For the first time in almost four years, the Dallas Cowboys (7-1; 1st in NFC East) will meet the Pittsburgh Steelers (4-4; 2nd in AFC North) for a showdown of two the most successful franchises in NFL history (4.25pm ET Sunday on Fox).
Here we give our preview for this game, culminating with our betting predictions and advised picks.
There is a lot of history associated with this rivalry and most of it revolves around winning. Together, the two teams have won 16 conference championships, eight apiece. They have won 11 Super Bowls, six by the Steelers and five by the Cowboys. They have met in three of these championship games, with Pittsburgh holding a 2-1 lead. In their 31 meetings overall, Dallas has the slightest 16-15 edge.
While not traditional rivals in the sense that the two teams only meet about once every four years these days, the Cowboys and Steelers were to football in the ‘70s what the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtic were to basketball a decade prior. Each team has a bigger rival in their respective divisions but when the calendar turns to this game, it certainly brings with it a lot of history and competition. Given these teams won every Super Bowl but two over a 10-year span, one wouldn’t expect anything less from this head to head contest.
Since the 1990s, the rivalry, once dominated by the success of the Steelers, has swung in Dallas’ favor as the Cowboys have won six of their last seven matchups. That includes the most important one during that timeframe, Super Bowl XXX, and the most recent in 2012, won by Dallas in a 27-24 margin in overtime.
Despite being one of the best teams in the NFL this year, the Cowboys, who are in their best position to win the championship since Super Bowl XXX, find themselves as -1.5 to -2.5 point road underdogs with the top United States friendly sportsbooks in this latest meeting. The total points for the game is set at around 50 by those offshore bookmakers.
Bragging rights and the playoffs are on the line. Pittsburgh will need a win to keep pace with the Baltimore Ravens, who have just a one game edge in the AFC North. The Cowboys are focused on maintaining their lead not only in the NFC East but the conference as they look to lock up home field advantage throughout the postseason. As always though when these two teams meet, it could go either way.
(PIT) Ben Roethlisberger vs (DAL) Dak Prescott
The Cowboys and Steelers have certainly taken different roads to where they are today. One thing the teams have in common is in the form of their three-pronged offensive attack, which starts at the top with the quarterback. In this case, that is the veteran and playoff proven Roethlisberger and the rookie standout Dak Prescott (pictured).
Both are having successful years, with 29 touchdowns and just nine interceptions between them. When it comes to overall rating, Prescott is the better of the two and has the fourth best mark in the NFL. Roethlisberger holds the edge in passing yards per game, ranked 10th in the league.
Part of the success of these two quarterbacks has to be attributed to their offensive lines, which have allowed Roethlisberger and Prescott to be sacked just a combined 24 times over what amounts to 16 games. That is impressive and has opened the opportunity to both signal callers to throw downfield where another huge part of their success lies, in the form of the weapons.
(PIT) Antonio Brown vs (DAL) Dez Bryant
Technically, this should be a discussion of Brown vs. Dallas’ defense and Bryant vs. Pittsburgh’s defense. Since we are comparing the best at each position, it only felt right to talk about two of the best receivers in the league and the value added they provide to their quarterbacks.
Over the past few years, no tandem has worked more than Roethlisberger and Brown and none have been as successful. The pair have combined for 37 touchdowns over the past four seasons, more than any other QB/WR combo in the league. If we were to just look at 2012-2014 however, that three year span saw Bryant and Tony Romo as the best duo, combining for 31 touchdowns over 48 games.
Another comparison between these two players comes in the fact that both are lifers, having spent their entire careers with their teams, and both came into the league in 2010. Bryant was drafted 24th overall while Brown was better value, taken at 195th.
Both have been cornerstones of their team’s offenses since then and both have been consistently two of the best at their position in the NFL. This year, Brown is top six in four crucial categories, 4th in receptions (55), sixth in yards (677) and yards per game (84.6) and third in touchdowns (6). Bryant hasn’t had the same success due to missing time but he is healthy now and working each week to get in sync with his new QB.
For familiarity’s sake, the edge in this matchup goes to Roethlisberger and Brown.
(PIT) Le’Veon Bell vs (DAL) Ezekiel Elliot
Finishing up our three-pronged offensive attack would be the running backs, of which once again, Pittsburgh and Dallas have two of the best in the form of the proven Bell and rookie of the year favorite Elliot.
Despite a suspension to open the year, Bell has seemingly not missed a beat, picking up right where he left off last year when he was one of the top three backs in the league. Elliot too has run with incredible success and with 891 yards and seven touchdowns, leads the league for all running backs. Additionally, Elliot is on pace to surpass Eric Dickerson’s rookie mark of 1,808 yards.
Our Preview’s Dallas Cowboys at Pittsburgh Steelers Betting Predictions & Picks
These two teams are incredible offensive juggernauts thanks to six of the best players in the league. As I said earlier in this preview, it could be anybody’s game as far as the betting predictions and picks are concerned. But I do think there are bets to be had here.
Dallas has been the better team but the road is always a tough place to play, especially when it’s Heinz Field, where Roethlisberger has led the offense to average almost 33 points per game this year with 12 touchdowns and just two interceptions.
- That being said, I’m giving the edge to Pittsburgh in this one. Take the Steelers -1.5pts @ -110 with Bovada Sportsbook to cover the spread, as they inflict just a second loss of the season on Dallas. It is -2.5pts @ -110 with Bookmaker Sportsbook and -115 with BetOnline and 5Dimes.
- Take the over on 49pts for the total scored in the game @ -110 with BetOnline. The over/under mark is 49.5pts with Bookmaker and 50pts with Bovada and 5Dimes.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & 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.