Monday Night Football Preview

Cowboys at Buccaneers

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Each week, TheLines will provide a betting breakdown and analysis for the upcoming Monday Night Football game. We will look at the odds and see why they’re moving a certain way, along with breaking down the matchup and providing the week’s best prop bets. This week, the Dallas Cowboys will square off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a Wild Card showdown. Here we will look at MNF betting odds for this game and see why they’re moving a certain way, along with breaking down the matchup and providing the week’s best prop bets.

Get all of your betting information for Monday Night Football below.

MNF betting odds

Dallas Cowboys () at Tampa Bay Buccaneers ()

The Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will face off at Raymond James Stadium for an NFC Wild Card clash on Monday night, Jan. 16. The game will mark the 22nd meeting, including two previous postseason games, in a series the Cowboys lead by a 15-6 margin. 

The two teams come into this elimination matchup off Week 18 losses, although each had a different context. The Cowboys rolled out their starters for the majority of their road game against the Commanders but encountered little success, eventually falling by a 26-6 score. Meanwhile, the Bucs took a 30-17 defeat at the hands of the Falcons in their own right, but Tom Brady and the majority of starters were out of the game by midway through the second quarter.

Dallas and Tampa Bay also met in Week 1 of the regular season at AT & T Stadium, a game the Bucs prevailed in by a 19-3 margin and in which Dak Prescott suffered a fractured thumb that kept him out until Week 7.

The spread for this primetime postseason clash has been relatively steady throughout the week. The Cowboys were listed as three-point favorites in the immediate aftermath of Week 18 on Monday, and it’s toggled between that figure and 2.5 since then. As of late Friday morning, it sits at 2.5 at multiple sportsbooks.  

The total has also been very stable, with only a half-point’s worth of movement demonstrated. The number opened at 45.5 at the beginning of the week and bumped down to 45 on multiple occasions in subsequent days. As of late Friday morning, it’s back to 45.5 at multiple sportsbooks.

  • The Cowboys were 10-7 against the spread this regular season, including 4-4 as a road team and 7-5 in conference games. 
  • The Over was 9-8 in Dallas’ games this regular season, including 4-4 in its road games and 6-6 in its games against NFC opponents.
  • The Buccaneers were 4-12-1 against the spread this regular season, including 1-6-1 as a home team and 4-7-1 in conference games.
  • The Over was 6-11 in Tampa Bay’s games this regular season, including 4-4 in its home games and 3-9 in its conference games.   

MNF prop search tool

Looking for MNF betting odds for props? Use our prop search tool to find the best odds across legal sportsbooks in the US.

Dallas Cowboys versus Tampa Bay Buccaneers betting news

Cowboys vs. Buccaneers game matchup

The entire Cowboys offense put together a worrisome performance in the aforementioned season finale versus Washington, but Prescott’s body of work is the area of biggest concern. The franchise quarterback didn’t exactly look steady when it came to ball security down the stretch run of the season, throwing 11 interceptions in the last seven games while also committing four fumbles (one lost) in that span. Prescott also looked less than sharp while he was in there against Tampa Bay back in Week 1, completing just 14 of 29 passes for 134 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. The Buccaneers is healthy again after dealing with multiple key injuries late in the season, but Tampa was near the bottom of the league with only 10 interceptions. However, the Bucs pressured well once again while accumulating 45 sacks and yielded a modest 211 passing yards per home contest.

The good news for the Cowboys’ prospects of keeping the defense off balance for Prescott is that the Bucs sported nowhere near the same elite run defense in 2022 as in recent seasons. Tampa Bay allowed 120.7 rushing yards per game overall, including 174 to Atlanta in Week 18. The Bucs also conceded 4.4 RB yards per carry and ranked in the bottom half of the league in both second-level and open-field yards allowed. Meanwhile, Dallas averaged 136 rushing yards per road game behind the dynamic Ezekiel Elliott-Tony Pollard tandem and will have a healthy offensive line for them to run behind. Elliott averaged over 5.0 yards per carry in the season-opening loss, but game script limited him and Pollard to just 16 combined touches on the ground. 

On the other side, the Buccaneers’ passing game hasn’t exactly been hitting on all cylinders most of the season, either, but Tom Brady still found his way to his second-highest passing yardage total, 4,694, since 2015. The future Hall of Famer did throw two interceptions apiece in Weeks 14-16 after only tossing three prior to that point, but he finished the season plenty of momentum courtesy of a memorable 432-yard, three-touchdown tally versus the Panthers in Week 17. Brady and his Mike Evans/Chris Godwin-helmed pass-catching corps now face a Cowboys defense that was actually stingier when traveling. Dallas allowed just 199.1 passing yards per road game in the regular season at an NFC-low 59.8 percent completion percentage. What’s more, the ‘Boys terrorized quarterbacks to the tune of 16 interceptions and 54 sacks, although the Bucs counter with an NFL-best 3.4 percent adjusted sack rate allowed, per Football Outsiders.

