Dallas will be without two more offensive linemen, as both Zack Martin and Cameron Erving are out
Entering Week 13, Dallas had conceded more rushing yards than any defense in the NFL
It’s hard to know the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on Baltimore’s players and personnel, but from a purely football perspective, the timing was terrible. They had been struggling out of their Week 7 bye and were in need of a big performance when it hit, and instead they faced divisional rival Pittsburgh last Wednesday down several starters. After falling in that one, they’ve now lost four of their five games since their bye, and now sit at 6-5 after starting the season 5-1.
If we had a reasonable idea Baltimore was 100%, this game would feel like the perfect get right spot. The Cowboys have been banged up along the offensive line all year, but will head to Baltimore without two Week 12 starters, including four-time first-team All-Pro guard Zack Martin, as well as tackle Cameron Erving. The Cowboys had both guys in their lineup two weeks ago when they got their offense going a bit in a big win in Minnesota, but neither played more than 10 snaps on Thanksgiving in what turned into a blowout loss to Washington.
Because Dallas last played on Thanksgiving, they should be well rested elsewhere, while the Ravens are playing on a short week after losing to Pittsburgh last Wednesday, and they’ve missed plenty of practice time of late. Still, the Ravens know this is a must-win spot, as they can’t afford to drop a fourth game in their last five.
The Ravens are expected to have Lamar Jackson back under center, and have also activated running backs J.K. Dobbins and Mark Ingram, defensive linemen Calais Campbell and Jihad Ward, and six other players. Among their starters, tight end Mark Andrews, wide receiver Willie Snead, and linebacker Matthew Judon are not expected to be ready for Tuesday night’s game.
While they aren’t at 100%, that does put the Ravens in a much better position than they were in last week against Pittsburgh. And the reality is that even down a couple of key players, the Ravens are the clearly superior team to Dallas in all phases. With a banged up offensive line, the Cowboys are going to have a tough go of it on offense. The question will be whether the Ravens can figure out some of their offensive woes and control this game.
Given the way Washington steamrolled Dallas’s defense in the second half last week, I expect that answer to be yes. We know Baltimore wants to run the ball, and Dallas entered Week 13 having conceded the most rushing yards of any team in the NFL. Washington ran for 182 yards on them on Thanksgiving, with lead back Antonio Gibson piling up 115 and three touchdowns. The rest advantage certainly favors Dallas, but when Baltimore is right, running the ball is what they do best.
Of course, Dallas has struggled to stop opposing passing games as well. Baltimore needs a big offensive game, and after a gritty performance to stay within shouting distance of Pittsburgh last week, I expect they’ll come out attacking this soft defense as they try to get their season back on track. If that's the case, given the Cowboys' likely struggles on offense, the Ravens should have no trouble covering the big spread.
NFL Expert Picks
1u - Baltimore Ravens -8 @ +105
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We don't have a Thursday Night Football clash this week due to the rescheduled Ravens and Steelers game that took place at the end of Week 12. Week 13 sees a number of divisional clashes with the Saints and Falcons, Colts and Texans, and Rams and Cardinals meeting on Sunday. Sunday Night Football sees the Broncos face the Chiefs in a divisional clash on primetime. On Monday we'll get two games with the Washington Football Team's trip to Pittsburgh televised ahead of the Bills vs. 49ers meeting on Monday Night Football. We get bonus football again on Tuesday with the Ravens welcoming the Cowboys to M&T Bank Stadium.
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