Week 13 of the 2016 NFL schedule officially kicks off tonight when the Dallas Cowboys take on the Minnesota Vikings in a key NFC matchup. With the NFL playoff picture getting more complex by the week, every game has become more important than the last.
For the Dallas Cowboys, a win tonight could be the icing on the cake. A victory would put the ‘Boys at 11-1 and basically sew up a playoff position and strengthen their odds of winning the NFC East. However, a win may not be as easy for Dallas as experts believe. The Vikings are at home, they are desperate, and for all intents and purposes, every game from here on out is a playoff game for the 6-5 for the Vikings.
Minnesota started the season like a team on a mission but now they seem like a team who is ready to post the white surrender flag. After starting the 2016 season 5-0, the Vikings have lost five of their last six games and they are barely holding on for a shot at a wild-card position.
It’s going to be a tall order for the Minnesota defense this evening to slow down Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and the high-powered Dallas offense tonight.
The once dominating defense of the Vikings has looked more like Swiss cheese over the last month, and now they are up against arguably the best offense they will have faced so far this season.
According to SB Nation, Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott is being hailed by many as the best running back to enter the league since Adrian Peterson. Kind of an ironic twist for the Vikings, who were hoping for big things out of Peterson this season before he went down with what looked to be a season-ending torn lateral meniscus injury.
Reports have been coming out of late indicating Petersen could return this season, however, would it be worth the risk if the Vikings are out of the playoff race? Definitely not.
All the Vikings are focused on is tonight’s game.
Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer knows that the key to winning tonight will be to contain Ezekiel Elliott, who is on a pace to gain 1,500 plus yards in his rookie campaign.
“Well, he’s one of the better backs I’ve seen in quite a while,” Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer said. “He’s really an all-purpose guy that catches the ball very well out of the backfield. He’s quick into the hole; looks like he’s got great vision… He’s special.”
The Cowboys are third in the league in scoring, averaging a gaudy 28.7 points per game. They also average 407.6 yards per game. Even while losing five of six, Minnesota’s defense has allowed the second-fewest points per game at 17.5, and they rank third overall in total defense, giving up 307 yards per game.
The problem is that the Vikings offense has been too inconsistent of late, putting too much pressure on the defense to step up every time they are on the field.
Sam Bradford has to play better than he did last week vs. the Detroit Lions for Minnesota to have a shot at winning tonight.
Las Vegas odds makers have Dallas listed as a 3.5 point favorite, with the over/under number 44.5.
So can the Vikings upset the Cowboys tonight at home? Sure they can, at least with the point spread. The Vikings are a great team as a home underdog and at +3.5 points, they look like the play here.
Pick – Minnesota +3.5
Tonight’s game will air live on NBC nationally at 8:20 p.m. ET. You can also catch every down streaming live online through NBC Sports.com. Fans on the go can watch the game on their tablets or smartphones by downloading the NBC Sports App.
[Featured Image by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images]