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NFL: Dallas Cowboys @ Tennessee Titans preview

Having secured a playoff berth last week, the Dallas Cowboys are on the road as they travel to face the Tennessee Titans on Thursday Night Football.

The Cowboys rallied to beat the Philadelphia Eagles 40-34 at home last Saturday and head to Nashville as heavy favourites against a Titans team that eventually let their lead in the AFC South slip after a fifth straight defeat.

Tennessee's trajectory is plain to see but what must be worrisome to Mike Vrabel and his coaching staff is that they lost 19-14 at home to the Houston Texans, who picked up just their second win of the season.

What: Dallas Cowboys @ Tennessee Titans
Where: Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tennessee
When: 20.15 ET / 17.15 PT, Thursday, December 29  
How to watch: Amazon Prime Video
Odds: DAL Cowboys -650, Ten Titans +475

Plenty on the line for Cowboys

This game means more to Dallas even though Mike McCarthy's men have secured their postseason berth and the Titans have not.

The 11-4 Cowboys still have a chance to overhaul Philly in the NFC East division race and an outside shot at earning the No. 1 conference seed throughout the playoffs.

That is a pretty big incentive to show up for this inter-conference clash while, in contrast, the Titans know that their season rests on the forthcoming divisional matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars no matter what either team do this week.

It could also mean Vrabel decides to rest one or two of his banged-up players in order to have them in the best shape possible for the trip to TIAA Bank Field next Sunday.

Derrick Henry is listed as doubtful on the Titans' injury report with a hip that limited him in practice Tuesday.

Whether Vrabel dare suggest a break to the two-time NFL rushing champion, who needs 71 more yards and two additional scores to become the first player in NFL history with at least 1,500 yards and 15 rushing TDs in three seasons in his career, remains to be seen.

Tennessee have leaned heavily on the 28-year-old because of their troubles at quarterback and 'King Henry' has delivered three straight 100-yard games, each with a TD.

The Titans offense ranks a lowly 30th overall and likewise for passing production. Starting QB Ryan Tannehill will miss his second straight game, allowing rookie Malik Willis the chance to build on his best outing as a pro last week.

The former Liberty Flames star went 14 of 23 for 99 yards and ran in the first touchdown of his career, although he was intercepted twice in the final 93 seconds, the second of which was the final play of the game.

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Error count worth watching

Rookie errors can be anticipated, and really should be expected against an elite Cowboys defense that came up with the plays when needed in last week's downing of the Eagles.

Willis has been sacked ten times in his limited playing time this year and will need to have eyes in the back of his head to avoid trouble from Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence, who lead a ferocious Dallas pass rush that ranks third in the NFL in total sacks.

The Cowboys defense are allowing the sixth-fewest points per game (20.2) this year and will want to get that average back down after backup Eagles QB Gardner Minshew threw for two TDs and added another with his legs last Saturday.

Dallas are actually 7-1 at hitting the over in the last eight games, but the Total has been bet down from 42.5 to 40.0 for this game.

Given the Titans are averaging a depressing 15.2 points per game since Week 12, it's not hard to see why.

There could still be some value in taking Dallas to cover the -12.0 point Spread at -110 as they boast an impressive 11-4 ATS record over their last 15 road games.

The Cowboys should get plenty of joy against a Titans' pass defense that ranks 31st in yards allowed per game.

QB Dak Prescott has completed 69% of his passes with 20 touchdowns in nine games since he returned from thumb surgery.

He has consistent weapons in the backfield such as Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard, who have combined for 23 touchdowns, and out wide where CeeDee Lamb will have a favorable matchup against a Titans' secondary that has allowed 19 TDs to wide receivers.

The Titans are 0-4-1 ATS over their current five-game losing streak and, with the possibility that they may be more focused on next week, this looks like a rare situation where the double-digit road favorite is the sensible bet.

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