Cowboys vs Commanders Week 18 Picks and Predictions: All On the Table for Dallas

Ambiguity is the theme of Week 18 and that extends to the Cowboys, who could clinch home field, the NFC East... or have to go face Tom Brady next week. Fate awaits Dallas but our NFL picks don't expect the Commanders to trouble it.

Last Updated: Jan 8, 2023 8:14 AM ET Read Time: 4 min
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It’s going right to the wire for the Dallas Cowboys, as they enter this Week 18 matchup against the Washington Commanders with the NFC East and the NFC No. 1 seed still in play.

The Cowboys need a victory here and losses for the Eagles and 49ers to clinch the one seed, while a win and an Eagles loss would see them snatch the division.

Meanwhile, the Commanders were eliminated from the playoff hunt last weekend but they have a chance to play spoiler here. It’ll be a big day for rookie quarterback Sam Howell, who’s set to make his first NFL start.

For everything you need to know about this January 8 matchup, check out our free Cowboys vs Commanders NFL picks and predictions.

Cowboys vs Commanders best odds

Cowboys vs Commanders picks and predictions

In mid-December, it seemed like this game would be meaningless for Dallas yet critical for Washington’s playoff hopes, but a lot can change in a few weeks. Now it’s the Cowboys,  who rebounded from a loss in Jacksonville with consecutive wins, eyeing up a Week 18 slate that could radically alter their playoff path.

Tony Pollard, just short of 1,000 rushing yards, should be back to bolster an explosive Dallas offense after sitting out against the Titans, and there’s every reason for the visitors to treat this as a playoff tune-up.

Of course, Sam Howell is the wildcard. The Commanders’ players and coaches have spoken glowingly about his progress this year, but there are sure to be debut nerves. Ordinarily, it would be reassuring for Washington to lean on its ground game, but Antonio Gibson and Brian Robinson have both been ruled out.

That could leave Howell with a lot of third-and-long situations, which spells trouble against a Dallas defense that ranks third in sacks and sixth in interceptions. The speed and physicality of Micah Parsons and Demarcus Lawrence will test Howell’s decision-making from the first snap.

While there’s a chance that the Cowboys take their foot off the gas and rest starters in the second half if other scores aren’t going their way, Dallas got steady production from backup quarterback Cooper Rush earlier in the season and he’s capable of holding onto a lead. 

My best bet: Cowboys -6.5 (-115 at Pinnacle)

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Cowboys vs Commanders spread analysis

All indications suggest the Cowboys will play their starters here and that, plus an unproven Howell, has pushed the line up toward a touchdown spread. For context, the line opened at 4.5 when it seemed that Taylor Heineke would be starting for Washington.

The numbers back up the visitors’ edge here. The Cowboys are 7-1 ATS in their last eight games following an ATS loss while the Commanders have failed to cover the spread in their last four games. The favorite in this matchup is 6-2 ATS over the past eight meetings, including Dallas’ 25-10 victory at home in early October.

The Cowboys didn’t need to get out of first gear to beat the depleted Titans last time out, but McCarthy’s men flexed their muscles in a 40-34 win over the Jalen Hurts-less Eagles in Week 16. I expect them to finish the regular season on a high note.

Assuming Dak Prescott’s knee is good to go, the visitors will have a sizeable experience edge in the quarterback battle on Sunday. Still, after Carson Wentz’s three-interception disaster against the Browns, the only way is up for Howell and this Washington offense. After three straight disappointing losses, it’s hard to believe the Commanders looked like a playoff team before their Week 14 bye.

Cowboys vs Commanders Over/Under analysis

In many ways, this line boils down to how much you trust Howell to deliver a reasonable debut outing. Terry McLaurin seems to deliver regardless of who’s under center, while Howell has a connection with speedy receiver Dyami Brown from their days at UNC. 

The numbers largely point to the Under, which is 7-1 in the Commanders’ last eight games following an ATS loss. Washington hasn’t scored more than 20 points since a 23-10 win over the Texans in Week 11.

For Dallas, I’m expecting to see plenty of Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott, with little incentive for the Cowboys to get too deep into their passing game playbook. The best case for the Over? The visitors have scored at will this year, averaging just under 29 points a game, which is the second-best mark in the NFL behind Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs.

Cowboys vs Commanders betting trend to know

The Under is 5-0 in Washington’s last five home games against teams with a winning road record. Find more NFL betting trends for Cowboys vs. Commanders.

Cowboys vs Commanders game info

Location: FedExField, Landover, MD
Date: Sunday, January 8, 2023
Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. ET
Opening odds: Commanders +6.5, 42

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