Point/Counterpoint: Back Titans or Cowboys on MNF?

titans cowboys

SBR Picks Staff

Thursday, November 1, 2018 12:33 PM UTC

Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018 12:33 PM UTC

Enough messing around. Swinging Johnson and Doug Upstone have decided to take off the gloves and go bare knuckles for Monday night's Tennessee-Dallas contest. Who will be correct?

Tennessee (3-4 SU, 4-3 ATS) at Dallas (3-4 SU, 3-4 ATS)Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET (ESPN)SJ's Free NFL Pick: Cowboys ATSDoug's Free NFL Pick: Titans ATSBest Lines Offered: Bookmaker

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After talking, well, mostly arguing, Doug Upstone and Swinging Johnson decided to go at it starting this week for "Monday Night Football." We are 4-4 with our NFL picks on the last game of the week in the NFL -- each handicapper always taking opposite sides on the spread.

Tennessee (3-4, 4-3 ATS) limps into Jerry's World off a bye and on a three-game losing streak. The Titans have played excellent defense all year and are third in the league in points allowed at 18.1. The problem for Tennessee is offense and the lack of it. The Titans average a mere 15.1 (30th) PPG and do not move the chains either, ranked 30th in total offense. Marcus Mariota receives the lion's share of the blame and it is mostly deserved, but the swinging door of head coaches and different offensive systems have not helped.

Dallas (3-4, 3-4 ATS) is also off a bye and they have alternated losses and wins since Week 1. Seeing this is an even week, Swinging Johnson is likely optimistic about the Cowboys' chances to win. The Dallas situation is similar to Tennessee's; they keep the opposing teams from scoring much at all 17.6 PPG (2nd), but finding the end zone is problematic at 20 PPG.

The NFL odds opened with Dallas as a 5-point favorite and they shot up to -6.5. What side should you be on? Keep reading.

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Doug Upstone: Hey, Swinging Johnson, How 'bout them Cowboys! Seriously, you really do think they can cover that big a number?

Swinging Johnson: Not only will they cover it but they're going to allow those of us in the know to sit back, crack open a cold one and never sweat the game. Yes, Doug, it will be that easy. So why don't you educate me and the great unwashed masses who follow my every word as to why the Titans are the play.

DU: SJ, it's really quite simple. As noted in the game write-up, these teams are a lot alike. Both have crummy offenses, with about as much big-play potential as "Creed II" has at being a good movie. Defensively, both keep their opponents out of the end zone, which with these offenses will not be that difficult. Standard handicapping -- two rats in a hat -- take the points.

DU: You don't need me to slow that down and say it again, right?

SJ: Blah, blah, blah. ...Yours are the pedantic ramblings of a handicapper desperate to prove he knows just a teensy-weensy bit more than everyone else. Well, Doug, I’m here to tell you that just because cappers like you tend to trot out stats like Dallas allows 17.6 PPG and the Titans 18.1 PPG coupled with the Cowboys’ offense averaging 20 PPG while Tennessee averages 15.1 on offense, and when you put all those stats in a blender the number is less than the +6.5, then the Titans are your choice, and your elementary math has not failed you. You see, Doug, I see the entire, glorious panacea while you, good sir, see only the discarded placenta of formulas that don’t apply and logic that is outdated. There's a bigger picture at work and it ain't Creed Deux.

DU: Do tell, Apollo ...

SJ: OK, take my hand and allow me to educate you. I heard you mention in one of your forum chats that Dallas has a lousy home record. Well, if you peel back the onion you'll find Dallas is 5-5 ATS over the last three seasons when favored by 3.5 to 7 points at home. Meh, so if you backed the Boyz in those games you’d lose the juice. No biggie. In Weeks 5-9 over the last three seasons, Dallas is 8-2 ATS and that’s going to improve because Tennessee has a middling at best run-stop unit, they are 19th in the league and allow an average of 112 yards per game. If they key on Ezekiel Elliot then no probs anymore because the Boyz got themselves an outside threat during the bye week named Amari Cooper. Just having him on the outside will force the Titans to account for him, which gives Zeke more room to roam and Dak Prescott as well.

So with that, the Cowboys improved with Cooper and they just fired the old offensive line coach and brought in a new one. That should, on some level, wake up Prescott’s protectors, who were heralded as the best unit in football before this season. And do you believe that Mariota is going to suddenly get wonderful against a defense that is not unlike Baltimore’s? Oh, and speaking of which, the Titans were blanked 21-0 in that game just a few weeks ago and Mariota was sacked 11 times – at home no less! No, this game is gonna be a slow grind and Dallas will win somewhere in the vicinity of 27-6.

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Jason Garrett Halloween costume >>> pic.twitter.com/CTIPx1NJWS

— NFL Memes (@NFL_Memes) October 31, 2018
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DU: Wow, I just learned something SJ, you must spend a lot of your nights playing fantasy games on your phone. Because this thinking is delusional! Firing an offensive line coach is an act of desperation because Jerry Jones has no idea how to build a winning football team. Somebody had to take the fall. The fact is the Cowboys' O-line is a shell of its former self. Clearly, you must be spending your time looking at autumn leaves on Sundays because if memory serves, Cooper led the NFL in drops last year or was near the top. Just the fact that he's considered an upgrade tells you about the sad state of Dallas receivers. As far as the Cowboys being 15-31 ATS as home favorites, if you want to take short windows of time versus long-term results, have at it. Dallas is a known quantity in the role, and I'm all over it.

To your last point, I agree, Mariota is very close to bust material. But with two weeks and him as healthy as he's been all year, I see Tennessee rolling him out more, getting rid of the ball fast in quick-action passes. Trust me when I say I'm not even sure the Titans will win but this smells of a last-minute field goal for the winner.

SJ: Quick question: Do you watch sitcoms, Doug? I mean, other than your own podcasts?

DU: No, wish I had the time. I'm too busy figuring out winners I can cash. You? You seem like the "This Is Us" type.

SJ: OK, well, the thing I hate most about sitcoms is the laugh track because it implies the viewing public is not smart enough to know what’s funny. They need to be cued. You’re my laugh track, Doug. And as far as short windows versus long windows, I’m not sure how the Troy Aikman-to-Michael Irvin connection figures into this one but I’ll let you handle that. Cowboys roll, baby, so don’t bet the rent on the Titans - but if you do, I’ve got a couch.

DU: Like usual, we agree to disagree. You will give the points and I'll take them. Fair enough. SJ, I would say Good Luck, but I really don't mean it. Until next time, PAL!!

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