NFL against the spread picks: Can we really take the Cooper Rush-led Cowboys?

We found out what Dak Prescott’s mean to point spread is.

Last week, the lookahead line for the Cincinnati Bengals at the Dallas Cowboys in Week 2 was the Cowboys -2.5. Prescott went down with a thumb injury, and the line shifted massively. The Cowboys are now a 7.5-point underdog at BetMGM.

There’s more to that 10-point shift than going from Prescott to Cooper Rush. The Cowboys took on other injuries. Dallas looked downright sad to lose to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and that was before Prescott’s injury.

Still, 10 points is a lot. One in particular is facing their defeat in Week 1 against a Bengals team.

Rush doesn’t have the pedigree that should excite anyone—he wasn’t kicked out of Central Michigan in 2017—but we’ve seen him start once and it was great. He had a last-minute start in Sunday night’s game against the Minnesota Vikings last season and threw 325 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in a surprise 20-16 win. It’s hard to extract much from a one-game sample, but at least this one was good.

The formula for the Cowboys in the next few weeks without Prescott is clear. They want to rely on their running back and defend well. Having multiple offensive line injuries makes the former a daunting challenge, but the latter should work. Dallas’ defense should be good this season. They can hopefully keep the game close and the offense might steal some.

Either way, 10 points seems like an overreaction, and there are no major overreactions weeks in the game after the NFL openers. After what we saw last week, it’s not fun taking the Cowboys in QB with Rush. But taking a team no one else will touch can be profitable in the NFL. Let’s choose cowboys and points. Sometimes, winning tickets can come from the ugliest teams.

Cooper Rush would start for the Dallas Cowboys in place of the injured Dak Prescott. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

Here are the rest of the Against-the-Spread picks along with BetMGM’s spreads for the second week of the NFL season:

Chargers on Heads (+4)

As I said in today’s Daily Sweat, if the Chargers are going to be a thing this season, it’s a game they keep close. or win.

Ravens Over Dolphins (-3.5)

Is it possible that we get too excited about dolphins after a game? Bill Belichick drew some criticism for saying, “It was a really beautiful game too. Two big plays, 14 points really spoiled the game,” but he was not wrong. Miami led New England 307-271, from 18 first downs to 17 for New England, averaging 5.2 yards per game for the Patriots by 5.0… Miami won, but it didn’t blow New England away. A scoop-and-score on a fumble and an unforgivable breakdown by New England was responsible for the gap to allow Jaylen Waddle a 47-yard touchdown at the end of the half. Baltimore was solid in Week 1, but it’s hard to tell against the Jets. I loved the Ravens in preseason and would ride with them.

Brown over the Jets (-6)

It’s not that the Browns are so exciting and I’m not sure I trust their offense that much, but the Jets looked miserable last week.

Lion over Commanders (-1.5)

The Lions have been liked for the first time since November of 2020, snapping a 24-game streak as an underdog, which ESPN said is the longest of the Super Bowl era. Congratulations to Detroit. If the Lions don’t win it, all this pre-season excitement will sound silly enough, right?

Colts. Above Jaguar (+4)

Not a comfortable pick. I’d like to believe Jaguar turning a corner, but week 1 was a step back. I’m starting to worry a lot about Trevor Lawrence. But it’s still a proper domestic underdog, so let’s go with it.

Saints over the Buccaneers (+2.5)

All the attention was on the Cowboys on Sunday night, but it wasn’t a great night for the Books. He suffered two major injuries when receiver Chris Godwin and left tackle Donovan Smith left the game. We’ll see if they play this week or how effective they are. The Bux’s defense against Dallas was good but the offense had its issues. And the Saints defense has done very well against Tampa Bay since Tom Brady came to Florida. I’ll have +3 or better, but I’ll still take the Saints.

Panthers over Giants (+2)

This is a game on the board that I would skip, but since I pick every game every week, let’s flip a coin here. The Giants had a good win last week and Saxon Barkley was reborn, but it’s still a team I’m not sold on for the season. The Panthers are a team that I liked a little bit coming into the season, so let’s go with more points from them.

Patriots on Steelers (-2)

Does it concern me that the Steelers were plus-five in the turnover difference and needed an extra extra point and missed a 29-yard field goal when the Bengals had an emergency long snapper to win? Absolutely. And TJ Watt’s injury is one of the rare non-QB injuries that should turn the line. Mack Jones should be good to go after some back cramps. Maybe I’m being stubborn on the Patriots, but I think they absolutely can win the ugly game.

Falcon over Ramsay (+10.5)

The Falcons haven’t looked that bad, dating back to Precision (whatever Precision means). They probably should have beaten the saints. The Rams are clearly still good, although the injuries to the offensive line do worry me a bit. With every double-digit NFL spread I start by making a case for the underdog, and I’ll stick with it.

Seahawks (+9.5) over 49

For the weird Geno Smith frenzy we saw in the first half on Monday night. Geno was Geno in the second half. But it wasn’t a bad night for the Seahawks. We have one worse loss in Chicago from the 49ers so far. And while I was a big supporter of Trey Lance this season, there’s a scenario in which San Francisco is in utter freak mode over its new quarterback as of Sunday night. And that’s a higher percentage than I’d like to admit.

Texans over Broncos (+10)

Houston can be a team that covers a lot of spreads. The Texans looked great for three quarters last week. There’s some concern about their fading in the fourth quarter, especially given Denver’s famed dominance in thin air at home during September, but I’ll still take Texans to cover.

Raiders on Cardinals (-5.5)

Yes, maybe I’m exaggerating when the Cardinals lost. It’s just one game against a good Chiefs team. But it was really bad. One thing I didn’t like in week 1 from Arizona. Meanwhile, the Raiders can be very good. They lost to the Chargers, but we will find that there is no shame in that.

Bears over Packers (-10)

I can’t bring myself to pick up the bears until they play in another monsoon. Green Bay will bounce back after the loss of Week 1. Their defense will be visible and they will run the ball right.

Bills Over Titans (+10)

This is an overreaction line. Bill looked great. The Titans lost to the Giants at home. I picked the Bills to win the Super Bowl and not the Titans to make the playoffs, so I get why people would be betting on the Bills. But we must not forget that the Titans beat the Bills last season. I don’t think they are bottom feeders. Each spread for them will be extended to the rest of the season if the Bills easily cover it.

Eagles over Vikings (-2)

There is also a lot of overreaction involved in this game. The Vikings were looking good beating the Packers, but that was a pretty good spot for them in Week 1. The Eagles also looked good for most of their win over the Lions, but they allowed too late and the final score made it through. The game seemed to be closer than it ever was. If the Vikings win in the second Monday night game of Week 2, they are a serious contender in NFC. I’m not going that far right now.

Last week, 7-9

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