Tampa Bay also has a talented 1-2 punch in the backfield that can contribute in both rushing and receiving capacities in Leonard Fournette and rookie Rachaad White. Nevertheless, the duo frequently went underused at home, where the Bucs produced an NFL-high 73.2 percent pass play rate. Yet, given the secondary is unquestionably the strength of the Cowboys defense, this game could see a different gameplan deployed. Dallas allowed 132.6 rushing yards per road game at 4.7 yards per carry, certainly giving offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich a very viable path to keeping the heat off Brady throughout the game with a bit more reliance on the run game than usual. 

It also bears mentioning Fournette flourished in this matchup back in Week 1 with 127 yards on 21 carries; however, Dallas’ ability to prevent pass-catching production by running backs is also noteworthy given Fournette’s and White’s superior talent in that regard – the Cowboys surrendered the fourth-fewest receptions (63) and eight-fewest receiving yards (463) to running backs. 

How to watch Monday Night Football

ESPN holds the rights to Monday Night Football and will cover 17 games from Week 1 through Week 17.

Games can be streamed on the go on ESPN’s website or WatchESPN app with a cable or satellite subscription. Streaming services such as Sling TV also carry ESPN in many of their subscription packages.

MNF betting tips

How to bet MNF like a sharp

Monday Night Football can be the most highly-anticipated game of any given week in the NFL throughout the season. The extra day of preparation, media coverage and overall hype brings more attention to every aspect of the game.

The extra day of rest can allow players to return from injury, but they may also be forcing themselves back to the field before they’re truly healthy due to the added attention on the game. Look at injury reports and have an idea of what kind of a role a star player will be able to handle.

The Monday Night spot can also create discrepancies in how much rest the two teams have had. Taking the most rested team (the one with the longest amount of time since its last game) can often be a good place to find some value at the sportsbooks, especially on the spread.

Never bet a game solely because it’s the final matchup of the week and is the best thing to watch on a Monday Night. Be ready to sit it out completely and wait for next week if there’s no value popping out at books.

Frequently Asked Questions

When does Monday Night Football start?

The 2022 Monday Night Football slate starts on Monday, Sept. 12 with the Broncos facing the Seahawks in Seattle.

ESPN broadcast two Monday Night Football games in Week 1 for many years but that was not the case last season. This year, ESPN/ABC will feature a Monday night double-header, but it will take place in Week 2. On Monday, Sept. 19 the Tennessee Titans will play at the Buffalo Bills at 7:15 p.m. Eastern. That first game of the double-header will be broadcast on ESPN. ABC will broadcast the “nightcap” as the Minnesota Vikings play at the Philadelphia Eagles in a game that will start at 8:30 p.m. ET.

Every other MNF game from Week 3 through Week 17 of the 2022 season will begin at 8:15 p.m. Eastern.

How to stream Monday Night Football?

The ESPN website and WatchESPN app are the easiest options for those with cable or satellite subscriptions. Many streaming services such as Sling TV, PlayStation Vue and Hulu include ESPN in most of their plans.

What is the highest-scoring Monday Night Football game ever?

The Rams’ 54-51 victory over the Chiefs in Week 11 of the 2018 season was the highest-scoring MNF game of all time. The 105 combined points topped the 95 points scored by the Green Bay Packers and Washington Redskins in 1983.

Who are the MNF announcers?

ESPN and Monday Night Football went all out for 2022 and beyond as they swiped Joe Buck and Troy Aikman from FOX. Since NBC got the broadcast rights to Sunday Night Football back in 2006, MNF lost a bit of its luster as the primary showcase of the league’s “game of the week.”

The NFL clearly rewarded ESPN for going big this offseason, though, as it gets arguably the most anticipated game of the regular season right out of the gate. Russell Wilson’s return to Seattle in Week 1 will surely be one of the highest rated and most bet-on sporting events of the year.

Steve Levy, who was the play-by-play man for MNF for the past two years, will now be the “B-team” announcer for ESPN. He will be joined by Louis Riddick and Dan Orlovsky.

Who was the original Monday Night Football broadcast crew?

The original MNF broadcast crew on ABC in 1970 was made up of Keith Jackson, Howard Cosell and Don Meredith. Many cycled through the crew before Al Michaels took over as play-by-play commentator from 1986 through 2005. His color analysts included Frank Gifford, Dan Dierdorf, Boomer Esiason, Dan Fouts, Dennis Miller and John Madden. Mike Tirico assumed play-by-play duties with Tony Kornheiser, Joe Theismann, Suzy Kolber and Michele Tafoya filling out the crew when ESPN took over the rights in 2006. Jon Gruden replaced Kornheiser in 2009 until he returned to the sidelines as head coach of the Raiders.