Tuesday night NFL game as Ravens, Cowboys try to stay alive in playoff race

Quarterback Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens (Left photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) and CeeDee Lamb #88 of the Dallas Cowboys (Right photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images).

The Baltimore Ravens and Dallas Cowboys both started the season back in the second week of September holding realistic dreams of playing in Super Bowl LV in early February. But as the final quarter of the regular season schedule dawns for both squads, the reality of the manner is both teams are hanging by a thread.

The Ravens -- decimated by COVID cases and an inconsistent offense -- are 6-5 and 1 ½ games behind the Colts and Dolphins for the final wild-card spots in the AFC. The Cowboys -- who suffered a devastating injury to Dak Prescott and the cold reality of a poor defense -- now are facing a two-game deficit behind the New York Giants in the NFC East.

Because of that, Tuesday night’s game at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore (8 p.m., FOX) has basically become an elimination game. Another slip by either team will likely place them out of the playoff picture.

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The sports betting information

On FOXBet.com Sportsbook, the Ravens are 8 ½ point favorites on Sunday night with a money line of -350. (A $350 bet is needed to win $100.) The Cowboys are +280 – a $100 bet will win $280. The over under is 45 points.

Against the spread this year, Dallas is a league worst 2-9 this season. The Ravens are 5-6 against the number for the year. 

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The history

Since the two teams are in opposite conferences, they only play each other once every four years. Since the Ravens moved to Baltimore in 1997, they are 4-1 against the Cowboys. However, Dallas won the last game between the two back in 2016 – a 27-17 victory at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Tx. Dez Bryant had two touchdown catches in that game for Dallas. Bryant is on the Ravens roster this time around.

The storylines to watch

Baltimore has lost three straight games – including Wednesday’s 19-14 game at Pittsburgh that saw the Ravens play without starters up and down the lineup. Jackson was one of the Baltimore standouts who had to sit out because of COVID-19 protocols, but the belief is that he will be under center on Tuesday night. Still, the Ravens have struggled to get the offense going. The top-ranked offense in points in 2019 (33.2 points per game) is now averaging 25.6, good for 15th in the NFL. Unless there’s more of an offensive presence, the Ravens are going to spend January watching the playoffs on television. 

Meanwhile, Dallas is 3-8 on merit. They are allowing 32.6 points a game -- last in the NFL. The offensive point total of 22.8 per game (23rd in the NFL) has taken a major hit since Prescott got hurt on Oct. 11 against the Giants. Up to that point, Dallas was a 2-3 football team that was averaging 32.6 points a game. In the six games since then, the Cowboys are 1-5 and have averaged 14.7 points a game. Dallas hasn’t played since a 41-16 loss to Washington on Thanksgiving. Andy Dalton has given the offense a little bit of life, but not enough to compensate for the poor defense.  

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