The 6-3 Minnesota Vikings travel to AT&T Stadium to take on the 5-3 Dallas Cowboys. Both teams have have one win against an opponent with a winning record, it was the same opponent, the Eagles. Both teams are fairly evenly matched, let’s look at their season ranks on offense and defense:
|NFL RANK||TOT OFF||PASS||RUN||PPG||3D%||RZ%||SCOR%||AVG. RANK|
|NFL RANK||TOT DEF||PASS D||RUN D||PPG ALL||3D%||RZ%||SCOR%||AVG. RANK|
When the Vikings have the ball
Stop Dalvin Cook
The Vikings come in with the NFL’s leading rusher, Dalvin Cook. Cook has 894 rushing yards on 177 carries, he averages five yards per carry, and 99.3 yards per game. The Cowboys defense has given up two 100-yard rushing performances, Saquon Barkley in week one (one carry was 59 yards) and Aaron Jones in week five. Dallas has only played one top-10 rushing offense, the Eagles in week seven. Dallas just held Barkley to 28 rushing yards this past Monday, which shows an improvement with the addition of Michael Bennett. However, this week’s opponent is a different animal. The Vikings are a the second-ranked rushing offense, which will certainly be a test for the Cowboys.
When the Cowboys have the ball
Avoid slow starts
It’s been the tale of the season for the Cowboys but against good teams, they cannot start slow and expect to win. The Cowboys are only being outscored by opponents in one quarter this season, the first quarter. Dak Prescott and company need to get a hot start, which will be difficult against a very good defense like the Vikings. The Cowboys defense has been really good at holding onto their leads, so give them one, offense! If the Cowboys can convert their first drive into points instead of empty yardage, they can build upon that. Time to put the slow starts behind them and get off on a good foot.
Now let’s see what the front page writers think...
Dallas will make it three in a row on Sunday night as they take down the Minnesota Vikings. Dalvin Cook may be the best back in football, but there is just no reason to trust Vikings’ quarterback Kirk Cousins in a big game. Dallas has dominated Cousins in his career and that continues Sunday. Zeke outperforms Cook and Dak outperforms Cousins, leading to a Dallas win. Cowboys 28, Vikings 24
The Dallas defensive line continues to impress, wreaking havoc on the Vikings passing game. This leads to 2+ turnovers, several 3-and-outs and some short fields for the Cowboys offense. That unit does what it has done all season: move the ball effectively and put points on the board. Dallas leads throughout and puts them away late. Cowboys 26, Vikings 13
This has the makings of a primetime thriller and both teams come into this game with plenty to prove. At the end of the day though, I think it comes down to QB play. Dak Prescott thrives in primetime games, while Kirk Cousins does the exact opposite. I’ll take the Cowboys 24-21.
The Vikings are going to be a much tougher test than the Giants, but a couple of Kirk Cousins stats jump out: His record as a starter against the Cowboys is 1-6, and per Newy Scruggs, 6-28 against teams with a winning record. The first was of course while he helmed the pitiful Washington Dumpster Fires, but that second number includes his 25 games with Minnesota. I think the surging Dallas defense will handle him, and the way they shut down Saquon Barkley is not good news for Dalvin Cook, either. The Cowboys will have a good but not great day on offense, but it will be enough to notch a 27-17 win.
This is a statement opportunity for both teams and a chance to build on their standing in the NFC playoff picture. It seems we do this dance every time the Cowboys win a game, where we gain confidence that they’ll put it together. Well, I’m not nearly as sold as my colleagues here because I’m going to need to see much more before I pick the Cowboys to win a statement game. They lost to a Saints’ team without Drew Brees, got smoked by Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, and lost to the Jets?! I think the Cowboys start slow once again and run out of time to complete the comeback. By the time they awaken, Dalvin Cook has delivered some damage. Give me Minnesota 28, Dallas 24.
The Vikings are the toughest team the Cowboys have seen all year. Will they be up for the challenge? It’s tough to say, but this Cowboys team is slowly getting it together. This one won’t be easy though as both defenses will shine in this one. There will be some big plays that will result in touchdowns, but ultimately it will come down to which defense makes the big stops at critical moments in the game. I’m betting on the ‘Boys unit getting it done on Sunday night. Maher one-ups former Cowboys legendary kicker Dan Bailey to pull out the victory. Cowboys 23, Vikings 20.