Dallas Cowboys @ Miami Dolphins – Football & Racing News – Star Sports

Two ten-win teams who look to be comfortably heading towards the playoffs but also two ten-win teams who have a poor record against teams that are above .500.

Miami have played just three games against teams that currently have a winning record, 29th in the league, they are 0-3 in those games.

The Cowboys are 0-3 as an underdog (they are +2.5 here) this season, being outscored by 19.3 points per game in those weeks.

A game where both teams will be trying to silence their critics especially it would seem Dallas who got badly beaten up on the road last week at another AFC foe the resurgent Bills by a 31-10 scoreline in a game where if it was a boxing match the referee may well have stopped the fight. The Dolphins had a much easier time last week shutting out the Jets in a 30-0 beatdown. Of late the Cowboys have held the whip hand in this particular contest winning six of the last seven meetings between the two franchises.

The Cowboys have lost consecutive games just once in what will be the third consecutive playoff season under coach Mike McCarthy. While Dallas have a 3-4 road record against its 7-0 home mark, one of the victories away from AT&T Stadium came at the Los Angeles Chargers (20-17) the week after the Cowboys were blown out in San Francisco (42-10).

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This is a matchup of the two highest-scoring offences in the NFL so it’s hardly surprising that in the Star Sports Specials Market “Highest Scoring Game On Sunday” that his contest is the 23-10 favourite. It’s hard to disagree with two such high-powered offences on the field but the

Minnesota/Detroit games at 4-1 and the Tampa Bay/Jacksonville game at 8-1 make a little more appeal at the prices, both have plenty of scoring potential.

The one element of the game that the Cowboys must get right this time is getting off to a decent start on each occasion they have started poorly against a good team, and the Dolphins are, then Dallas has been well and truly beaten up, the games against the 49ers and the Bills showing that to be true.

The home/road splits are stark for Dallas. The Cowboys essentially have the best offence in the NFL at home. On the road, it’s middle of the pack or worse. They were certainly given a dose of reality by the Bills last week when they were dominated in the trenches on both sides of the ball. The Bills were able to put pressure on QB Dak Prescott who was sacked three times and hit on another seven occasions and it was no surprise that Prescott returned his worst performance of the season. Dallas ran the ball efficiently while averaging 4.5 yards per carry, but the Cowboys were unable to stick with the run as they fell behind early as they were pummelled by Buffalo’s rushing attack.

Statistically they face another defence this week that has looked strong but the quality of the offences that the Dolphins “D” has faced since their Week 10 bye can be questioned – the Jets (twice), Commanders, Titans, and Raiders, none of which could be called anything remotely like an elite offence. When facing elite offences of the ilk of Buffalo, Kansas City, and Philadelphia, that trio combined to average 33 points per game against them.

The Cowboys on offence were passive last week against the Bills and they can’t afford to repeat that performance. Sunday ended up being the same story for Prescott and the Cowboys. When they fail, they completely flatline but they are good at bouncing back. Dallas rarely stack up bad games under head coach Mike McCarthy. The Cowboys are a league-best 12-1 ATS after a loss since 2021.

Prescott ended his career-best run of seven consecutive games with at least two touchdown passes last week and the home/road splits that I have applied to the Cowboys as a team can also be attached to their QB. He’s averaging 304 yards passing per game with 20 touchdowns, two interceptions, a 74% completion rate, and a 122.5 passer rating at AT&T Stadium. On the road, the numbers are 216 yards per game with eight touchdowns, five picks, 63% on completions and an 84.2 passer rating. In a game that has shootout potential then the fact that Prescott (5-1) and his opposite Tua Tagovailoa (6-1) are the market leaders in the Star Sports Specials Market “Most Passing Yards on Sunday” isn’t a shock but the value in this heat could lie with the Vikings Nick Mullens (15-2) who directs a pass heavy Minnesota offence against a porous Lions pass defence.

