Week 17 brings the Dallas Cowboys to the home of the Tennessee Titans on Thursday Night Football. The Cowboys are riding a small boost of confidence as they just beat the Philadelphia Eagles and still have something to play for in this game as they try to catch their rivals in the NFC East. The Titans are losers of five straight games and have nothing to gain from this game, they are headed for a winner-take-all AFC South showdown with the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 18.
As such, the Titans are resting some players that maybe could have played, and that will likely include their centerpieces on offense, Derrick Henry. He hasn’t been ruled out yet, but he is doubtful. Given these circumstances, the Cowboys are heavy 12-point favorites according to DraftKings Sports book.
These two franchises have met 15 times in their history, going back to the days when they were in-state rivals. Formerly the Houston Oilers, the Titans have seven wins against Dallas, while the Cowboys have come out on top eight times. The Titans won the last meeting in 2018, 28-14. The teams have split the last four games in the series,
While the Cowboys defense hasn’t been playing to their elite level recently, one area where they are killing it is in turnovers. The team is now tops in turnover margin with a +12, even with Dak Prescott's recent surge in interceptions.
Dallas leads in takeaways with 30 this year. Last year they led the NFL with 34. If they lead the league again this year, they will be the first team to do that since the Pittsburgh Steelers did it back in the early 70s.
Cornerback DaRon Bland has been a contributor to that stat with his five interceptions this year. That is tied for second in the league. If Bland can get six, he would be the first Cowboys rookie to reach that mark since the incredible 1981 year when Michael Downs had seven and Everson Walls had 11.
Another secret to the Cowboys success this year has been placekicker Brett Maher. He is 9 for 11 on kicks over 50 yards this year. If he kicks another 50 yarder this season, he will tie the all-time record for most 50+ yard field goals in a season at ten.
The Cowboys will be looking to prolong the streak of Ezekiel Elliott. Zeke has scored a rushing touchdown in eight straight games coming into the contest. That is the longest active streak in the NFL, and the longest for a Cowboy since Emmitt Smith did it in 11 straight games in 1995.
Dak Prescott gets a lot of flak for his interceptions, and even he knows he needs to cut those down, but otherwise he has this offense humming. Since his return in Week 7, the Cowboys lead the NFL in points per game by the offense at an astounding 34.6. The next closest team in that same stretch is Philadelphia at 30.8.
A new Cowboys player has a long history versus the Titans. Former Indianapolis Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton played in the AFC South for years. In 10 seasons with the Colts, he had 71 catches for 1,078 yards and six touchdowns against the Titans. That is a 15.2 yard per catch average for 18 games.
The Titans are near the bottom in many offensive categories except rushing, and that might not even help them this week if Derrick Henry is out. They are 27th in scoring (17.9 per game), 30th in total offense (294.4 yards per game), 30th in passing offense (168.6 per game, and much of that came with Ryan Tannehill playing. He will be out with injury, replaced by Josh Dobbs.
By most measures this seems like an uneven matchup, but that has been said before with the Cowboys. See the Houston Texans game. That one went down to the wire. The Cowboys will hope to avoid that this week.