Coach’s Picks: Best Bets Against The Spread, NFL Week 17

Each week throughout the 2023 NFL Season, coach Kevin Kelley will give a coach’s perspective and provide analysis for a few games against the spread.

Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions Spread Prediction:

Look for the Lions to cover as six-point road underdogs against the Cowboys and the game total to go OVER 52 points.

» Bet Lions +6 and Over 52 now!

Why I like the Lions to cover against the Cowboys and the total to go over 52 points in Week 17:

I didn’t have to look far for my two wagers this week. I like both of them in this game.

One thing I have to do is balance numbers versus the coaching view, which you will understand after reading.

Everyone knows about the difference in play between Dak Prescott and the Cowboys at home versus on the road.

At home, CeeDee Lamb and the offense average 40 points per game. On the road, they average 17.

They average over 70 more passing yards per game at home, and that number would be higher but they have won so many games by halftime at home they haven’t thrown nearly as much in the second half of home games.

They even lost to the Arizona Cardinals on the road and only scored 16 points in that game.

In that same thought process, picking out places where teams play well, let’s take a look at the Detroit Lions.

On the road, in outdoor stadiums, the Lions and Jared Goff average 18 points per game. On the road indoors, the Lions have scored 41, 33, and 30 points, good for 35 points per game.

Stay with me here. The Lions are 6-1 at home (indoors) and 3-0 when on the road indoors.

While the Cowboys score points at home, the Lions score them in a dome. Points will be scored in this game. So the over is a must-play for me. If these two teams cut their production down 20 total points, the game still goes over. And I think it will.

Here is the why.

The first question I asked was why the Cowboys are so different at home. Is there a reason that could rear its ugly head offensively to stop them from scoring at home? A bottom-tier pass defense like the Lions won’t stop them because I truly believe, and I have no idea why they won’t fix this, that I know why the Cowboys do well at home.

Prescott probably uses more verbal communication than anyone in the NFL in changing pass protections, identifying, and changing the plays or routes. At home, that works great because the crowd gets quiet on offense largely due to Payton Manning when he was with Indianapolis.

On the road, Dallas still attempts to use verbal communication way too much Instead of changing it, they simply say screw it and go with the play called even if there is a better one.

IF they try to change it, it results in the ball being snapped with one second on the play clock, enabling defenses to tee off on them because they know the ball has to be snapped. It is killing them.

The Lions can score on the road because they can run the ball with Jahmyr Gibbs and David Montgomery. Off that, they can play action pass, and Goff is great with that added blocking time caused by good play action and the help it creates in the middle of the field, where he loves to throw and is one of the most efficient in the NFL.

That play action sparks the linebackers running toward the line and then having to retreat quickly. Sam LaPorta and Amon-Ra St. Brown play big in the middle as a result. Jameson Williams is being used more and more as well, and I think that is huge for Detroit.

The Cowboys love to jump out routes, but they are weaker in the middle and, as I mentioned, the Lions throw there more than most in the league.

So how can the Lions stay close to the Cowboys to cover the six-point spread or even beat them?

Some of that is answered above. The weakness of the Cowboys is their run defense, and then that play action off of it nullifies some of the pass rush by Micah Parsons and Demarcus Lawrence. See the 49ers game if you don’t believe it.

The Lions got Frank Ragnow back. He is so big making calls for the offensive line in addition to simply being effective at all forms of the run and pass game. The big man pulls often and is fantastic on the edge in blocking.

The Lions don’t do it the same way as I thought the Cowboys would, but they do it in the same prototype. I thought the Cowboys would be able to run the ball better this year as Tony Pollard is one of only a handful of backs to average over 5 yards per carry in his first few years.

This year, he barely averages 4 YPC, and the Cowboys, and I am not upset about this, have become pass-happy.

The only mistake is not throwing to Lamb enough and using Michael Gallup at all. Jake Ferguson is a weapon too, but people can play pass the whole time because that run isn’t going to scare them. To top things off, the Cowboys didn’t have Tyron Smith last week, and they may not have him with the short week here (play on Saturday).

I truly believe the Lions could beat the Cowboys this week, but I believe even more that it will be a high-scoring game. If they played it ten times, the Lions would win or keep it within six points seven out of those 10 because of everything mentioned above.

Both teams will move the ball, but the red zone problems the Cowboys have scare me as well.

Give me the Lions +6 and the over 52 in this one!

Bonus NFL Best Bets for Week 17:

  • Falcons +3 Bears — Both teams suck but Falcons have more to play for.
  • Saints +3 Buccaneers — Baker Mayfield has been lighting it up, but against some of the worst passing defenses in the league.
  • Panthers +6 Jaguars — Jags are reeling and have quarterback problems while the Panthers are actually giving the effort and using Bryce Young’s legs like they should have at the beginning of the year.

Throw some Chick-fil-A money on them!

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