With two straight wins in the NFL showcase of prime time, can the Dallas Cowboys continue their mojo and earn another much-needed victory?
Sunday Night Football (SNF) on NBC this week features your Dallas Cowboys at home hosting the Minnesota Vikings. This will be the Cowboys third straight prime time game, but certainly not their last of the season.
After losing their first SNF on NBC game against the New Orleans Saints, Dallas has fared well under the night lights. The Cowboys beat Philadelphia 37-10 prior to the bye week. Just last week, on Monday Night Football, Dallas beat another divisional opponent in the New York Giants 37-18.
Neither the Eagles nor the Giants, however, pose as big of a threat as the Vikings. Minnesota is on a roll right now, winning four of their last five games. At 6-3, Minnesota is just one game behind Green Bay for the division lead. They also happen to be the current sixth seed in the NFC playoff picture.
All of this is the long way to say Minnesota is what you would consider a “good” team. For the Cowboys, they still have yet to prove themselves against a “good” team. Dallas has just one win against a team with a winning record so far in 2019.
Obviously, they will need to be more proficient at beating these types of teams in order to have the type of success they desire. The Dallas Cowboys have five more regular-season games against teams with winning records. If they move on to the playoffs, every team they will face will have one as well.
Before we look into the future though, we must focus on the task at hand. Statistically, Dallas and Minnesota are very similar. Offensively, both are in the top five in rushing. Defensively, the Cowboys are sixth in total yards allowed, while Minnesota is eighth. They are both in the top ten in passing and rushing yards allowed and top five in points allowed.
Both teams will have similar game plans coming into this game. For Dallas, they will want to focus on limiting the damage Minnesota running back Dalvin Cook does as a dual-threat. Cook leads the entire NFL in rushing yards, amassing almost 900 yards while adding another 338 receiving.
Minnesota, meanwhile, will try to find a way to stop the hot streak Cowboys’ running back Ezekiel Elliott is on. Zeke has three straight 100+ yard games while scoring at least one touchdown in four of his last five.
Whichever team is most successful on the ground will have a huge advantage. It is likely more imperative Dallas shuts down Cook, however, as the Vikings passing attack will be limited.
Minnesota will be without the services of Pro Bowl receiver Adam Thielen. Dealing with a hamstring issue, Thielen will be sitting out this game as the past two have featured him leaving early without returning. This uncertainty has left Minnesota down to one viable threat in the passing game. That threat, however, is a big one.
The Vikings still possess another Pro Bowl wideout in Stefon Diggs. All Diggs has done so far is catch 38 balls for over 700 yards receiving. His big-play ability has been prominent with thirteen catches going for 20+ yards.
Cook and Diggs will certainly be square in the Cowboys’ crosshairs defensively, but this game will likely come down to two things.
Can Dallas, owners of the league’s most prolific offense when it comes to gaining yards, continue their success against a stout Vikings defense? Also, can their defensive line make quarterback Kirk Cousins uncomfortable enough that he makes mistakes that they can capitalize upon?
Dallas will need its stars to shine at night to keep their prime time mojo heading in the right direction. Quarterback Dak Prescott and receiver Amari Cooper will need a few splash plays. Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence will need to pressure Cousins early and often.
Will the Dallas Cowboys come up big under the bright lights or continue to fulfill the narrative of their inabilities to beat good teams? Something tells me that Dallas will be up to the challenge.
Prediction: Vikings 20, Cowboys 24