The best way for the Cowboys to approach this game would be surely to go pass heavy, attack from the off, and also get running back Tony Pollard involved in the passing game which was where he was dangerous last year. The Bills, Raiders, Titans and Eagles have all had success downfield against Miami, and Dallas will certainly take some shots as well. They certainly have a receiving corps that can take advantage of an open game especially CeeDee Lamb. WR Lamb is the first player in franchise history with multiple 100-catch seasons. He has 103 after getting 107 last season. Lamb is eight catches shy of Michael Irvin’s franchise record from 1995, the most recent of the club’s five Super Bowl-winning seasons. He has an NFL-best six-game streak with at least one touchdown after getting a rushing TD against the Bills and he’s 4-5 with Star Sports to extend that sequence.

TE Jake Ferguson has emerged as Dallas’ most reliable No. 2 pass-catching option behind Lamb. Ferguson has drawn eight targets in three straight weeks, while Miami has allowed the NFL’s 10th-most catches to tight ends (74).

It may pay to watch the what the half time score is in this game as it could have an important part to play in determining the result of the game. Miami are 10-0 in games they have led at halftime and 0-4 in games they have trailed at halftime, one of two teams with a clean split when leading or trailing at the half. Miami are 5-6 to be the winner of the first half with Star Sports and extend that 10-0 record to 11-0.

Miami QB Tua Tagovailoa is coming off his most productive game of the season by completing 87.5% of his passes against the Jets, who have one of the NFL’s stingiest secondaries. He now goes up against the Dallas secondary that are allowing 150.9 net passing yards per game on the road in 2023, second in the league. The Dolphins offence is averaging 285.1 passing yards per game at Hard Rock Stadium, the third-highest passing offense at home this season. Something may have to give here.

If the Dolphins were watching how the Bills took apart on the ground last week then it would set the template for them to use their two-headed running back monster in Raheem Mostert (who has been held out of practice this week, but apparently that isn’t injury related) and the explosive De’Von Achane. There doesn’t seem to be a great alternative for Dallas to deal with this either, as trying to load the box to deal with the run would open them up on the backside to the elite speed of wide receivers Hill and Waddle, although Hill is still dealing with an ankle injury which may limit him a little.

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Mostert has multiple touchdowns in three of his past four games, and he’s scored at least once in six of the past seven. Mostert now has 20 touchdowns this season, tied for the league lead with Christian McCaffrey. He had 19 regular-season touchdowns in his career entering this season. If for some reason Mostert wasn’t able to go on Sunday then Achane is the perfect replacement although with his explosive run style it’s hard to call him a backup. Achane has 12 touches in each of the past two games, producing 71 and 62 yards in those outings.

For all their explosiveness on offence Miami play at a methodical pace but the way they establish the game on the ground allows them to create chunk plays through the air to WR’s Tyreek Hill and Jalen Waddle. Hill is still dealing with an ankle injury and it’s unknown if he will be at full speed for this game but Waddle is more than adapt at stepping into fill the Hill role.

Last week we highlighted that Waddle could explode if Tyreek ended up missing, and that is exactly what happened. Waddle pulled in 8-of-9 targets for 142 yards and a touchdown. Hill (7-2), Waddle (7-1) and Lamb (5-1) head the Star Sports Specials Market “Most Receiving Yards on Sunday” and with the scoring potential in this game that’s not hard to see but two others that appeal more at the prices are the Vikings Justin Jefferson (15-2) and DJ Moore of the Bears at 14-1, both have plus matchups.

Both teams need to be aggressive to win this game and Dallas would have a problem if they fell behind again as we have seen what can happen to them when that scenario plays out. These big matchups have been rather damp squibs of late and it’s to be hoped that we are not heading for another one. Both sides have scoring potential and Dallas have bounced back before from bad defeats and they do encounter a defence that hasn’t been tested of late, in turn the Dolphins have enough stars to make life difficult for the Cowboys.

ANDY RICHMOND

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PROFIT/LOSS (DEC 2023): LOSS -6.69 points

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Author: Eugene Morris