Thursday Night Football Betting: Will Dallas Cover as Road Favorites Against New Orleans?

The Dallas Cowboys may be on the road tonight, but they have swelled to 6.5-point favorites over the New Orleans Saints, per NFL odds. The total is set at 45.5 points.

Our nERD-based rankings have this potentially as a lopsided affair -- the 'Boys are ranked 4th, while the home Saints check in 10th.

Let's dive into some interesting betting angles for this contest.

How Have These Teams Fared?

The Saints have moved on from Trevor Siemian and are turning to Taysom Hill under center.

The move away from Siemian shouldn't come as a surprise. Siemian's mark of 0.03 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back is pretty bad. There's limited data on Hill this year, but we should be encouraged by his work a season ago. He passed for nearly 1,000 yards on 121 drop backs, logging a solid clip of 0.10 Passing NEP per drop back, and we know he can make an impact as a runner.

On the other side of the field, Dak Prescott is playing at an absurdly efficient rate. This season Prescott has passed his way to 0.19 Passing NEP per drop back, and he's done that with the aid of an offensive line that's allowed him to hit the turf only 10 times.

In the running game, Ezekiel Elliott is nearing 1,000 rushing yards this season, but he hasn't been at his best at -0.03 Rushing NEP per rush. It would behoove the Cowboys to utilize Tony Pollard a bit more, as he's been far more effective with a rate of 0.08 Rushing NEP per carry this season on 101 attempts.

The Saints were hoping to get Alvin Kamara back for this game, but he will miss another contest. That means veteran Mark Ingram will be the primary ball carrier. Ingram has been getting heavy volume in the games he's played sans Kamara.

These two teams are very strong defensively. By our metrics, the Saints have a slight edge, ranking fifth in overall D while Dallas sits sixth. The Saints will definitely need their defensive unit to step up if they are to pull the upset.

Bets to Consider

With the Cowboys a 6.5-point favorite and the total at 45.5 points, where should you have your money for this one, according to our numbers?

We are projecting the Cowboys to escape with a narrow road victory, pulling it out by a score of 24.95-23.54. With the line rising to 6.5 points in Dallas' favor, we have the Saints to cover marked as a very strong bet -- something we project to hit 66.9% of the time.

One player prop our projections don't necessarily love but I do is Taysom Hill's rushing yards. We project him for 31.0 yards, and his prop on FanDuel Sportsbook is at 40.5. But Hill averaged 52.2 rushing yards per game in four starts a year ago. I'm bullish on his chances to get to the over.

Historical Betting Trends

-- Dallas has struggled against the spread (ATS) lately, going 1-3 ATS in their last four.
-- Not to be outdone, the Saints are also 1-3 ATS over their previous four outings.
--However, New Orleans is 8-2-1 ATS as an underdog in their last 11 such contests.