Winless Against Spread, Dallas Cowboys Turn to Rookie Quarterback

Posted on: November 1, 2020, 06:39h. 

Last updated on: November 1, 2020, 09:34h.

In an up-and-down start to the NFL season for sportsbooks, one thing they could count on was help from the disappointing Dallas Cowboys.

Dallas Cowboys QB Ben DiNucci
Rookie third-string quarterback Ben DiNucci will make his first NFL start when the Dallas Cowboys play at the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night. (Image: Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports)

Under new coach Mike McCarthy, the Cowboys entered the season as solid favorites in the NFC East and as low as +1,200 to win the Super Bowl. Even after starting quarterback Dak Prescott sustained a broken ankle, the Cowboys remained the pick to win the division.

Instead, the Dallas start to the season has only gotten worse.

Cowboys Huge Underdogs

The Cowboys enter Sunday night’s game at the Philadelphia Eagles with a 2-5 record. Not only is Prescott out, but veteran backup Andy Dalton will miss the game with a concussion. So, with rookie Ben DiNucci thrust into the lineup at quarterback, and with the NFL’s worst scoring defense, the Cowboys are 11-point underdogs.

The game opened at 7.5.

The game being pushed this high is all about DiNucci,” said Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, to

The Cowboys haven’t been underdogs of 11-plus points since 2010 against the New York Giants. With Jon Kitna starting for injured Tony Romo that day, Dallas won 33-20.

The Cowboys are the only team in the NFL that’s winless against the number. That’s meant some easy money for sportsbooks.

Yeah, you know, American’s team,” Avello said, with a laugh. “People bet them quite often. The Cowboys are 0-7 against the spread, and the bettors have probably had it with the Cowboys because they don’t have a cover and they’re actually burning their money.

“There were much higher expectations for this team. The betting public believed the Cowboys would win the NFC East and contend for the Super Bowl. But that’s not the case right now. They’re life and death to get maybe six wins this year. That’s the funny part about the division. Six wins could possibly win it.”

He’s right. The Eagles are in first place with a 2-4-1 record, the Washington Football Team and Cowboys are 2-5, and the New York Giants are 1-6. Of the teams’ combined seven wins, five have come in divisional games. Combined, they’ve been outscored by 184 points.

Who is Ben DiNucci?

DiNucci was a seventh-round draft pick out of James Madison, which isn’t exactly a football factory. In fact, he’s the only quarterback in school history to even play in an NFL game, let alone start one. As a senior, he led FCS with a completion rate of 70.9 percent, threw 29 touchdowns vs. six interceptions, and added 569 rushing yards and seven more scores. He wasn’t even on the active roster for the Cowboys’ first five games of the season.

“For me, this is an opportunity of a lifetime,” DiNucci said in a Thursday Zoom call with reporters. “As a rookie and a seventh-rounder coming in, you see Dak and Andy at the top of the depth chart, and it’s like, ‘There’s no chance that I’m going to be on the field this year.’ But hey, it is 2020. What else do you expect?”

At DraftKings, his over/unders are 210.5 passing yards (-112 on both sides of the line) and 1.5 touchdowns (+190 on the over, -245 on the under). In a head-to-head matchup against Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, Wentz is -215 to have more passing yards, compared to +170 for DiNucci.