SNF Pick: Minnesota Vikings vs. Dallas Cowboys
Minnesota Vikings (6-3 SU, 5-4 ATS) vs. Dallas Cowboys (3-3 SU, 3-3 ATS)
Date/Time: Sunday, November 10, 8:20 EST
Where: AT&T Stadium, Dallas
Point Spread: Min +3 / Dal -3 (MyBookie)
Over/Under Total: 47.5
Dallas is the site of this week’s Sunday Night Football matchup featuring the Minnesota Vikings and the hometown Cowboys. Sportsbooks have made the line at Dallas 3 point favorites, and the point total at 47½ for this game. Let’s take the three points with road dogs on Sunday Night. Here is the handicap.
Minnesota Will Rebound From Last Week’s Loss
The Vikings limped out of the gate to start their season winning only 2 of their first four games but followed that up with four straight wins, both straight up and against the spread. They stubbed their toe last week in Arrowhead against a Chief team less star QB Patrick Mahomes. Minnesota couldn’t get their running game going, and for only the second time this year couldn’t get over the 100 yard mark. Kirk Cousins struggled after Adam Thielen went down in the first quarter. I look for a rebound effort from the Viking offense in Dallas. Dalvin Cook leads the league in rushing, is averaging right at 100 yards per game by himself, and tacking on 35 yards per game in the passing game. Cousins is having another good statistical year but has had some moments to make us remember that we should be careful trusting him with our money. Cousins will be without Thielen again this week, making Stefon Diggs the go-to guy for Cousins Diggs has proven himself very capable in that role with over 450 yards in a three-game stretch prior to the Chiefs game. Minnesota’s offense ran into a buzz saw last week in the KC defense and should have an easier matchup this week.
Dallas defense has performed much like Cousins, they have some pretty good stats, but have also put up a few duds. They allowed the Packers 34 points, then let the Jets go for almost 400 yards and 24 points in a loss in New York. The strength of the Cowboy defense is their linebacker group, which should include Leighton Vander Esch this week after he missed the Giant game nursing a neck injury. Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith have the speed to cover the field and run down Cook and back up RB Alexander Mattison. Dallas defense is 11th in the league at rushing yards allowed per game and is only 17th in sacks. Their defensive line has not been overly impressive, but they added perennial all-star Michael Bennett last week, which will fortify the line. The battle between the Cowboys defensive line against the Viking offensive line will be the key to this game. The Vikings O-line got outplayed last week, so I look for them to bounce back and win this battle in the trenches. If they give Cook some room to run and Cousins enough time to work downfield, Minnesota will be hard for the Cowboys to beat.
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Prescott and the Dallas Offense Will Struggle
Jason Garrett and Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore have had a lot of success this year. They lead the league in yards per play and are 4th in both passing yards per game and rushing yards per game. But if we look closer, seven or the eight defenses the Cowboys have faced have been either bottom ten defenses or defenses that had significant injuries and played like bottom ten defenses. The only above-average defense Dallas has faced been the Saints, who held Dallas to 257 total yards and 15 points. Dallas has converted 50% of their 3rd downs this year, but only 37% against New Orleans. Ezekiel Elliott has shown no ill effect of sitting out training camp, averaging 4.7 yards per carry and 22 receiving yards per game. Amari Cooper has continued to play at a high level since moving to Big D last year and should be fully healthy this week after missing the week eight game with a hamstring. Dallas has the weapons and a top-notch offensive line that has controlled games against weaker opponents such as the Dolphins, Giants, and beat up Eagles.
I expect the Viking defense to more resemble the Saints than the Dolphin or Giants. Minnesota allows only 5.2 yards per play, but most importantly are 6th in the league with 26 sacks. The Vikings front four are one of the few defensive lines that can go toe to toe with Dallas offensive line. Mike Zimmer is one of the best defensive minds in the league and will have some pressure packages ready for Sunday. Minnesota should be able to control Elliott on the early downs and then pressure Prescott on the money downs. The Vikings rank 6th with 14 takeaways, and Prescott has already thrown eight picks, so I look for the Viking defense to turn the ball over and give Cousins and the offense some favorable field position. I like the Viking defense to be stingy against the Dallas offense and limit the scoring chances and points the Cowboys put up.
Zimmer Will Outcoach Garrett
Since Zimmer took over as the Viking coach in 2014, his Vikings have covered the spread at a 62% rate, including a 15-11 record as a road underdog. Since Garrett took over as the Dallas coach, his Cowboys have covered the spread in 49% of the games, including only 40% in home games. These two teams are very similar; both have strong running games and quarterbacks that run hot and cold. The 3 point line favoring the home team implies the teams are basically even, so we should expect this to be a close game throughout. Zimmer has a history of having his team ready for these contests, and Garrett has a history of his teams underperforming. With the loss last week in KC, the Vikings will be laser-focused to right the ship Dallas. On the other hand, Dallas visited their division rival in New York and completed a sweep of the Giants. This would be a classic let down spot for Dallas.
Play the Road Dogs +3
The play on Sunday Night Football is to take the Vikings and the field goal. We get the better coach, defense, and 3 points. I would also lean to the under in this game.
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