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Cowboys vs. Chargers Week 6: Where’s the Smart Money Going on MNF?

This article originally appeared at FanDuel Research.

Get set to cap off Week 6 with a big Chargers vs. Cowboys prediction, plus the latest odds and betting insights from our friends at FanDuel.

Monday Night Football is back with the Dallas Cowboys (3-2) visiting the Los Angeles Chargers (2-2) for a cross-conference matchup.

After a slew of uneventful primetime games, NFL fans should be in for a treat with this one — especially considering the high game total (50.5) and close spread (Dallas -1.5). The game kicks off at 8:15 p.m. EST and can be watched on ESPN and ABC.

The Cowboys have been a bit of an anomaly this season. Their three wins came against teams ranked 19th or lower by numberFire’s power ratings — New York Jets (19th), New England Patriots (27th), and New York Giants (29th) — but they by no means won these games by the skin of their teeth. In fact, they totally eviscerated these opponents, outscoring them by a towering 108-13.

However, Dallas also fell to a bottom-ranked Arizona Cardinals squad and didn’t come close to keeping up with the top-ranked San Francisco 49ers. Dallas was outscored 70-26 in those two defeats.

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They will face their most evenly matched opponent yet in the Chargers, and a win on the road could legitimize Dallas’ current -420 “To Make The Playoff” odds. A loss would hand the Cowboys a .500 record and lead to questions about their legitimacy as a true contender.

The Chargers, meanwhile, haven’t seen the field in more than two weeks and will look to come out strong following a bye. Their preseason win total of 9.5 has stood pat going into tonight’s game, but injuries have been an issue for them as they’ve been without some of their top offensive targets, although Austin Ekeler is expected back tonight.

With a game against the Kansas City Chiefs on the horizon, the Chargers will need to prioritize a win tonight to keep their current +104 “To Make the Playoff” odds afloat.

Let’s break things down with a big Cowboys vs. Chargers prediction, plus the latest odds and betting insights from FanDuel.

Cowboys at Chargers Week 6 Betting Odds: Spread, Total, and Moneyline

Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook and subject to change.

  • Spread: Cowboys -1.5 (-118)
  • Total: 50.5
  • Moneyline:
    • Cowboys: -130
    • Chargers: +110

Cowboys at Chargers Week 6 Matchup Analysis

In comparing the numbers for these teams going into Week 6, it becomes pretty clear why we have such a close spread on tap.

According to numberFire’s nERD-based power rankings, the Cowboys are the 7th-ranked team in the league while the Chargers are narrowly behind in the 12th spot.

Los Angeles boasts the better signal-caller between the two teams in Justin Herbert. Although Herbert and Dak Prescott rank similarly in Adjusted Total QBR — Herbert comes in sixth spot while Prescott sits seventh — their parallels end there.

Herbert ranks No. 6 among starting quarterbacks in EPA, seventh in Adjusted Passing Net Expected Point (NEP) per play, and No. 9 in passing success rate. Prescott ranks 15th, 11th, and 22nd, respectively, in those categories.

Based on this, it should be of no surprise that the Chargers’ overall offense is ranked 10th in the NFL while the Cowboys are back at the 18th spot.

Though the Chargers win games on offense, their weapons have been riddled with injuries and could shake things up going into tonight. Mike Williams was placed on IR with a torn ACL following Week 3. He had been averaging 83.0 yards per game on 8.7 targets prior to being sidelined, so it’s fair to say his presence is missed, even if the Chargers boast decent backup options.

Star running back Austin Ekeler was injured in Week 1 and hasn’t seen the field since, but he has been marked good to go for tonight’s game. The return of injured players, especially with someone as important as Ekeler, are always tricky to navigate, but all signs point to Ekeler having a full workload tonight. Reports suggest Ekeler was prepared to suit up last week if not for the bye, so he should give Herbert and the Chargers a much-needed boost against the dominant Dallas defense.

The Cowboys’ defense ranks fifth in the league, and they boast defensive monsters such as Micah Parsons and Demarcus Lawrence. If America’s Team wins this game, it will likely be won on defense.

Though the defense is the star of the show for Dallas, Prescott and his receivers have a chance to make a splash against the Chargers’ 20th-ranked defense.

The Bolts let up a whopping 404.0 yards per game (second-most), giving Prescott some room to rebound off his poor performance (153 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT) from last week. He will need help from star receiver CeeDee Lamb and disappointing-thus-far backup options such as Brandin Cooks and Michael Gallup, but if there’s a game where the Dallas offense has a shot to shine, it should be this one.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Cowboys’ infamous road struggles. Last season, the team went 8-1 at home and 4-4 on the road. This season has been more of the same, with Dallas posting a 2-0 home record and a 1-2 road mark.

Though home/away history is not the be-all and end-all, I think it helps give the Chargers the edge in this game — although there will likely be plenty of Dallas fans in the stands tonight. Plus, I trust Herbert and his targets to produce against a tough defense more than I do Prescott and company against a weak defense. But the path to a victory is fairly clear for both teams, so we should be in for a competitive shootout.

Cowboys vs. Chargers Prop Bets

CeeDee Lamb Over 73.5 Receiving Yards (-110)

Though Lamb has cleared this line just twice through five games, there is good reason why he could explode tonight.

Lamb, understandably so, leads the Dallas passing attack in just about every regard — snap rate (73.1%), route rate (88.0%), target share (21.9%), and air yard share (27.5%). Even though his season thus far could reasonably be classified as underperformance, he still averages 71.6 yards per game, which is not too far off from where he needs to be tonight.

More than any of this, though, is the fact that the Chargers give up a league-leading 231.75 yards per game to wide receivers. We can’t take the Chargers’ average as the bible, but we can expect some decent yardage work from Prescott and his wideouts.

Only one other Dallas receiver (Gallup) has eclipsed 60 yards through five games this season, leaving Lamb as the clear benefactor should the Cowboys capitalize on the Chargers’ vulnerable defense.

Austin Ekeler Over 51.5 Rushing Yards (-110)

It makes sense that the market would undervalue a player coming off a five-week injury stint, but it also makes sense that we would take advantage of this inordinately low line, especially considering that Austin Ekeler is expected to play without any limitations tonight.

In Week 1, Ekeler exploded for 117 rushing yards on 16 carries. While we should by no means expect a follow-up performance to that caliber, it is nice to know that he could cut his rush yardage from that game in half and still hit the over for this prop.

Last season, he averaged 53.8 rush yards per game on 12.0 carries. numberFire’s projections predict Ekeler to rush for 58.98 yards on 13.24 carries against the Cowboys.

Though Dallas gives up only 168.6 receiving yards per game (third-fewest), they struggle on the ground, giving up 123.4 rushing yards per game (ninth-most).

Ekeler will likely split time in the backfield with Joshua Kelley, but this shouldn’t perturb Ekeler bettors. He and Kelley both carried the ball 16 times in Week 1, and Kelley’s performance during Ekeler’s recent absence wasn’t anything to write home about. In what should be a close and high-scoring affair, I think Ekeler will produce more on the field than the market expects.

— Annie Nader

Cowboys vs. Chargers Prediction: NFL Week 6

The numberFire projections model gives the Cowboys a 57.7% chance of victory against Los Angeles.

A spread of 1.5 points and a total of 50.5 implies a final score of approximately 26-24.5.

Week 6 Cowboys vs. Chargers prediction via numberFire projection model

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