Las Vegas Raiders (5-5, 4-6 ATS) at Dallas Cowboys (7-3, 8-2), 4:30 p.m., Thanksgiving Day
Brolley’s Raiders Stats and Trends
The Raiders have hit their annual wall with three straight outright and ATS losses.
Las Vegas’ average cover margin sits at an ugly -17.0 points over the last three games.
Las Vegas is 2-6 ATS in its last eight games
The Raiders are 2-5 ATS in their last seven road contests.
Derek Carr has fallen short of 20+ FP in three straight games after hitting the mark in five of his first seven games.The Raiders are averaging just 14.3 points per game in the last three weeks and they haven’t topped 16 points in a single game in that span, which coincides with the loss of their top vertical threat out of their bye week. The Cowboys have held five of the last six QBs they’ve faced to fewer than 17 FP.
Darren Waller still has failed to find the end zone since Week 4 and he has just two scores overall, but he’s coming off his best performance since the season opener with 7/116 receiving on eight targets. Waller has seven catches in two of Las Vegas’ first three games out of their Week 8 bye, and he has 4+ catches in each of his 10 games. Travis Kelce (5/74 receiving) and Kyle Pitts (4/60) each reached double-digit FP in this matchup in the last two weeks.
Hunter Renfrow failed to reach 5+ catches and double-digit FP for just the second time in 11 tries, as he caught all four of his targets for 30 yards against the Bengals. Dallas is allowing just a 59.8% catch rate and only 11.9 catches per game to WRs.
Bryan Edwards has thrown up two goose eggs in his last two games with a 3/88/1 receiving performance sandwiched in the middle. Zay Jones hasn’t been any better with just a single catch in each of his first three games since being elevated into the starting lineup. The Cowboys are giving up 14.3 YPR to WRs.
Josh Jacobs has finished with fewer than 40 rushing yards in three out of his last four games, but he’s scratched fantasy value with 3+ catches in each of those games. Kenyan Drake is back to having a minimal role with fewer than 40 scrimmage yards in three straight games. The Cowboys are giving up the fifth-fewest FPG (21.2) to RBs, while Clyde Edwards-Helaire posted 12/63/1 rushing and 2/13 receiving in this matchup last week.
Brolley’s Cowboys Stats and Trends
Dallas has played under the total in four straight contests.
The Cowboys are 7-1 ATS in their last seven home games.
Dallas is 1-9 ATS in its last 10 Thanksgiving games.
The Cowboys have scored 20 or fewer points in three of their four games after a disappointing nine-point performance against the Chiefs in Week 11.
Dak Prescott posted season-worsts in INTs (2), QB rating (57.9), YPA (5.0), and FP (5.6) with Amari Cooper (COVID) out and CeeDee Lamb (concussion) missing the second half last week. He had thrown for multiple TDs with 19+ FP in six straight games before last week’s dud. The Raiders have given up 10 or fewer points to Joe Burrow and Daniel Jones since their Week 8 bye, and those performances were sandwiched around Patrick Mahomes’ 406/5 passing performance in Week 10.
Michael Gallup will likely be forced into the top receiver spot this week with Lamb looking doubtful for Thanksgiving. Dak missed Gallup for a monster play on the first play last week and it didn’t get much better from there, as he finished with 5/44 receiving on 10 targets. Tee Higgins managed just 2/15 receiving on three targets in this matchup last week. The Raiders are giving up the third-fewest receiving yards (127.7) to WRs this season.
Cedrick Wilson stepped into the #2 WR role behind Michael Gallup, registering 4/36 receiving on seven targets (16% share) in a loss to the Chiefs. Tyler Boyd posted a solid 6/49 receiving out of the slot in this matchup last week. Noah Brown tied Wilson for second-most routes with 31, but he failed to catch either of his targets.
Dalton Schultz had been quiet since their Week 7 bye with a combined 14.9 FP in his last three games (7/69 receiving), but he busted out for 6/53 receiving on eight targets for 11.3 FP with all of Dallas’ WR issues last week. Las Vegas is allowing the second-most catches per game (6.3) and the third-most receiving yards per game (66.7) to TEs this season.
Ezekiel Elliott gutted through an ankle injury last week, and he got to 12.8 FP thanks to some late passing-game production with 6/36 receiving. He’s now fallen below 55+ rushing yards in four straight games, and he’s reached the end zone in just one of his last five contests. Tony Pollard finished with 7/50 rushing and 2/20 receiving last week, and he could have a slightly bigger role this week if Lamb is out and if Zeke’s limited at all with his ankle issue. Joe Mixon (123/2 rushing) and Darrel Williams (144/1 scrimmage) have each posted 24+ FP over the last two weeks against the Raiders.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 28 (18th)
Plays per game: 60.1 (32nd)
Pass: 65.5% (5th) | Run: 34.5% (28th)
Pace: 26 (2nd)
Plays per game: 70.9 (4th)
Pass: 59.9% (19th) | Run: 40.1% (14th)
All pace / play data is from the last eight weeks.
In the three games since their bye, the Raiders offense has struggled to cash in after they’ve put just 16 (vs. Giants), 14 (vs. Chiefs), and 13 (vs. Bengals) on the board in three-straight losses. Here’s the thing, though: They’re moving the ball well! In fact, Vegas is gaining 7.9 yards per play on early-down, non-red-zone plays over the last three weeks – which is tops in the league. The Raiders’ issues have started in the red-zone. They’ve scored a TD on just three of their 10 red-zone possessions over the last three weeks. If they can fix their offense in scoring range over this short week, a scoring rebound should be in short order. Dallas’ red-zone defense has been sub-par this season as they’ve allowed a TD on 67% of drives (eight-highest).
