What experts are predicting for Sunday’s Patriots-Cowboys game


The Patriots are 6.5-point underdogs for Sunday’s game and many expect them to fall to the 2-1 Cowboys.

Dak Prescott goes up against the Patriots for the third time in his career on Sunday. Winslow Townson/AP Images

The last time these two teams met served as a litmus test of sorts for the New England Patriots. 

There was a lot to like about the way they played the Dallas Cowboys in 2021, a 35-29 overtime loss that displayed some of the grit that might have been growing within the team, not to mention its deficiencies as well. In just his sixth professional game, Mac Jones showed fire after throwing a costly pick-6, leading the Patriots back in a game that they should have won. 

As if to affirm that, the Patriots started their seven-game winning streak the next week against (who else?) the Jets. 

Those 2021 Pats didn’t have a much better start to the season over the first four games. They lost a nail-biter to the Dolphins. They fell to the defending Super Bowl champs (Buccaneers). They beat the Jets. 

Two years later, the 2023 Pats find themselves 1-2 after losing a nail-biter to the Dolphins in Foxborough and a game they should have won against the defending NFC champion Eagles if not for a rookie’s foot. They beat the Jets. 

So, might the 2023 edition give us a similar show? As unimpressive as the Patriots offense has shown itself to be (for a second-straight season), it wasn’t much better over the first month in 2021 either. It’s hard to imagine any offensive explosion coming Sunday in Dallas because we’ve seen little evidence that it’s a possibility. 

Good news is, the Jets are back on the schedule on Jan. 7. 

This week’s predictions:

Dallas Morning News staff: Everybody picks Dallas straight-up. Six of the 10 pick the Patriots vs. the spread (Dallas -7). 

Greg Cote, Miami Herald: Cowboys 23, Patriots 18. “Ezekiel Elliott returns as a Patriot to face his longtime former team, but it’ll take more than Double E to fashion a major upset. Dallas defense takes huge hit with season injury loss of CB Trevon Diggs but has the talent (and incentive) to bounce back from that stunning face-slap loss to Arizona. Boys have won nine in a row at home, but Pats won past two trips to Big D and are getting a lot of points for what seems a defensive matchup.” 

Globe Staff: Split (Patriots +6.5)

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Cowboys 23, Patriots 9. “The Pats are playing consecutive road games after beating the Jets last week, while the Cowboys are coming off a horrible loss to the Cardinals. That loss will get the Cowboys back on track, especially on defense. The Pats won’t be able to get much offense going, but the Cowboys will get enough. It’s low scoring, but the Cowboys win it.”

CBS Sports staff: Six of eight like New England (+6.5). 

Jimmy Kempski, Philly Voice: Cowboys (-7). “I think the Cowboys should/will win this game after their bad Week 3 loss to the Cardinals, but that 7-point spread feels high.”

ESPN staff: All Cowboys. 

Frank Schwab, Yahoo! Sports: Patriots (+6.5). “I can see the Patriots defense keeping this close. I don’t know what to make of what happened with the Cowboys in Arizona last week. It wasn’t some fluky turnover-fueled upset. The Cardinals outplayed them. Maybe Dallas just needed a wake-up call, but this spread seems inflated.”

Sheil Kapadia, The Ringer: Patriots (+6.5). “I believe in both defenses here and think we get a relatively low-scoring game. I can’t shake the image of Bill Belichick on one sideline and Mike McCarthy on the other. I know the Cowboys are more talented and better offensively, but give me the points.”

USA Today staff: Cowboys across the board. 

SB Nation staff: All Dallas. 

Vinnie Iyer, The Sporting News: Cowboys 23, Patriots 20. “The Patriots come in with an up-and-down offense but rather reliable defense against limited attacks. They should try to wear down the Cowboys first with Rhamondre Stevenson and Ezekiel Elliott, with the latter returning to Dallas for a revenge game. Bill Belichick can scheme contain the run and CeeDee Lamb enough to make it interesting vs. a slumping Dak Prescott. The Cowboys’ pass defense will need to save the day late vs. Mac Jones.”

Bill Bender, The Sporting News: Cowboys 28, Patriots 24. “The Cowboys were brought back to Earth in a brutal loss at Arizona, and the Patriots picked up their first victory of the season. That was on the road. Prescott will be more comfortable at home, and the Patriots are averaging just 17.3 points per game. The Cowboys lead the NFL with a +6 turnover differential, and that always matters against Bill Belichick.”

Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk: Cowboys 28, Patriots 20. 

Chris Simms, Pro Football Talk: Cowboys 24, Patriots 21.

Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times: Cowboys 23, Patriots 18. “As with Denver, Dallas was embarrassed last week. This figures to be a fairly low-scoring game, considering the defenses. But QB Dak Prescott and the Cowboys offense have the edge at home.”

It says here: Cowboys 17, Patriots 10. There’s going to be a week when it begins to click for the Patriots. This isn’t that week.