The eyes of football fans worldwide will be on AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX when Mike Zimmer and the Minnesota Vikings (6-3) take the field to do battle with Jason Garrett’s Dallas Cowboys (5-3) at 8:20 p.m. ET.
Oddsmaker consider the Vikings and Cowboys to be equal and that is why the spread, opening and holding steady, is three points in favor of America’s Team. As is well known, homefield advantage is worth exactly a field goal.
The underdog Vikings, however, are taking 64% of money line bets and 56% of bets against the spread. The total opened at 47 and has moved up to 48 on the strength of 64% of total betting landing on over.
Just three weeks ago, the Cowboys lost to the Jets (1-7), a team so bad they leave millions of fans marveling at just how good they are at being terrible. Spare us the Any Given Sunday line. Where smoke exists, there is also fire.
Don’t let the 5-3 record fool you into thinking this is the same team that rode a hot defense into the playoffs last year. Two of those wins are against the New York Giants (2-7), a team in the running for the biggest laughing stock in the NFL. Two more were against the Miami Dolphins (1-7) and Washington Redskins (1-8). Their fifth win was against the Philadelphia Eagles (5-4).
Prescott and Elliott have been shut down before
Dallas has the NFL’s number one offense which churns out 436.8 ypg. A deeper look would support the statement “As goes Ezekiel Elliott, so goes the chances of the Cowboys”. He is playing well, but a quick check of his game logs show two games, losses to New Orleans and the Jets, where he was definitively contained.
The only time ‘the Boys have played a defense as good as the seventh ranked unit they face this week was against the fifth ranked Saints who held them to 10 points. If the VIkings can slow down Elliott then the Cowboys might do very little scoring in this game.
For his part, Dak Prescott did little to nothing right in his teams three losses this year, games in which he owns a 2-4 TD/INT ratio. Prescott has shown a tendency to fall apart when playing better teams.
Vikings will rely on a steady diet of Dalvin Cook
While Elliott is one of the league’s prized RBs, it is Dalvin Cook who leads the NFL in rushing. His 894 yards from scrimmage and 5.1 ypc means he is the type of player Zimmer can count on to take the pressure off QB Kirk Cousins, a player more than capable of burning opposing defenses if some reason Cook has an “off day”.
Cousins has a particularly impressive 16-3 TD/INT ratio this year. Only the Seahawks, Chiefs and Packers have thrown fewer picks this season. Winning in the NFL requires winning the turnover battle and you can at least count on Cousins to limit mistakes.
Our Pick – Vikings +3