Titans, Cowboys come out of their bye week looking to build momentum for the second half of the season
The Dallas Cowboys will host the Tennessee Titans for this week’s "Monday Night Football" matchup. Both teams sit at a disappointing 3-4 on the season, but there could be newfound hope coming off the bye week.
The Cowboys have been rock solid at home in 2018. They’re a perfect 3-0 in AT&T Stadium while all four of their losses have been on the road.
The Titans haven’t seen the same sort of home-away splits, but it’s been a tale of two mini-runs to start the year. After an opening week loss to the Miami Dolphins, Tennessee went on a three-game winning streak to get to 3-1. Since then, they’ve balanced things out by dropping three straight.
It should be interesting to see how rested each team looks, and what adjustments were made as they approach the second half of the season.
Tennessee at Dallas
Kickoff: Monday, Nov. 5 at 8:15 p.m. ET
Spread: Cowboys -4
Three Things to Watch
1. How will Amari Cooper fare in his Cowboys debut?
The Cowboys were in desperate need of a No. 1 receiver for Dak Prescott. After letting Dez Bryant walk in the offseason, the team had struggled to find an adequate replacement despite bringing in Allen Hurns in free agency and selecting Michael Gallup in the third round of this year's draft.
Dallas' brain trust decided that former Raider and 2015 first-round pick Amari Cooper would be the perfect solution to this problem. The Cowboys even went as far as to send their 2019 first-round pick to get the deal done.
Considering guys like Golden Tate (third-round pick), Demaryius Thomas (fourth) and Josh Gordon (fifth) went for far less, there hasn’t been a shortage of critics of the deal. Monday night will be the perfect opportunity for Cooper to begin proving he was worth that sort of investment.
2. Can Marcus Mariota bounce back?
Yet again, it’s been a rough start to the season for Titans’ quarterback. After dealing with an elbow injury suffered in Week 1, the former No. 2 overall pick hasn’t exactly set the world on fire since his return.
He’s averaging less than 200 passing yards per game (171.7) while throwing five interceptions to only three touchdowns. The hope is that the bye week allowed him – and the rest of the offense – some time to get healed up and on the same page.
Whether that happened will go a long way in determining how the rest of the team’s season goes.
3. Lingering effects from the failed two-point conversion?
It was a brutal loss for the Titans a couple of weeks ago in London. Being down 17-6 in the third quarter, things started to look up as Tennessee pulled to within one with 31 seconds left on the clock.
Unfortunately, a failed two-point conversion attempt ended any chance at a potential victory. Some criticized the decision to not kick the extra point to send it to overtime, but head coach Mike Vrabel stood by the decision.
It’ll be interesting to see if any lingering effects of that decision carry over to Monday night’s matchup against the Cowboys. In some cases, these sorts of events can begin to snowball, and the Titans have to do everything in their power to keep that from happening.
We have to go with what we know about both teams. First, Tennessee hasn’t been very good. As tough as that may be to hear for Titans fans, it’s simply the truth.
The other thing is how impressive Dallas has looked at home this season. During their last home game, the Cowboys dismantled a pretty good Jaguars team 40-7 while starting to show signs of life. That didn’t translate to success on the road the next week against Washington, but that won't matter for this game.
This is expected to be a low scoring game (over/under is 40 points), so don’t look for any sort of fireworks. The Cowboys will be able to cover the spread while getting back to .500.
Prediction: Cowboys 23, Titans 14
— Written by Clint Lamb, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @ClintRLamb.