last week's win over the Giants, turning those into nine catches for 86 yards. Bryant has eight touchdowns this year, but none over the past three weeks. Dallas has little trouble throwing the ball, but this remains a subpar rushing team with 79.7 YPG (29th in NFL) on 4.0 YPC (20th in league). But now that RB DeMarco Murray is healthy, he has posted back-to-back strong games, totaling 175 yards on 30 carries (5.8 YPC) and a touchdown. On the other side of the ball, the Cowboys have the NFL's worst total defense, allowing an eye-popping 432.2 total YPG. This includes 298.6 passing YPG (2nd-worst in league) and 133.6 rushing YPG (3rd-worst in NFL) on a league-worst 5.1 yards per carry. Dallas is giving up 25.4 PPG (23rd in NFL) due largely to a porous red zone defense (60%, T-25th in league) and a subpar third-down defense (40%, 21st in NFL). The one positive for this defense is that it has forced multiple turnovers in a game six different times this season.