Dallas Cowboys (1-3 SU, 1-3 ATS) vs. Minnesota Vikings (1-3 SU, 1-3 ATS), Week 6 NFL, 4:15 p.m. EST, Sunday, October 16, Metrodome (Artificial Turf), Minneapolis Minn., TV: FOX
by Jeff Hochman of JHSportsline.com
Betting Odds: Dal +1.5/Min -1.5
Over/Under Total: 43.5
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Two teams with Super Bowl aspirations before the season started, meet in a rematch of last year's NFC Playoff game that saw the Vikings blowout the Cowboys 34-3 last January.
The Cowboys are doing a great job of finding ways to lose games. Dallas is 5-0 ITS (in the stats) this season, but they are the most penalized team in the league. They are also ranked last in creating turnovers and No.25 in Special Teams play. That is nothing new as the Cowboys have been one of the worst teams in takeaways over the last three seasons.
Dallas out-gained Tennessee 511-331, but lost 34-27 as 7-point home favorites. Tony Romo threw for a career-high 406 yards and three touchdowns, but committed three interceptions. Felix Jones gave the Cowboys its first 100-yards rusher, accumulating 109 yards on just 15 carries. Miles Austin continues his rise on top with nine receptions for 166 yards and one touchdown. It was another case of the Cowboys beating themselves. They committed 12 penalties for 133 yards. The last penalty called for excessive celebration really came back to haunt them, as the Titans were able to take advantage of the wide open field on the ensuing kick-off. You just can't win when you make that many mistakes.
The Vikings are coming off their 29-20 Monday Night loss, against the Jets as 4.5-point underdogs. Minnesota looked awful for most of the game, but did have a good chance to cover until Brett Favre threw one of his classic interceptions to seal the point-spread loss. On the bright side, Brett Fave threw for 264 yards and three touchdowns. On the negative side, Minnesota committed 8 penalties and three turnovers. The Vikings have no excuse to look that pitiful as they had two weeks to prepare. Team chemistry seems to be an issue with this team. Something to keep your eye on going forward.
The Cowboys had two weeks to work on their run defense, but allowed Chris Johnson to run for 131 yards on 19 carries. Dallas will need to improve in this area or Adrian Peterson will run wild. Dallas had success holding A.P. to just 63 yards on 26 attempts in last year's NFC Playoff game. Peterson is probably pissed-off coming off a mediocre performance on Monday Night Football. It won't get any easier for Dallas as they play the Giants and Jaguars in its next two games.
There is no question that the acquisition of Randy Moss is an immediate upgrade over the personnel they had at receiver. He should provide Favre that down-field receiver they have lacked so far this season. His presence will also open up the Vikings' run game even more. Moss should play the same role as Sidney Rice did last season. A lot of observers feel the Vikings are lacking chemistry. When teams win people always say they have good chemistry and when teams lose they say the exact opposite.
Brett Favre will now try to end his struggles against Dallas head coach Wade Phillips, who was able to devise schemes to defeat the quarterback both in a 2007 matchup and in a playoff contest following the 2002 season, when he was Atlanta's defensive coordinator. His most recent game against Favre and the Vikings was that blowout loss in last year's NFC Playoff game.
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The Cowboys have extra motivation in this game, and sooner or later teams that have out-gained every foe tend to start winning games. Minnesota is 3-2 in the stats, but only out-gained the Jets by 8 total yards.
This game features two quarterbacks heading in opposite directions. Tony Romo has a QB rating of 92.7 compared to 67.0 for Favre. Randy Moss should help improve Favre's QB rating. It has never been this low since his rookie season.
Minnesota is 10-1 SU in its last 11 games at home. Minnesota is 6-1 SU in its last 7 games when playing Dallas. This is a must win game for both teams and those trends are meaningless.
Jeff's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Dallas Cowboys +1.5 & Over 43.5.
This is the perfect trap line. Minnesota travels back home off a short week while the Cowboys had this game circled on their schedule since they lost to the Vikings last January. If Dallas can cut down on their penalties they should be able to win this game. That's a big IF! Keep your fingers crossed.
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