Finally able to put what has been the league’s worst COVID outbreak all year behind them, the NFL is set to close out week 13 of the season in a rare Tuesday night game today (8.05 PM ET; TV: Live on Fox).
The week’s final matchup, which will clear up the schedule of games moved as a result of the virus, pits the Dallas Cowboys against the Baltimore Ravens in what on paper feels like a mismatch.
Both Dallas and Baltimore are hurting for a victory but for differing reasons. In Dallas, a win is more symbolic as for all intents and purposes, even in the woeful NFC East, the season is over for the Cowboys. In Baltimore, their season, which started out strongly, is hanging on by a thread. Winning the AFC North is not an option but the Ravens still hold onto a slim chance of grabbing the final wildcard spot in the conference. A loss today, which would mark the fourth in a row for the Ravens, would be detrimental to the team’s shrinking postseason hopes. How will this NFL game unfold? Hopefully this USAbetting preview and Dallas Cowboys vs Baltimore Ravens predictions will answer that.
Back in Black…and Purple
The good news for Baltimore is they should have the bulk of their starting lineup back in action this week after having to suit up newly 20 backups last week against the rival Pittsburgh Steelers in a game that was played on Wednesday night. The Ravens were victim to one of pro sports’ largest COVID outbreaks as according to reports as many as four different strains of the virus were found within the team’s locker room. That means that there were multiple avenues through which COVID made its way to Baltimore, all of which the league is investigating. Fortunately, the outbreak was largely contained to just Baltimore but the impacts were far-reaching. All of that is in the past however as the Ravens are ready to turn the corner and finish the season out strong.
It’s important to note that in getting back their playmakers, the Ravens are also going to get back Lamar Jackson. As of last week, Jackson’s return was not confirmed with some sources reporting the team would need to start third string quarterback Trace McSorley instead. McSorley stepped in to finish the Steelers game after backup Robert Griffin III got injured. Griffin is second on the depth chart for Baltimore so it was certainly an ‘all hands on deck’ situation. Had McSorley been slated to start tonight, it would have marked the first start of the young QB’s career. It also would have perhaps been the first game all season where Dallas would have fielded the better QB as Andy Dalton, their backup, has failed to deliver in his starts this year.
It’s been a less than stellar year for the Ravens’ starter Jackson, who lit the league on fire last year with his incredible ability to make magic happen. The former MVP has struggled this year though and it is no surprise the team’s record has reflected those struggles.
That said, Jackson is still an upgrade over McSorley and the team is no doubt excited to have him back under center. Jackson gives the Ravens the best chance to win and as stated above, this game really is must win and make-or-break for Baltimore’s playoff hopes. One just needs to hope that the Ravens’ returning players, as they leave COVID protocol, don’t suffer any lingering symptoms from the virus as has been known to happen. It will be something to watch for today.
Drama in Big D
When the season began, optimism was high in Dallas as the Cowboys were projected to win the NFC East. Then the sky fell and one by one, the Cowboys suffered heart-breaking loss after loss including that of their starting quarterback, Dak Prescott. That has put the ball in Dalton’s hands, who newly signed with the Cowboys in the offseason after having been the starter for the Cincinnati Bengals. With the Bengals, Dalton is no stranger to having faced the Ravens. In fact, while with the Bengals, some of Dalton’s biggest successes came against that particular division rival. In his career, he is 8-8 against Baltimore with 21 touchdowns and just eight interceptions.
Dalton’s familiarity with the Ravens only goes so far however. Sure, the head coach is the same but much of those Ravens/Bengals meetings were between Dalton and Joe Flacco, whose skillset is very different from what Jackson brings to the table. The defense Dalton will face is also different, even if their strategy remains the same. So while this matchup may provide Dalton with his best chance this year to get a win, the Ravens certainly won’t make it easy. Dallas’ defense, which is one of the worst in NFL history this year, won’t help matters. Dalton will have to outscore and outhustle Jackson if the Cowboys hope to win and that’s a prospect the sportsbooks do not favor happening.
Dalton aside, there are much bigger problems for the Cowboys than their backup quarterback. Dalton isn’t the permanent solution at the position but someone like Ezekiel Elliott, who just signed a huge extension, is. This year, the running back has had an awful time and is on pace to post the lowest totals of his career. Another person who was meant to be part of the Cowboys success is head coach Mike McCarthy. He parted ways after a long and successful tenure with the Green Bay Packers but some suggest his time in Dallas will be much shorter. It is unlikely the Cowboys will can McCarthy after just one year but it’s not out of the question. Dallas is in limbo right now, regardless of what happens over their next four games.
Our Betting Preview’s Dallas Cowboys vs Baltimore Ravens Predictions & Picks Verdict
With the Cowboys likely already eyeing a high draft pick, it is clear this game’s outcome is much more pivotal to Baltimore. They need to stop their losing skid before it’s too late if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive.
The matchup favors the Ravens in a big way but football games aren’t played on paper. As the Ravens’ division rival, the Steelers, learned on Monday night when the Washington Football Team handed them their first loss of the season, anything can happen on any given Sunday or in this case, Tuesday. Our Cowboys vs Ravens predictions and betting picks look like this:
- Take the Ravens -7pts on the spread @ -120 with Bookmaker. It is a tempting -7.5pts @ -105 with Intertops (-110 BetOnline), while Bovada are -8pts @ -110.
- Look for the under on 45.5 total points @ -110 with Bovada, Intertops or BetOnline as week 13 of the NFL season comes to a close.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.