Steelers vs. Cowboys spread, odds, pick: Andy Dalton expected to play, so Ben DiNucci era is over
As of this writing, there is no opening line at William Hill sportsbook for this Sunday's Pittsburgh at Dallas matchup because it's not 100 percent certain who will be at quarterback for the struggling Cowboys, but it is expected that Andy Dalton will return from a concussion and start. Which means the Ben DiNucci era mercifully ends after just one game for Dallas. Unbeaten Pittsburgh should open as around a 9.5-point favorite on the NFL odds.
If that spread were to get to double digits, which is quite possible, it would mark the first time Dallas has been a double-digit home dog since 1990.
The Steelers are 7-0 for the first time since 1978 – when they finished with a franchise-record 14 regular-season wins and beat the Cowboys 35-31 in a very memorable Super Bowl XIII. Two of the league's marquee franchises have met in the Super Bowl three times. Pittsburgh might get there this February but at 2-6 the Cowboys certainly are not.
DiNucci, a seventh-round pick out of James Madison, looked overwhelmed in Sunday night's 23-9 loss in Philadelphia – the Cowboys have totaled just 22 points in a three-game losing streak that started after Dak Prescott suffered a season-ending injury. The Cowboys' offense has failed to cover a TD in back-to-back games for only the fourth time in team history. When Mike McCarthy was coaching the Packers, they never went consecutive games without a TD.
DiNucci was 21 of 40 for 180 yards with no TDs and no picks but was sacked four times and lost two fumbles. On attempts more than 10 yards downfield, he was 0-for-9. He was the 14th rookie to start a game for the Cowboys and joined Kevin Sweeney as the only seventh-round rookies to start at quarterback in franchise history.
Dalton has plenty of experience facing the Steelers from his Bengals days, but he's just 3-13 in 16 starts vs. Pittsburgh with 19 TD passes and 14 picks for a rating of 77.0. That rating would be better than just five QBs this season.
Dallas is now 0-8 against the spread this season. Since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, only two teams -- the 1991 Bengals and 2003 Raiders -- had ever started 0-8 ATS. Cincinnati covered the spread in its ninth game, while Oakland pushed. The worst-ever ATS mark for Dallas was 3-12-1 in 1997.
While a 2-6 record might lead some to believe that the Cowboys will be a seller ahead of Tuesday's Trade Deadline, executive VP Stephen Jones said on Dallas radio Monday that pass-rusher Aldon Smith, at least, will not be dealt.
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