The Dallas Cowboys will look to extend their league-high win streak to 11 games when they travel up to Minnesota to face the Vikings on Thursday night. Both teams last played on Thanksgiving Day, meaning they will have their normal time to prepare for the game. Kickoff is set for 8:25 p.m. ET, and the game will be televised on NBC.
Dallas (10-1) won its franchise-record 10th straight game by holding off the Washington Redskins 31-26 on November 24. In the meanwhile, Minnesota (6-5) is coming off a disappointing 16-13 loss to the Detroit Lions. The Vikings have lost five of six games, with the lone win coming against the Arizona Cardinals on November 21.
The Cowboys and Vikings will be meeting for the 30th time ever. The Cowboys won the last meeting 27-23, which occurred on November 3, 2013, and hold a 15-14 lead in the series. Dallas is also 9-7 in games in Minnesota, although the Vikings have won the past five matchups at home.
Neither Sam Bradford or Dak Prescott will throw an interception
Both Bradford and Prescott have done a whale of a job protecting the ball for the Vikings and Cowboys, respectively.
Bradford, the second most accurate passer in the NFL, is completing 71.3 percent of his passes for 242 yards and has thrown just three interceptions in 348 passes (.86 percentage). However, the 29-year-old was picked off twice in the last three games.
Bradford has a history of throwing interceptions; he tossed 55 interceptions in 73 career games. More concerning is that Bradford is prone to fumbling as he has done so six times in 10 games.
Prescott ranks sixth in the league in completion percentage (67.9 percent) and fourth in passer rating (108.6). Prescott is averaging 258 yards per game through the air to go along with 18 touchdowns and two interceptions in 340 attempts (.58 percentage). The 23-year-old has not thrown an interception in the past four games. Like Bradford, Prescott is prone to fumbling as he has been charged with six this year.
Minnesota has one of the best pass defenses in the league, allowing 207 yards and 13 touchdowns. Additionally, the Vikings are a very opportunistic defense; they have 12 interceptions, which is the third most in the league. Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes are one of the best cornerback duos in the NFL this season. Rhodes leads the team with four picks, returning one for a touchdown, and nine passes defensed. Waynes has two interceptions and seven passes defensed, while safety Andrew Sendejo also has recorded two interceptions.
Dallas is giving up 280 yards through the air and has four interceptions. Opposing quarterbacks have recorded a 101.9 passer rating against the Cowboys.
Cowboys’ running back Ezekiel Elliott will rush for 100-yards
As impressive as Prescott has been, Elliott has been better. The Ohio State product leads the league in rushing yards (1,199) and yards per game (109.0). He is also second in the league with 11 touchdowns.
Elliott has been held barely short of the century mark the last two games, accumulating 97 yards on the ground in both games against Baltimore and Washington. He has produced nine straight games of at least 90 yards on the ground and has five 100-yard performances. In addition, Elliott has 10 runs of 20 or more yards.
Minnesota is allowing 100.2 yards a game on the ground as they are allowing 4.2 yards per carry. The Vikings have allowed five teams to rush for 100 or more yards, including four of their last six opponents. David Johnson (Arizona) and Jordan Howard (Chicago) are the only two backs to top the century mark on the ground.
Minnesota will record more sacks than Dallas
The game may end up being decided by which defense makes more big plays. Both teams have stingy defenses, with the Vikings giving up the second fewest points (17.5) and the Cowboys are sixth in the league surrendering 19.4 points a game.
The real difference is that the Vikings have more “big-time” playmakers and are able to get to the quarterback due to their terrific defensive line. The Vikes have recorded the seventh most sacks in the league with 28 for a league-high 220 yards. Defensive end Danielle Hunter is a dangerous end rusher, accumulating a team-high 7.5 sacks this year and 13.5 in his two-year career. Hunter has registered 3.5 sacks over the last three games.
Hunter is one of seven Vikings with multi-sack campaigns. Fellow defensive ends Everson Griffen (6.0) and Brian Robison (5.0) are second and third on the team. Safety Harrison Smith, linebacker Anthony Bar, and defensive tackle Tom Johnson has two sacks apiece.
Dallas’ offensive line is one of the best, allowing 15 sacks and 40 quarterback hits. Prescott has been sacked four times and hit a total of nine times over the last three games.
Dallas has 20 sacks this year. Defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford leads the team with 3.5 sacks, but he has not registered one in four games. Dallas wasn’t able to get to the Redskins’ Kirk Cousins last week and has two sacks in the past three games.
The Vikings o-line has been terrible this year, permitting 26 sacks along with 75 quarterback hits. The Vikes did not allow a sack to Detroit on Thanksgiving, although they have allowed seven over the past four games.
The Vikings will upset the Cowboys
Dallas is currently favored by 2.5 points, per Oddsshark.
Dallas has been playing extremely well while Minnesota has struggled lately. The Vikings need the game more than the Cowboys. Minnesota is a game behind the Detroit Lions in the NFC North and a half-game out of the sixth and final playoff spot.
With a victory, Dallas can essentially punch their playoff ticket. The Cowboys own a two-game lead over the New York Giants in the NFC East. They also hold a 3.5-game lead over the sixth place Redskins.
Minnesota is 4-1 at home this season, outscoring their opponents 118-83. Dallas is a perfect 5-0 on the road, outscoring their opponents 151-96.
[Featured Image by Roger Steinman/AP Images]