SNF best bets: Cowboys can clinch NFC East title vs. Washington
The scenario is simple for the Dallas Cowboys: They'll clinch their first NFC East title since 2018 with a win or a Philadelphia Eagles loss Sunday. The situation is much more desperate for the Washington Football Team. Washington trails three teams for the final wild-card spot and essentially needs to win out to reach the postseason.
Here's how we're betting Washington-Dallas:
C Jackson Cowart: Cowboys -10
They've gone under the radar amid the craziness of the last few weeks, but the Cowboys are quietly making their case as one of the NFL's best teams. Dallas ranks second in DVOA and is the only team in the league to rank in the top 10 in offense (eighth), defense (third), and special teams (fourth) after last week's dominant 21-6 win over the Giants.
That victory came a week after the Cowboys' 27-20 win over Washington, which may tempt you to take the points in the rematch. Yet that contest wasn't as close as the final score would suggest. Dallas outgained its division rival by nearly 100 yards, was more efficient on third down, and committed two fewer turnovers, but a late pick-6 for Washington distracted from the Cowboys' early 24-0 lead.
Washington will also be relying on Taylor Heinicke to turn things around after his substandard showing two weeks ago. He finished 11-for-25 for 122 yards, one touchdown, and one interception before leaving with an injury. Heinicke has thrown a pick in each of his last three games; if he's sloppy Sunday, this game won't be close.
Alex Moretto: Washington +10
This is as good a time as any to sell high on the Cowboys, who've largely benefitted from an easy schedule. As well as they're playing defensively, they're being a tad overrated in the market thanks to said schedule, as well as a bit of turnover luck. Dallas has managed 12 takeaways in the last three weeks, which isn't sustainable.
On offense, the Cowboys have done little to justify laying double digits, especially against a divisional opponent that's seeing them for a second time in three weeks. Washington has played much better over the last six weeks and will get a lot of guys off the COVID list for this one, including Heinicke.
The familiarity between these teams bodes well for those taking the points with such a big spread, as does the desperation Washington will play with here - its playoff hopes are essentially done with a loss. Expect Washington to have a better game plan to attack this Dallas defense than in the first meeting in Week 14, while there's no reason to believe Dak Prescott and this Cowboys offense will suddenly snap out of their funk.
Matt Russell: Washington +10
When these teams met three weeks ago, the line shot up that Sunday morning from Cowboys -4.5 to -7. While I was on Dallas at the early number, I might've taken Washington, and lost, if I wasn't already committed.
The Cowboys' defense was at full strength for the first time all season that day, and it showed. Dallas swarmed Taylor Heinicke, who had his worst game as a professional before being knocked out of it entirely. If the Cowboys can replicate that, they're capable of covering this big of a number. However, I think that's a lot to ask.
It's especially tough when the offense isn't firing on all cylinders. The Cowboys were content to settle for field goals against the Giants last week and took advantage of the short fields they were given in Washington, but we're still waiting for them to consistently convert long drives. Without Tyron Smith, a key cog in protecting Dak Prescott, I don't expect that to start Sunday night.
With the expectation that Washington will get back many of the players it was without Tuesday in Philadelphia, look for the team to give the Cowboys all they can handle with its best effort in weeks.