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Cowboys-Bucs Preview, Props, Picks

The Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers close out Wild Card Weekend with the sixth rematch of a regular-season contest.

The familiarity between opponents has helped spark a high level of drama and some surprisingly competitive games through the first five playoff games. However, the Bucs’ victory over the Cowboys came 20 weeks ago in a 19-3 season-opening victory at Dallas.

That was the seventh time Bucs quarterback Tom Brady has beaten the Cowboys, who have never gotten the better of the seven-time Super Bowl champion. Dallas (12-5) is the superior team on paper, but Tampa Bay (8-9) is playing host to the game courtesy of winning the woeful NFC South. The Cowboys are also coming off a disappointing 26-6 loss at Washington to close out the regular season.

Dallas is still a 2.5-point favorite on the road. The public has been split at BetMGM, where the line opened at 3.0 and has since seen the total spread-line bets split, while the Bucs have a slight edge with 51 percent of the money backing them.

The Cowboys have been the more popular play at DraftKings, where they have been backed by 51 percent of the spread-line bets and 61 percent of the money. Dallas will have to reverse a lot of recent history to move on to a divisional round game at San Francisco. Not only have the Cowboys never beaten Brady, they have not won a road playoff game since 1991. Brady has the same amount of playoff victories as the Cowboys – 35 – and Dallas has only four since the franchise’s last won a Super Bowl to end the 1995 season.

“I think we’ll pay most attention to the fact that we’ve had the opportunity to compete twice against them,” Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said. “We have zero responsibility or time to worry about what’s happened in the past.”

PROP PICKS Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott Anytime TD (+115 at BetMGM): The same prop at DraftKings is offering a slightly lower payout at +105 as of mid-day Monday. Elliott scored 12 touchdowns during the regular season, including at least one in nine consecutive games leading up to Week 18 when he was held out of the end zone. The Bucs allowed 4.5 yards per carry in the regular season. Bettors seeking a bigger payout can also take a hard look at Elliott +700 to score the game’s first touchdown.

Bucs RB Leonard Fournette Over 36.5 Rushing Yards (-115 at DraftKings): The Bucs passed on 78 percent of their offensive plays during the regular season as their ground game was 32nd in yards per carry (3.4) in the regular season. Tampa Bay did rush for 152 yards in the season-opening win and should get center Ryan Jansen back. Rachaad White has been sharing more of the backfield workload since midseason, but we see offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich leaning heavily on the veteran experience Fournette brings to the postseason.

Cowboys LB Micah Parsons Over 0.75 Sacks (+110 at DraftKings): This has been among the most bet-on player props at the sportsbook since opening at +125. We still like the odds of Parsons picking up at least a sack on Monday night despite registering only 1.5 over the final six regular-season games. He had 2.0 in the first meeting and the immobile Brady was dropped 22 times during the regular season. With the amount Tampa Bay relies on Brady to drop back, there should be ample opportunity for Parsons to make impact plays in the backfield.

INJURY REPORT Cowboys: CB Trayvon Mullen (illness) was the only player ruled out on the final injury report. Parsons did not practice on Saturday due to a personal reason but is expected to play.

Bucs: OG Nick Leverett (knee/shoulder) and TE Kyle Rudolph (Knee) are doubtful. The Bucs listed nine players as questionable, including OLs Carlton Davis (shoulder), Robert Hainsey (hamstring) John Molchon (ankle) and OT Donovan Smith (foot), Ss Mike Edwards (hip), Logan Ryan (knee) and Keanu Neal (hip), LB Carl Nassib (pectoral) and DT Vita Vea (calf).

PREDICTION The Bucs are in the playoffs because of the division they play in. They have looked old and slow much of the season and are underdogs for good reason. Dallas has absorbed some head-scratching losses this season, including last week’s embarrassing setback at Washington. Part of the issue has been quarterback Dak Prescott’s issues with turnovers, but the Cowboys should be able to play a high-percentage passing game working off the tandem of Elliott and Tony Pollard hammering away at that soft Bucs run defense. –Field Level Media

  • Buccaneers vs. Cowboys spread: Cowboys -2.5

  • Buccaneers vs. Cowboys over-under: 45.5 points

  • Buccaneers vs. Cowboys money line: Dallas -140, Tampa Bay +118

  • Cowboys are 10-1 against the spread in their last 11 games following a loss

  • TB: Buccaneers are 4-1 ATS in their last five playoff games

–Cowboys 27, Bucs 23


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