Dallas has had two “burn the tape” games in Dak Prescott’s first two games back from a calf injury, which also coincides with LT Tyron Smith’s absence. Smith is back this week and that might be a big enough boost to soften the blow of Cooper and Lamb’s likely absences. The Cowboys have played towards four-straight unders since Week 8 after all of their games went off in Weeks 1-6 for an average of 58.5 total points.
Overall, this is the top game in the Week 12 pace / play model – mostly because Dallas is playing so fast (second in pace) and ripping off a ton of plays (fourth-most per game). Raiders-Cowboys certainly has plenty of juice to shoot out if Dallas can shake off last week’s loss and take advantage of this Raiders defense that has allowed 41 and 32 points to the Chiefs and Bengals over the last two weeks.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
Kansas City’s defense held up last week. The recent adjustments on the defensive side that fueled drastic improvements limited the Cowboys to nine points. But it certainly helped that Amari Cooper had been placed on the COVID list, CeeDee Lamb left with a concussion, and Ezekiel Elliott picked up an ankle injury to go with his knee injury. Zeke has already made it clear that he will play this week. And that should be music to our ears. The Raiders are supporting the fourth-most rushing YPG (132.1), seventh-most YPC (4.5), fourth-highest rate of 20+ yard runs (3.05%), and seventh-most FPG to opposing RBs (26.7).
As frustrated as I am in Derek Carr for his poor play in recent weeks, this is a road spot where he could rebound. Darren Waller finally stepped forward with a 7/116/0 line last week, and Hunter Renfrow continues to be his most reliable target. But Josh Jacobs has averaged just 3.3 YPC the last two weeks. It’s high time Las Vegas considers expanding the role of Kenyan Drake at Jacobs’ expense.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
Injuries and availability issues are the story of Thanksgiving for the Cowboys. We know for sure that WR Amari Cooper (COVID) will not play, while it is uncertain CeeDee Lamb (concussion) will be cleared in time.
For what it’s worth, owner Stephen Jones did express optimism that Lamb and LT Tyron Smith (ankle) would be available this week. And Smith might actually be more important for QB Dak Prescott as he looks to rebound from a terrible day last week.
Smith will play after getting in some full practices this week, which is good news for the Cowboys offense. Meanwhile, Lamb is making good progress.
CeeDee Lamb is going to practice today, according to Mike McCarthy. He’s got more protocol to clear, but McCarthy says he’s hit every step to this point.— David Helman (@HelmanDC) November 24, 2021
If he continues on this trajectory, Cowboys think he will play.
It would likely be wise for the Cowboys to focus on the run game given how carved up the Raiders have been the last few weeks on the ground, but the Cowboys aren’t healthy there either.
It’s possible Ezekiel Elliott (ankle, knee) going to be limited on Thanksgiving Day with a nasty-looking ankle injury he suffered against the Chiefs in Week 11. While Zeke played through the injury and posted 9/32 rushing and 6/36 receiving, he looked a lot less explosive than Tony Pollard (7/50 rushing, 2/20 receiving). Combined with a knee injury he’s been fighting through, Zeke is averaging just 3.7 YPC over his last five games, so it’s evident that the injuries are taking their toll. Zeke’s now gone under 70 yards rushing in five straight games (he did it just once in his first five), and he’s gone under a 70% snap share in the last three. He’s also scored just twice over that five game span… both in the same game. He’s getting hard to back as an RB1, though the matchup is juicy. I can endorse Pollard as a FLEX for sure.
Ezekiel Elliott took a shot to his right ankle on this play pic.twitter.com/D5drLdZim6— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) November 21, 2021
Ezekiel Elliott doesn’t blame his minor knee injury for his declining productivity. He says pain is brief and only comes with contact periodically. But he says team needs to effectively run the ball to be at its best. pic.twitter.com/qGtES8Xcnf— Ed Werder (@WerderEdESPN) November 23, 2021
If Lamb doesn’t go, it’s possible the Raiders choose to shadow WR Michael Gallup with Casey Hayward. Hayward has slipped a bit of late, but is still PFF’s 7th-graded CB. Things don’t get easier in the slot for Cedrick Wilson, who has to face off with Nate Hobbs, PFF’s 6th-graded CB. The Raiders have a lot going wrong, but their pass defense has been pretty good all things considered (the big “consideration” being Patrick Mahomes’ Week 10 blowup). This feels like a Dalton Schultz game.
While the Cowboys’ offensive performance against the Chiefs was ghastly, it does disguise a bit that their defensive performance was admirable against the Chiefs and dominant against the Falcons. It’s not a spot where I’m excited to be firing up Derek Carr.
I don’t know how anyone could play a Raider receiver outside of TE Darren Waller or WR Hunter Renfrow. Bryan Edwards has been shut out in two of his last three games, and DeSean Jackson fumbled after his only catch in two games as a Raider. Single-game or Turkey Day slate players might hope Edwards or Jackson get behind the aggressive Trevon Diggs for a play, but that’s likely not a risk season-long players are willing to take.
Here’s Graham from Stat-Pack on the Raiders’ struggles to score, which is almost entirely in the red zone, where the Cowboys struggle:
In the three games since their bye, the Raiders offense has struggled to cash in after they’ve put just 16 (vs. Giants), 14 (vs. Chiefs), and 13 (vs. Bengals) on the board in three-straight losses.
Here’s the thing, though: They’re moving the ball well! In fact, Vegas is gaining 7.9 yards per play on early-down, non-red-zone plays over the last three weeks – which is tops in the league.
The Raiders’ issues have started in the red-zone. They’ve scored a TD on just three of their 10 red-zone possessions over the last three weeks.