The Dallas Cowboys may or may not give a hoot about winning Sunday night's preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers. The NFL odds certainly aren't impressed with Big D.
Jason Garrett is a forward-thinking guy. He's not out there at training camp busting everyone's hump, running people through the wringer, or any other drill-sergeant metaphor you care to think of. Garrett wants his players ready for the regular season, not for Sunday's preseason game (8:00 p.m. ET) against the San Francisco 49ers.
This might be one of the few times you'll want to bet on the Niners all year. Garrett has a 5-12 ATS record in exhibition games, after last week's eminently predictable 17-7 loss to the San Diego Chargers (–4 at home). As we go to press, the Cowboys are line dancing between +3 and +3.5 on Sunday's NFL odds board. If you think that looks tempting, you're not alone; our early consensus reports show nearly two-thirds of bettors on San Fran.
These are the Niners we're talking about, mind you. Their summer just keeps getting worse and worse, and judging by last week's 23-10 loss to the Houston Texans (–3 at home), depth is going to be an issue all season long. Their starting unit isn't looking too good, either. This could be the end of Colin Kaepernick as we know him; he was below league average as a passer last year (–8.4 percent DVOA, No. 29 overall), and Kaepernick will have even less talent around him this year.
Things are so desperate that the 49ers have traded a perfectly warm body, TE Asante Cleveland, to the New England Patriots for OL Jordan Devey. Cleveland was one of several tight ends on the roster, and the Niners are very thin on the offensive line, but Devey was awful in his four starts with New England last season. At least he might be useful for our NFL picks this Sunday playing against second- and third-string Dallas defenders.
If San Francisco's franchise meltdown has you feeling a bit queasy, we have an alternative solution: Bet the UNDER instead. That was the right NFL pick against the total in last week's Cowboys-Chargers game, lifting the UNDER to 10-5-2 in preseason play since Garrett took the coaching reins in 2010. It was also the right pick in Jim Tomsula's first “game” with the Niners.
Dallas has enough injuries on offense right now to make the UNDER even juicier. Center Travis Frederick is reportedly the only lineman operating at 100 percent. WR Dez Bryant won't be playing Sunday after straining a hamstring in practice earlier this month. RB Gus Johnson was thought to have separated his shoulder, but later reports had him suffering a less serious injury. Given the relative lack of offensive talent on both teams in this situation, we'll recommend the UNDER for Sunday's football picks, rather than the Niners against the spread. Let's revisit that pick later this week.
Free NFL Pick: Take UNDER 40.5 (–106) at Pinnacle