The historic Thanksgiving Day tradition continues today. The dysfunctional Las Vegas Raiders head to Dallas to challenge the struggling Cowboys. In this prime-time matchup, let’s dive into the Raiders vs. Cowboys and determine the best pick and prediction for this NFL betting bout.
Thanksgiving Day Pick and Prediction: Raiders vs. Cowboys
We open Week 12 with two teams looking to get their offenses back on track. Las Vegas has had quite the newsworthy season thus far. The Raiders have had issues with consistency since their hot 3-0 start to the year. After getting embarrassed by the Cincinnati Bengals last week, the Raiders hope to get their previously elite offense going again.
Dallas has had offensive woes themselves the last month of the season. If you remove the game against the Falcons, the Cowboys’ offense has averaged 15 points over the previous month. They will be entering this game without their top two wide receivers in Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb.
Can Las Vegas generate enough offense to compete with Dallas to be a pick in this Raiders vs. Cowboys prediction?
What Happens in Vegas Doesn’t Always Stay in Vegas
What an inaugural season for the Las Vegas Raiders. Las Vegas needs a win tonight to remove the sour taste from their mouths of this season so far. Between the resignation of head coach Jon Gruden, the failed draft picks over the last few seasons, and the disappointing off-the-field issues plaguing this team, things have not gone well in 2021. The explosive Raiders offense from earlier in the season has plummeted, and quarterback Derek Carr can accept partial blame.
Since Week 8, Derek Carr’s average depth of target has dropped to 6.9 yards downfield compared to the 9.2 yards in the first half of the season. Vegas’ EPA per dropback ranks 27th overall during the same stretch. Over the last three weeks, the numbers look even bleaker. The Raiders are scoring on only 29% of their possessions compared to the 43.6% clip they were scoring at previously. They have become a predictable, pass-only offense and have an utterly underutilized stud running back in Josh Jacobs.
The offensive game plan for Las Vegas needs to change dramatically if they are to be considered a pick in tonight’s Raiders vs. Cowboys prediction.
Raiders vs. Cowboys | Vegas’ advanced metrics
This predictable offense has destroyed Jacobs’s elite skillset. Las Vegas’s offense ranks 20th in DVOA (Football Outsiders’ efficiency metric) and 25th when rushing the ball. He has yet to reach 100 total yards in a game this season and has run the ball a total of 16 times over the last two games. Without the explosive wide receiving threat of Henry Ruggs, the Raiders offense needs to resort to their balanced attack featuring Jacobs and using Carr to exploit the seams when the opportunity presents itself.
Las Vegas will also need to utilize the running attack to limit the time their defense has to stay on the field. The Raiders’ defense ranks in the bottom half overall and 23rd in DVOA against the pass. Las Vegas is above average at stopping the run, so if they can limit Ezekiel Elliot’s touches and not get beat by the Cowboys’ depleted receiving core, they could keep things close in this game.
Will the Raiders employ a traditional ground attack to keep the Cowboys offense off the field and make them a viable pick for today’s prediction?
The Cowboys are good again, and the hype is back. Although Dallas got dominated by the Kansas City Chiefs last week, the excitement around the Cowboys hasn’t been higher. They have an elite offense led by one of the best quarterbacks in the game, and their explosive playmakers can expose any defense in the league. Dallas failed to score a touchdown against Kansas City last week, and Las Vegas will hope to create the same environment in tonight’s game.
The elite Cowboys offense ranks 4th overall in DVOA, led by their No. 7 ranked passing attack. Surprisingly, the Dallas running game ranks below average in the league. They are 18th in rush DVOA and 24th in rush EPA (expected points added). With a quarterback in Dak Prescott that ranks 11th overall in the EPA + CPOE (completions over expected) composite, it makes sense why the Cowboys choose to focus on the pass.
Defensively, Dallas ranks 4th overall in DVOA, but that is carried primarily by their 3rd ranked secondary. The Cowboys are only 19th against the rush in terms of DVOA and 23rd when looking at EPA. If the Raiders do employ a rush-first attack with Jacobs, Dallas could have trouble. The Cowboys are allowing 4.5 yards per carry, which should open up the Raiders offense to move against this defense.
Are the Cowboys too elite for the Raiders to be considered a pick in tonight’s Raiders vs. Cowboys matchup? Or can the Raiders find the balance they need on offense and put pressure on this Cowboys offense which has struggled in two of the last three weeks?
Raiders vs. Cowboys pick and prediction
The Raiders are entering this game off a three-game losing streak and are desperate for a win. The Las Vegas offense has explosiveness, and if they alter their game plan, they could make this the get-right game. I expect the Raiders to employ a heavy rushing attack with Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow exploiting the middle.
A 7.5-point spread in today’s NFL is a large spread for two teams with offensive woes. Take the Raiders +7.5 as tonight’s pick in this matchup and expect a tightly fought battle with the Cowboys winning by a final score of 30-24.