Dallas Cowboys vs. Los Angeles Chargers: Prediction, Best Bets, Odds, Depth Charts for Monday Night Football (10/16/23)

Two playoff hopefuls square off on Monday Night Football this week (10/16/23) when the Los Angeles Chargers (2-2) host the Dallas Cowboys (3-2). The Cowboys are currently betting favorites at -2.5 on the road while the over/under is set at 50.5 points.

This article provides Cowboys vs. Chargers analysis, predictions and betting recommendations and explains why the best bet in this matchup is the Charger’s moneyline at +115.

Cowboys vs. Chargers Prediction & Best Bet

Will the real Dallas Cowboys please stand up?

All the buzz surrounding the Cowboys this season fizzled after their perplexing loss to the Cardinals in week 3, then it completely evaporated after they were embarrassed on Sunday Night Football against the 49ers last week.

That loss shifted the national perspective about the Cowboys from one of a legitimate contender to just a good team that beat up on some weak competition. The Cowboys’ wins have come against the Giants, Jets, and Patriots, who are a combined 4-11 and among the league’s worst teams based on advanced metrics like DVOA and EPA.

This week should tell us a lot more about the Cowboys, who are under immense pressure to bounce back from last week’s embarrassment. They will have to do it against former offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, now in the same position for the Chargers.

The showdown between Moore and Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is the key to this game. The Cowboys offense should be able to move the ball against the Chargers’ defense, but they don’t want to get into a shootout against Justin Herbert, Keenan Allen, and Austin Ekeler in his first game back from the injury he suffered in week 1.

Until we see the Cowboys defense step up against an offense that is better than the bottom 5 offenses they have dominated this season, we have a hard time trusting them. The loss of Trevon Diggs was a devastating blow to that unit, and it’s no coincidence they are 1-2 since that injury. Missing Leighton Vander Esch in this game also means that Micah Parsons might need to play more off-ball linebacker this week, which will limit his impact as a pass rusher.

This game could come down to which team takes better advantage of its red zone opportunities, and the Chargers have been far better at capitalizing on those opportunities this season. They are 5th in the league with a 68.8% red zone touchdown percentage, while the Cowboys are just 28th at 36.8%. The return of Ekeler should only help the Chargers in the red zone.

The Chargers have shown a miraculous ability to lose close games under coach Brandon Staley, but they at least keep most of their games close. We have yet to see the Cowboys play a close game this season, let alone win one. All their games this season have been decided by at least 12 points, and 4 of them have been decided by 20 points or more.

With the Chargers being at home and getting healthier coming off their bye week, they represent a solid value as a home underdog in this matchup. Taking the +2.5 points is the safest bet, but we like the Chargers to win this game outright at +115 on the moneyline.

Cowboys vs. Chargers Prediction & Best Bet: Chargers win 26-21 | Best Bet: Chargers moneyline +115

Cowboys vs. Chargers Betting Odds

DAL @ LAC

Oct. 16, 7:15 PM

Dallas Cowboys

DAL

Los Angeles Chargers

LAC

The spread in this game is sitting just under the key number of 3 with the Cowboys as -2.5 betting favorites. The line has not moved much but it’s still possible it could reach -3, so bettors looking to back the Chargers should monitor the odds to try to get that key number.

The total has seen a bit more movement as it opened at 47.5 but now sits at 50.5. That is the highest total on the week 6 schedule.

The implied outcome of these odds is the Cowboys winning 27-24.

Cowboys vs. Chargers Key Injuries

The Cowboys had 17 names on their initial injury report this week including multiple key starters, but most of them are expected to play in this game. The most important player that is expected to miss the game is LB Leighton Vander Esch, who got hurt last week and could be headed to the IR. Pro Bowl kick returner KaVontae Turpin also suffered a high ankle sprain last week and could miss this game. Star RB Tony Pollard is dealing with a shoulder injury but is expected to play.

The Chargers have some more significant injury concerns. Star edge rusher Joey Bosa missed their week 4 game and is trending towards missing at least 1 more game. Starting safety Alohi Gilman also missed that game and remains questionable this week. On the bright side, star RB Austin Ekeler, who has been out since week 1, is expected to return this week.

Cowboys vs. Chargers Key Matchups

Check out the key matchups and mismatches for Cowboys vs. Chargers below.

Keenan Allen vs. Cowboys’ secondary

As noted above, the Cowboys’ defense needs to step up in this game and show that it can slow down a competent offense, let alone an explosive one like the Chargers have. Aside from getting pressure on Justin Herbert, the most important factor for them to do that is defending Keenan Allen.

Allen has once again been a target monster for Herbert, especially after Mike Williams suffered a season-ending ACL injury. Allen is 3rd in the league in targets and receptions per game (8.75 receptions on 11 targets) and is 4th in receiving yards per game (minimum 2 games). He does most of his damage from the slot, lining up there on a team-high 64.3% of his snaps.

Jourdan Lewis became the Cowboys’ primary slot corner when Trevon Diggs got injured and DaRon Bland shifted to the outside. He is a capable player but is at a severe mismatch against Allen, who at 6-2 also has a big size advantage over the 5-10 cornerback.

Dallas could try using Bland to cover Allen instead of Lewis, and they also could use bracket coverages and double teams to contain the 5-time Pro Bowl wide receiver. Whatever they do, their ability to slow him down (or not) will be a huge factor in this game.

Tony Pollard vs. Chargers’ run defense

After Dak Prescott became a turnover machine again last week, throwing three interceptions to the 49ers, the Cowboys should look to take the pressure off him and lean on Tony Pollard and the ground game this week.

Pollard has been among the highest usage running backs in the league so far this season but has seen his efficiency drop off compared to the last two seasons when he averaged over 5 yards per carry as the change-of-pace back alongside Ezekiel Elliott. He is averaging 20 touches per game – 7th most in the league – but averaging a career-low 4.4 yards per touch.

One area where Pollard could be most effective in this game is as a receiving threat. He is averaging career highs in targets (4.4) and receptions (3.8) per game so far this season but a career-low 4.4 yards per target. The Chargers are giving up the most receptions and second-most receiving yards to opposing running backs so far this season.

If the Cowboys can get Pollard going, everything becomes easier for the offense and they can also win the time of possession battle and keep their defense fresh.

Cowboys Depth Chart

QB: Dak Prescott
RB1: Tony Pollard
RB2: Rico Dowdle
LWR: CeeDee Lamb
RWR: Michael Gallup
SWR: Brandin Cooks
TE1: Jake Ferguson

Chargers Depth Chart

QB: Justin Herbert
RB1: Austin Ekeler
RB2: Joshua Kelley
LWR: Josh Palmer
RWR: Quentin Johnston
SWR: Keenan Allen
TE1: Gerald Everett

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Noah hails from Philadelphia and is a diehard Philly sports fan. He graduated from Penn where he was a sports writer and editor for the student newspaper and also spent a summer covering the Baltimore Orioles for MLB.com. He has been playing fantasy sports since before live stats were a thing, and he has enjoyed learning the nuances of DFS in recent years. As a current resident of Florida, he is hoping the wave of sports betting legalization will eventually reach his home state.

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