The Dallas Cowboys (11-5) can clinch the NFC East division title and the NFC’s No. 2 seed with a win on the road against the Washington Commanders (4-12) this Sunday (1/7/24) at 4:25 p.m. EST. Betting odds have the Cowboys as 13-point favorites with the over/under set at 46 total points.
This article provides Cowboys vs. Commanders analysis, predictions and betting recommendations and explains why the best bet in this matchup is the under.
Cowboys vs. Commanders Prediction & Best Bet
These two teams could not be in more polar opposite positions unless they were literally the single best and worst teams in the NFL.
The Cowboys, in all likelihood, will win this game and finish the regular season as the No. 2 seed in the NFC with (at worst) the third best record and point differential in the NFL.
The Commanders, in all likelihood, will lose this game and finish the regular season tied for the second worst record in the NFL and with the 2nd overall pick in April’s NFL Draft.
We provide that context not to make the point that the Cowboys are really good and the Commanders are really bad – that point should be obvious to anyone that landed on this article looking for betting picks for this game. Rather than contrasting these teams’ 2023 performance, we are contrasting their motivations entering this game.
The Commanders are incentivized to lose – at least at an organizational level, as the coaches and players rarely actually buy into an intentionally losing strategy. The Cowboys have all the incentive in the world to win this game – a division title and a home playoff game (and quite possibly a second one) depends on it.
We don’t expect the Commanders to embrace the role of spoiler the way the Arizona Cardinals did last week against the Eagles or the way some expect the Bears to do against the Packers this week. The Commanders are a broken franchise that appears to have quit on its season.
Washington has the longest active losing streak in the league (7 games) and has a -107 point differential over those seven games (-15.3 points per game). Over that span — since week 10 — they are a bottom six team in both offensive and defensive EPA and they are dead last in net EPA by a wide margin.
The Cowboys handed the Commanders their most lopsided defeat during that stretch – a 45-10 beatdown on Thanksgiving Day. Granted that game was in Dallas, where the Cowboys have been unstoppable for nearly two full seasons having not lost a game at AT&T Stadium since week 1 of 2022.
The Cowboys have had their issues on the road this season – they are 3-5 with a -16 point differential. But the only issue they should have with being on the road this week is the weather, as this game could be played in heavy snow, wind and/or rain.
Because of the weather, and because we don’t expect the Commanders’ offense to do much against the Cowboys’ defense, the best bet in this game is the under on 46 total points. And while we expect the Cowboys to cover the spread as well, 13 points is a big number to cover on the road, especially if the total stays under 46 points. Dallas certainly could win by a score like 24-10, but betting on an outcome like that is more risky than simply taking the under.
Cowboys vs. Commanders Prediction & Best Bet: Cowboys win 28-16 | Best Bet: Under 46 total points
Cowboys vs. Commanders Betting Odds
The spread in this game is sitting just under two touchdowns, as the Cowboys are -13 betting favorites. That line has not moved more than 0.5 points and is unlikely to move much before kickoff.
The over/under in this game is trending downward, likely as a result of the weather, as it opened as high as 49.5 points and now sits as low as 45.5 points at some sportsbooks.
The implied outcome of these odds is the Cowboys winning 30-17.
Cowboys vs. Commanders Key Injuries
The most significant injury for the Commanders is QB Jacoby Brissett, who might have started this game if not for a hamstring injury. Elsewhere, starting DT Jonathan Allen and CB Kendall Fuller are worth monitoring.
For the Cowboys, the only starters at risk of missing this game at the moment are LG Tyler Smith and S Malik Hooker, though other players may end up being limited or inactive to preserve their health for the playoffs.
Cowboys vs. Commanders Key Matchups
Check out the key matchups and mismatches for Cowboys vs. Commanders below.
CeeDee Lamb vs. Commanders’ secondary
CeeDee Lamb is having the greatest season a Cowboys wide receiver has ever had. After posting career highs of 13 catches and 227 receiving yards last week against the Lions, he surpassed Hall of Famer Michael Irvin for the Cowboys’ franchise records in receptions and receiving yards in a season.
CeeDee Lamb now holds the Cowboys’ single-season record for receptions (122) & receiving yards (1,651). ⭐ pic.twitter.com/eGToOVy1jx
— Sunday Night Football on NBC (@SNFonNBC) January 3, 2024
The Commanders have nobody in their secondary that can match up with Lamb. He had a quiet game by his standards on Thanksgiving – 4 catches for 53 yards and a TD – but Dallas didn’t really need him to explode that week. Dak Prescott spread the ball around and still racked up 331 yards and four TDs.
The Cowboys’ passing attack might be slowed down by the weather in this game, but Lamb can still find success in catch-and-run situations using his elite run-after-catch ability. If the Cowboys are going to jump out to a big lead in this game, then Lamb is likely to make a few big plays along the way.
Brian Robinson Jr. vs. Cowboys’ run defense
In a bad weather game, expect the Commanders to lean on Brian Robinson Jr. and the rushing attack. That is also the best way to attack the Cowboys’ defense, which is 20th in the league against the run and dead last in run defense success rate.
Robinson Jr. was mostly bottled up in the last game, gaining just 53 yards on 15 carries (3.53 per carry). If he can’t find more success this week, then this game will be over quickly.
The Commanders will also use rookie Chris Rodriguez in their ground game, who is a similar power runner like Robinson. In a game that should feature the rushing attack heavily, both of those backs should see plenty of action.