Dallas will open up the preseason tonight in Oakland in a preview of the teams' regular season match-up, which will take place on Thanksgiving day in the friendly confines of Jerry World.
Unless something near-catastrophic happens, Dallas will win that game (after last year though, I won't discount catastrophe). But thirsty gamblers/ Cowboys fans with a penchant for betting like a fan might want to avoid this one, for several reasons, not the least of which is that it is the preseason, after all.
According to bookmaker.com, Oakland opened as the one point favorite on the spread. If this was the regular season, this might be an intolerable affront to Dallas. Being the preseason though, it is actually a nod to Dallas as the more experienced team with less questions that need answering. It's also telling of where the Raiders are, as the home team in preseason is usually favored by a field goal.
Jamarcus Russell will have to prove he deserves the starting job over newcomer Jeff Garcia, one of three veteran quarterbacks on the roster, including Charlie Frye and Bruce "Remember Me?" Gradkowski. With Garcia out with a strained calf, Frye and Gradkowski will get the lion's share of the snaps for Oakland. Tom Cable, the Raiders' head coach who was retained after replacing Lane Kiffin last year, said that he will be watching this battle closely.
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For Dallas, Romo will give way to Kitna after what should be a limited appearance; much like Garcia, Kitna is the firm no. 2 for the team. The later game will be run mostly by Texas A&M product Stephen McGee and then Arizona State's Rudy Carpenter.
The fact that Dallas as a team, and no doubt their fans, will be intrigued by questions on offense, such as: (a) how will running snaps be distributed between Smash, Dash and Tash ? (b) how will Romo and Williams look as a tandem ? And (c) what will the offense look like with the supposed proliferation of the two-tight end set?
However, those will be questions confined exclusively to the first half. As, in all likelihood, will be questions on defense, how Keith Brooking, Gerald Sensabaugh and Igor Olshansky will fit in, and so forth. This makes the ultimate outcome of the game predictably irrelevant. It also makes gambling on, or picking a winner in this game, a complete and utter crapshoot.
That said, I've never been one to shy away from wildly irresponsible gambling and/or prognosticating, so here it is: Dallas 14, Oakland 13; Cowboys win and cover the spread. See you at the bookmakers.