Monday night Football

Monday night Football : The Cowboys’ newly acquired wide receiver will make his debut in Dallas … Cowboys-Titans Pick: How Will Amari Cooper Factor into Dallas Cowboys or Tennessee Titans find momentum after the bye week? The staff gives their ‘gut feelings’ about the Monday Night Football matchup at AT&T …. 5 Claves del Juego: Cowboys vs Titans.

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Monday night Football

A pair of 3-4 teams coming off a bye meet up in Dallas on “Monday Night Football” when the Cowboys and Titans clash at 8:15 p.m. ET. The Cowboys beat the trade deadline rush by shipping a first-round pick to the Raiders for wide receiver Amari Cooper on Oct. 22. He’s set to make his Dallas debut in the national spotlight Monday. The Cowboys are favored by 4.5 points in the latest Titans vs. Cowboys odds, up a half-point from the opening line. The over-under for total points is 40.5, one of the lowest of Week 9. Both teams have had time to retool following the week off, so expect some new wrinkles in this matchup. Before you lock in any Titans vs. Cowboys picks, be sure to check out what SportsLine expert Mike Tierney has to say.

Tierney is a veteran national sportswriter who has emerged as the top NFL expert for SportsLine. He enters Week 9 of the NFL season on a blistering 31-11 run on all his NFL picks, returning almost $2,000 to $100 bettors during that span. He also has a keen eye for when to back and when to fade Dallas, evidenced by his strong 17-8 run on all his picks involving the Cowboys.

The last time the Cowboys played at home, Tierney picked Dallas (+3.5) for a matchup against the Jaguars. The result: Dallas not only covered, but exploded for a 40-7 outright win that covered the spread with an unthinkable amount of room to spare.

Now he has zeroed in on Cowboys vs. Titans and locked in another strong play over at SportsLine.

Tierney has considered the ramifications of Cooper’s addition to the Cowboys’ offense. The Cowboys have struggled to consistently move the ball this year, with no receiver managing to record more than 40 catches or 350 total yards through seven games.

Cooper, who had two 1,000-yard campaigns in three full seasons in Oakland, adds a new dimension for quarterback Dak Prescott and the offense. His presence should relieve some stress for Ezekiel Elliott and the run game as well. Even a modest improvement to the offense could be a difference-maker for a Dallas team that boasts the No. 2 scoring defense in the league.

But just because the Cowboys made a big splash in recent weeks doesn’t mean they’ll cover the spread against Tennessee.

While the Titans enter “Monday Night Football” ranked 30th in the league in points scored, they’ve been a tough team to get separation from on the scoreboard. Outside of a 21-0 setback to the Ravens, the Titans’ other three losses to the Dolphins, Bills and Chargers have come by a combined eight points.

In their last outing against the Chargers in London, the Titans roared back to pull the game within a point before a failed two-point conversion ended their chances at an upset.

The Dallas Cowboys will look to tee off on the inadequate Titans offense that currently ranks 24th on the ground and 31st through the air, and with the 2nd ranked secondary expect Dallas’ defense to have a strong opening quarter. As such, the Cowboys will go to work on the ground when they get the football, and while Tennesee’s rush defense is middle of the pack that is not good enough against one of the league’s best backs. Ezekiel Elliott is such a dynamic rusher and, with the well documented struggles surrounding Dak Prescott and the passing game, expect Zeke to burden the load once again and score the game’s first major.

The Dallas passing game ranks 30th in the NFL coming into Monday night, which is part of the reason why they went out and traded for former Raiders’ pro bowl receiver Amari Cooper. The upgrade out wide will certainly help Prescott and the Dallas passing game, but they face a Tennessee secondary that ranks 7th in the NFL and success through the air might be tough to come by. However, if the Cowboys can generate success along the ground they should be able to open lanes for Cooper and Cole Beasley downfield and ultimately allow them to score some points. The line on their first half total is at 10.5 which seems incredibly low for a home team in prime time even if it is the Cowboys. Take Dallas to go Over in the first half.

The Titans offense has been subpar all season long, and while Corey Davis offers some explosiveness down field it’ll be tough for him to find space against this stellar Cowboys secondary. Tennessee, meanwhile, should have success keeping the Dallas passing game in check as well, and with neither team being able to eat up chunks of yards at a time expect the kicking game to play a huge factor. The Titans will need to convert their field goal opportunities to keep this game close and getting their field goal prop at a relatively cheap price is too good to pass on.

The total in this game is incredibly light for a prime time Monday night showdown, but with the inadequacies of each team’s offense and the strength of each team’s secondary it makes sense to see the total at 40 points. It’s no secret that the Cowboys are going to run the football and hope to catch a blown coverage downfield, while the Tennessee offensive plan is going to be very similar as they don’t have many weapons to expose a very good Cowboys secondary. As such, it’s safe to expect a low scoring affair. The kicking game, running game, and defense of each team will be featured and Marcus Mariota and Dak Prescott will be relegated into game managers. The Cowboys have gone Under in 13 of their last 16 while the Titans have come in Under in five of their last six. Look for those trends to continue here in a game that finishes around the 36-point mark.

The Cowboys are undefeated at home this season while the Titans are 1-2 on the road and have fallen well short of expectations. Dallas was held in check on the ground two weeks ago against the Washington Redskins and with the bye week mixed in, and coming off a disappointing outing, this looks like a great spot for Elliott to rebound. The Titans have looked pedestrian this season and even in victory they haven’t looked like a playoff contender and, while they have covered the number in six straight Monday night games, they are in tough here. Dallas is 6-1 ATS in their last seven following a game in which they accumulate fewer than 90 yards rushing, and 9-4-1 ATS in their last 14 against a team with a losing record. The Cowboys keep those numbers trending in their favor.

With deficient wide receivers, analysts have been calling for the Cowboys to feature fewer spread formations and iso routes, and more multifaceted route combinations to help their passing game. When receivers can’t win on their own, your scheme must aid them. Jason Garrett and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan have become more receptive to schemed passing concepts as this season has progressed. But will that continue now that Amari Cooper is here? It’s easy to envision the Cowboys using Cooper’s first-round price tag and hefty contract to justify a return to their old spread tactics. They clearly see Cooper as a true No. 1 receiver, and a true No. 1 should allow you to spread out. The problem is Cooper, because he sometimes struggles against press coverage, is not a great iso-route player—that’s why Oakland traded him. Like Dallas’s incumbent receivers, Cooper is better as part of a route combination. The sooner the Cowboys realize this, the better.

This is an especially important week for Dallas to feature route combinations. The Titans have two outstanding cover corners in Logan Ryan and Adoree Jackson, and a capable third corner in the (albeit, up-and-down) Malcolm Butler. Complicating matters is the fact these men have maybe the league’s best deep-field safety behind them (Kevin Byard), and the ability to play detailed zone coverage, which Tennessee in certain games has featured more than man-to-man.

Prior to the season, Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur said he viewed Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis as running backs 1A and 1B. LaFleur wouldn’t—and shouldn’t—say this publicly, but now halfway through the season, there’s no way he doesn’t see Lewis as RB1 and Derrick Henry as a very distant RB2. Lewis is a quick, balanced runner with outstanding vision; Henry is a slow-starting mauler who requires near-perfect blocking so that he can have time to kick into gear. It’s no surprise that Lewis has wound up playing over 63% of the snaps while Henry has played just under 38%.

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