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Dallas Cowboys vs. Oakland Raiders Point Spread - Pick

Dallas Cowboys (7-6 SU, 7-6 ATS) vs. Oakland Raiders (6-7 SU, 4-8-1 ATS)
Week 15 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday Night Football, December 17, 2017 at 8:30PM EST
Where: Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, California
TV: NBC

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: DAL -2.5/OAK +2.5
Over/Under Total: 45.5

The Dallas Cowboys come to the Coliseum to take on the Oakland Raiders on Sunday Night Football. The Cowboys were able to break a close game with the Giants open late, posting a 30-10 win to lift their record to 7-6. The Cowboys look to get things rolling after two straight wins and look like they have snapped into better form. They now face a tricky road spot against a Raiders team that fell on its face on Sunday. After appearing to right the ship some with two straight wins, they had a chance to climb into the division lead against a downward-spiraling Chiefs team. Instead, they fell behind 26-0, looked terrible, and fell to 6-7 on the season. Can they get back in it with a big win at home?

The Cowboys were knotted in quite a battle with the Giants on Sunday. A lot of mistakes, like dropped balls, helped the Giants stay in the game. But before long, Dak Prescott started connecting with his playmakers, while the Dallas defense tightened up and started looking like they had at points in the season when they were doing well. On offense, they got a huge game from Rod Smith, while getting Sean Lee back really helped the other side of the ball. Both sides of the ball started making plays and made the final score look like it was a breeze, which it wasn't. If this Dallas team can turn the corner and make a run and then get Ezekiel Elliott back for a boost, they could be dangerous. But at just 7-6 and in playoff race that will be crowded, continuing to win is mandatory.

The Dallas offense wasn't great for most of the game on Sunday. With eight minutes left in the game, they had managed just ten points of scoring. But three touchdowns late helped them tip things in their favor. Prescott was very good on the day, throwing for 332 yards and starting to round this offense into shape in the absence of Elliott. He tossed three touchdowns and was making good use of those around him. The line looked like it had when they were at their best, protecting Prescott from the pass-rush, while springing loose a run-game. Prescott worked well with Rod Smith, who had 113 yards and a TD, along with Dez Bryant, who also had a score through the air. Jason Witten caught a TD pass, as well, with Cole Beasley adding some useful receptions along the way. Smith was big and added a TD on the ground with 47 yards rushing, with Morris going for 62 yards on the ground. We are starting to see backs make up some production with their top back missing, along with an aerial game that has shown more teeth in the last two weeks.

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The Dallas defense has been up-and-down this season, hampered by injuries and inconsistent play. Getting their leader on this side of the ball back in Sean Lee was critical, as he was big on the day with a big and made a bunch of big plays. LB Anthony Hitchens has also started to peak since returning from injury. They've given up a combined 24 points in their last two games. Jeff Heath has been active at one of the safety positions and had a pick on Sunday. They hope to get David Irving back to help the pass-rush. But there are signs that this side of the ball is also heading in the right direction. They've been erratic and have changed form on a dime this season on occasion, but there are reasons for optimism.

Granted, with wins over the Broncos and Giants, no one was signaling a Raiders' revival, but for them to come up so short against a Chiefs team that couldn't get much right lately was upsetting. The Raiders were hardly competitive, with two late scores making it look closer than it was. There was hardly a noticeable heartbeat as the Raiders fell behind, 26-0. Three turnovers didn't help, nor did the fact that the Chiefs were able to look like their old selves against this Raiders' defense. They look for better against the Cowboys this week at home.

On Sunday, the Oakland offense struggled until late in the game. The line was not great, as Derek Carr wasn't often operating in a clean pocket. And falling behind, they weren't able to rely on their run-game, though Marshawn Lynch was pretty good with 61 yards and a TD on just 7 carries and he's been heating up the last few weeks. Amari Cooper was back, but is still working his way back from injury. Through the air, Jared Cook caught a TD, with Michael Crabtree making some nice grabs on the day. But to go the first 51+ minutes of the game scoreless does not paint this offense in a good light heading down the stretch of the regular season, even if they are still technically in it, even at 6-7.

On defense, the Raiders gave up some big perfrmances on Sunday, allowing an offense that hasn't thrived recently to do so. For the first time in what like seems like forever, KC running back Kareem Hunt had a big game against this group. There were some individual plays made, with Karl Joseph having an interception, with two sacks by surging Bruce Irvin and one apiece by NaVorro Bowman and Khalil Mack. On Sunday, however, there were no timely stops and not much overall clutch play. And that's been the big difference between last season and what we see now on the field for the Raiders. Last season, the "D" would step up when needed, even if they weren't an altogether good defense. This season, they sometimes give off the impression that they're just out there taking up space.

Neither team is bankable enough to be too confident, regardless of which side you take. One could justify a stance on the Cowboys, who are still fighting for a playoff spot and appear to be playing accordingly the last few weeks. For Oakland, their one-score wins over the awful duo of the Broncos and Giants didn't appear to mean much as they were dominated by the ragged-looking Chiefs. But in this high-visibility spot at home, I expect more from the Raiders this week and maybe a little less from the Cowboys. I'm taking the home-dog.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Oakland Raiders plus 2.5 points. Did you know... that you could be wagering on the Dallas vs. Oakland game at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying -110 odds (or more) with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!

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