The Dallas Cowboys have done a pretty good job this season not looking ahead.
The week before they played the San Francisco 49ers, the Cowboys blasted the New England Patriots, 38-3. Before their first game against the Philadelphia Eagles this season, the Cowboys beat the Los Angeles Rams, 43-20.
Just because the Cowboys haven't overlooked opponents earlier this season doesn't mean it can't happen. It's human nature. On top of the Eagles game, which could end up deciding the NFC East (especially if the Eagles lose to the 49ers on Sunday), the Cowboys take on the Buffalo Bills in Week 15. It would be easy for their minds to wander.
The Seahawks would have been another marquee opponent on the schedule until recently. They lost to the Rams and then got absolutely rocked by the 49ers on Thanksgiving. Playmaking running back Kenneth Walker III is likely to miss another game. Other key players are playing through injuries. The Seahawks are 6-5 and their season is in peril. That might make them dangerous, however.
Seattle has six games left, and four of them are against the Cowboys, 49ers, Eagles and Steelers. They're in serious danger of falling out of the playoff field in a hurry. At some point the Seahawks are going to have to win a game they shouldn't, and they are aware of that.
Thursday night has a lot of playoff implications. The Cowboys can't get caught sleeping and dreaming about the biggest game in their season that is next on the schedule.
Here's the first look at the sports betting slate for Thursday:
9 games in the NBA
The biggest game in the NBA could be the Los Angeles Lakers at the Oklahoma City Thunder. OKC is off to a good 11-6 start, and the Thunder face a Lakers team coming off a blowout win over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night. The Thunder are favored by 5.5 and that might not be enough.
There's another interesting matchup with the Indiana Pacers at the Miami Heat. The Pacers were perhaps the most surprising team to make the in-season tournament knockout round. They're a team that doesn't play much defense but can score in a hurry. The Heat are 2.5-point favorites.
Mid-major game highlights college hoops
There have been some good college basketball matchups this week with the ACC/SEC Challenge going on, but it's a mid-major game that is the best on the schedule. Liberty, which is 6-0, takes on Florida Atlantic. FAU, of course, made the Final Four last season and won the ESPN Events Invitational this season. FAU is 5-1 with a weird loss to Bryant on its ledger. FAU is a 7.5-point favorite. We'll see what Liberty — which will be a popular upset pick when the brackets come out in a few months — is all about this season against a quality opponent.
What's the best bet?
The Cowboys are 8-3 against the spread this season. The three losses are against the two best opponents they've faced, the 49ers and Eagles, and their weird blip against the Arizona Cardinals. That means they're blasting the bad teams they play and usually covering against them. The question is, are the Seahawks bad? They have been the past couple weeks. They're not a good road team, while the Cowboys have been dominant at home. I also think you're getting a Seahawks team that is generally well coached and knows its season is slipping away. The line seems just a touch too high. I'll go Seattle, though there is Cowboys blowout potential here.