Week six in the NFL was an overall low-scoring week, but if there were one game that could change that, it would be this matchup between the Cowboys and Chargers. With both teams ranking in the top six in average points per game, tonight’s game may help fans forget about yesterday’s low-scoring primetime game. After previewing tonight’s matchup, I’ll break down which two prop markets I’ll be targeting for my plays.
Having a bye week last weekend allowed the Chargers to get some much-needed recovery time for players like Austin Ekeler. While LA was getting players healthy and gearing up for this week, the Cowboys were getting embarrassed on Sunday Night Football by the 49ers. In their 42-10 loss, the Cowboys posted a (-23.12) offensive EPA, which was the first time they posted a negative EPA on that side of the ball all season.
A big reason for that lack of production was the play of Dak Prescott, as he finished the game with 153 yards and three interceptions. Since Dallas found themselves down 21-7 going into halftime, any chance they had of establishing their run game went out the window. For a team that is 3rd in the league in rush play percentage, Dallas finished with just 19 rush attempts.
The Cowboys' defense certainly didn’t do anything to stop the blowout either, allowing Brock Purdy to do essentially anything he wanted. Purdy threw for 252 yards and four touchdowns, causing the Dallas defense to have a (-12.84) EPA.
It won’t get much easier for the Cowboys defense tonight, either, since Justin Herbert has been playing at a near MVP-caliber level to start the season. In their four games leading into their week five bye, the Chargers offense produced a positive EPA in all four games, with Herbert completing 71.23% of his passes for 1,1106 yards and seven touchdowns.
LA’s offense did lack explosiveness in their week four win over the Raiders, which was their first game without Mike Williams, but they will be getting Austin Ekeler back tonight as he’ll suit for the first time since week one. With Ekeler on the sideline for three weeks, Joshua Kelley did not produce much in his absence, averaging 38.6 yards per game.
Prior to his injury, the season could not have started off more promising for Austin Ekeler. In the Chargers' week one loss to the Dolphins, Ekeler saw 16 carries and went for 117 rushing yards and a touchdown. Getting the bye week to ensure he’s fully healthy is a significant development heading into this matchup, as head coach Brandon Staley stated that he will get a full workload tonight.
Not only is the full health report ideal to see, but the Cowboys' lack of run-stopping production is also ideal for Ekeler backers. According to FantasyPros, Dallas has the 7th worst explosive run rate allowed and has allowed the 4th most yards per carry on zone runs this season, which is big since more than 50% of Ekeler’s carries are on zone runs.
Last weekend against the 49ers, Dallas allowed two different running backs to exceed 49.5 yards, and I think we see Los Angeles lean on the run a tad bit more tonight since their highest-scoring game of the season came when Ekeler was in the line-up. With a fully rested offensive line in front of him, I expect Ekeler to have a solid return to action.
Prescott is coming off his worst game of the season, but the good news is that he is facing a Chargers team that is 17th in the league in opponent completion percentage. The Cowboys signal-caller has gone over tonight’s set total in three of his five games this season, with the two unders coming in blowout games.
Even after last weekend, Prescott is still 6th in the league in completion percentage at 69.4% and 4th in expected completion percentage at 67.5%. This gives me a lot of confidence in backing him against a Chargers defense that plays zone coverage the 7th most out of any NFL teams yet still ranks 29th in zone coverage grade, according to PFF. In what could be a high-scoring game, Prescott will likely be tabbed with dropping back often, so the completions should be there by the end of the game.
Austin Ekeler Over 49.5 Rushing Yards (-115)
Dak Prescott Over 22.5 Completions (-115)