NFL Picks: Cowboys vs. Raiders in Preseason Week 1

Nila Amerova

Friday, August 9, 2013 4:46 PM GMT

The Dallas Cowboys gallop into Oakland as the hot favourites over the Raiders in NFL preseason betting markets. Join us as we breakdown this matchup and determine whether the Cowboys are indeed the correct choice for your NFL picks.

Dallas Cowboys win Hall of Fame game over Miami Dolphins

The Dallas Cowboys are flush off a close 24-20 victory over the Miami Dolphins in the Hall of Fame game, the curtain-raiser on the NFL’s preseason.

A match that began and continued almost entirely on a dominant note for the Cowboys very nearly ended in disappointment when the Dolphins – leaving it a bit too late – put forward a heroic comeback and reeled off 17 points in the fourth quarter to come within four before time ran out on them. Although the Cowboys never relinquished the lead in the game, the Dolphins had them a tad rattled towards the end and, perhaps even, exposed some of the shortcomings on defense that they are plagued with yet. Still, when the celebrations came it was smiles across the bench.

Faced with an injury struck squad already, Coach Jason Garrett had to make some adjustments. He lost Tyrone Crawford for the entire season (torn Achilles) in training camp; and he’s without Anthony Spencer for the foreseeable (knee) and Tony Romo who was recovering from a back surgery (removal of a cyst) and sat out the entire proceedings.

With no other option left, he turned to his young crop of players and employed the ground game without one of the league’s top running backs DeMarco Murray but rather Phillip Tanner, who got the call to duty and tallied 59 yards and a touchdown. All paid off. Phew!

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Dallas at Oakland Preview

Despite the smiles and celebrations of the weekend, what can we really take away from that match that holds merit for this upcoming clash against the Raiders? Does the home side have a stake in the outcome despite the NFL odds?

Well, the first thing is that participating in the Hall of Fame game gives Dallas (and Miami) one additional preseason game over the rest of the field with which to practice and tweak lines, formations, strategies and so on. For the players specifically, it’s a first taste of action, an opportunity to settle down those jittery nerves and the pent-up excitement and anticipation that builds up during the offseason and which by preseason is bursting at the seams.

All that sums up into an important silver lining as well: they go into this game as the favourites at -130 at Bet365. This despite being on the road. In so-called hostile territory.

On the flipside, we have yet to see what this season’s Oakland Raiders are made of and we’re most likely only going to get a Hollywood-style trailer in this first preseason adventure as the regulars usually get limited play but when bookies tip them as the nominal underdogs at +110 to win outright, they aren’t exactly writing them off as no-hopers are they?

What we do know about the Raiders is that they are in the rebuilding phase, a transitional period where youth is being ushered in to replace some of the old and seasoned veterans. For that reason, online sportsbooks have them down as one of the biggest underdogs in the NFL season proper and in every aspect of the game just about. Yet this isn’t the regular season is it now. So all bets are off here for now.

Experts are quietly optimistic about the Raiders in that they expect them to be more competitive than they were last year when they were 4-12 SU and 5-11 ATS. It’s a huge leap to expect them to scale NFL heights in their next season but with all the rebuilding and revamping in the offseason they look to be headed in the right direction and will most likely reap the rewards in a couple of years.

They’ve mainly worked to retool their defense bringing in almost nine or so new starters, Charles Woodson and draft pick D.J. Hayden, to name a few were brought. On offense, Matt Flynn has been acquired but with just 141 passes in his NFL career it’s hard to determine how much of an impact he’ll have. Darren McFadden was born to be a running back star but he’s ongoing struggles with health have held him back too often at the blocks.

[gameodds]16/227790/?r3=43-999997-349/dec&r-1=43-999997-349/us[/gameodds]

NFL Betting Verdict: Dallas is coming off a win and that makes them the tempting NFL pick here but were they really so convincing? Dropping 17 points in the fourth quarter can’t be hailed a defensive success and that opens the door for a relatively made over Raiders to capitalize on and that’s why we’re going against the grain and plumping down to Raiders +110 odds to win outright. Why not? It’s the preseason after all: a time when players attempt to seal starting jobs and impress coaches and when anything can happen, even an upset of sorts.