The 5-3 Dallas Cowboys need a win on Sunday Night Football to stay ahead of the Philadelphia Eagles atop the NFC East. But the Cowboys are only 2 1/2 point favorites at home when they host the 6-3 Minnesota Vikings, according to USA Today Sports Book Wire.
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins has posted a 127.1 passer rating over the past five games, even with last week's disappointing loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, which snapped a four-game winning streak for Minnesota. But the Sunday Night Football matchup appears more likely to center around a bruising ground-game contest between the Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliot, last season's NFL rushing yardage leader, and the Vikings' Dalvin Cook.
Cook currently tops the league with 894 yards on the ground, according to Vikings website.
Elliot has accumulated 741 yards so far this season, an average of 4.7 per carry. Cook averages 5.1 each time he runs the ball. Last season, the Cowboys' running back made his first Pro Bowl with 1,434 yards rushing.
A win for Minnesota would allow the Vikings to keep pace with the NFC North-leading Green Bay Packers, who were matched against the underdog Carolina Panthers in a game played earlier on Sunday.
If the Panthers pull off the upset in that game, a win over Dallas would move the Vikings into a tie with Green Bay at 6-3. But the Packers currently hold the tiebreaker with a win over Minnesota in Week 2.
Watch a preview of the Sunday Night Football matchup, courtesy of NFL.com, in the video below.Historically, the two teams have been nearly evenly matched. Dallas has won 16 of the 30 games between the two teams dating back to 1961, with 14 wins for the Vikings. The matchup this season appears to another close one.
On defense, the Cowboys rank fifth in the league in points allowed per game at 17.8. The Vikings are only a little better at 17.6, fourth in the NFL. On offense, the Cowboys have scored 28.4 points per game, fifth in the NFL. The Vikings rank 11th, but with only 2.4 fewer points scored per game by the offense.
The Vikings offense received a setback for Sunday's game when the team ruled out wide receiver Adam Thielen with a hamstring injury, according to an ESPN report. Thielen's six touchdown receptions lead the Vikings. His average of 14.5 yards per reception has made the wide receiver a potent partner for Stefon Diggs, whose 18.7 yard per catch would be the best of his five-year career.
All three of the Vikings losses have come on the road, where they have won just twice. As for Dallas at home this season, their only loss at AT&T Stadium came in Week 5 against Green Bay.