Sometimes, the games that seem to be the most clear-cut are the stage for the most madness. The Carolina Panthers are hoping that will be the case as they play host to the Dallas Cowboys this Sunday (11/19/23). With big names like Dak Prescott and Adam Thielen set to compete, there’s plenty of value on the board when it comes to Cowboys vs. Panthers player props, so let’s dig in and make some picks.
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With the Cowboys poised to run away with this one, nailing down the game script will be a massive factor in determining who’s going to have a big game, and who will be less productive than usual.
Jake Ferguson Anytime Touchdown (+165)
After scoring just once in Dallas’s first six games, Ferguson has roared into the picture with scores in each of the past three contests. Yes, investing in his touchdown scorer prop given that information could be construed as “buying high,” but I’d argue that at +165, the number hasn’t moved enough that it’s really “high” enough to qualify for that pitfall.
One thing we know for sure is that Ferguson is beginning to rack up more red-zone targets. While he can’t score a touchdown every week in perpetuity, that trend is only a positive in the long run. His streak is going to end eventually, but it shouldn’t be this week, as he faces a Carolina defense that ranks dead last in the NFL in preventing touchdowns on opponent red-zone possessions.
Combined with the general weakness of the Dallas run game this season, the Cowboys should be throwing for plenty of touchdowns. Given his recent role in the offense, it’s not hard to imagine Ferguson finding himself on the receiving end of one of those strikes.
Dak Prescott Under 258.5 Passing Yards (-115)
This is definitely a game script play. Prescott is playing good enough football that in a vacuum, I have no interest in fading him. But it’s hard to imagine him putting up too many pass attempts in this one. That’s in part because the Cowboys are going to absolutely turn this into a blowout, but that’s not the only reason. Prescott cracked 400 yards in a laugher over the Giants last week.
The difference between that game and this one is that if he so chose, Prescott could have thrown for as many yards on that Giants defense as he wanted. This Panthers unit has some issues to be sure. But defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero has worked wonders with the pass prevention unit. Against all odds, they’ve been just about average; 14th in EPA against the pass, and 16th in DVOA, much better than anyone expected of them before the year.
This group is still dealing with some injuries, but they’re about as healthy as they’ve been all season, a definitive positive trend. As for Prescott’s own recent performance, he’s been over this number four weeks in a row after eclipsing it just once in the first five games. That is the definition of the peak of the market, and makes this an outstanding time to sell high on this particular prop, even as Prescott continues to play some great ball.
Adam Thielen Over 5.5 Receptions (-135)
This is an interesting one, it’s not as granular as a yardage prop, so the odds are going to vary a bit. Search around for better value than -135 if you can find it. Or even look for a number of 6.5 with the over in plus-money- as we’ll discuss. There’s a pretty good chance that over will hit as well.
Thielen has been, by far, the top target for Bryce Young as the rookie has adjusted to the NFL. After an unproductive first game, he’s been below this number just one time. In that game, he went under by just half a catch as he recorded five receptions. And he’s only been as low as six one other time after opening day.
Game script is a huge factor here. The Panthers should be trailing this entire game, and thus getting the ball into the air. It’s hard to know just how much downfield success they’ll be able to find against a very solid Dallas defense. So we’ll stick to Thielen’s catches prop rather than yardage. With some good volume coming from Young, he should have plenty of targets coming his way. So far, nearly 30% of Young’s passes have been directed at him, and there’s no reason to expect that trend to turn around anytime soon.
DeMarcus Lawrence Over 0.75 Sack (-110)
With all of those potential dropbacks for Young, there will be plenty of opportunities for the Dallas defense to put him on the ground. When you think of the Cowboys pass rush, you think of Micah Parsons, but the numbers on him simply are too juiced to be worth betting compared to his actual output. So let’s approach this one from a different angle – his edge rushing partner.
Lawrence has had a slow start to this season in terms of sacks – he only has three thus far. But that makes this a great time to buy low. His pass rush win rate of 19.6% is excellent, just below Parsons at 22.4%, so the sacks should come sooner rather than later. Going up against a Panthers O-line that ranks 25th in adjusted sack rate and 26th in PFF’s pass blocking grade, Lawrence should be able to get home for at least the one sack he needs to push this prop over.