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Dallas Cowboys @ Minnesota Vikings (-3, 52.5)
October 31, 2021
8:20pm EST on NBC
The Dallas Cowboys are coming off a bye week and have won their last five games after losing opening night on a last second field goal. At 5-1 they are first in the NFC East, but enter play a 3-point underdog against the Vikings. Minnesota is 3-3 on the season, second in the NFC North. They have won their last two games and are 2-1 at home.
The big question for Dallas is the status of Dak Prescott, who threw for 445 yards in the 35-29 overtime win against New England. He also threw for three touchdowns, making it five times in six games. His status for the game is questionable due to a calf injury.
Entering the week, the Cowboys are first in both scoring and total yards from scrimmage. CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper, and tight end Dalton Schultz have combined for 94 catches, over 1300 yards and 11 touchdowns. If Prescott can’t play, the Cowboys may rely more on a run game that is averaging 164 yards per game behind Ezekiel Elliott’s 521 yards and five touchdowns and Tony Pollard’s 366 yards and six yards per carry.
The only negative about the Dallas offense is that they are tied for 24th in red zone efficiency, having scored touchdowns on a little over half of their opportunities.
On defense, Dallas is led by cornerback Trevon Diggs, who already has intercepted seven passes this season, returning two for touchdowns. He has been limited in practice this week, as has left tackle Tyron Smith and defensive end Dorance Armstrong.
The Vikings are led by quarterback Kirk Cousins, who has thrown for nearly 1800 yards and 13 touchdowns with only two interceptions. He is coming off his best game of the season in which he threw for 373 yards and three touchdowns. Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen create havoc in defensive secondaries, having combined for 78 catches, 935 yards, and eight touchdowns. K.J. Osborn and tight end Tyler Conklin have also been solid options in the passing game.
On the ground, the Vikings are led by Dalvin Cook, who returned to the lineup against Carolina after missing two games and posted 140 yards on 29 carries. Alexander Mattison is a solid change of pace back, and has rushed for 268 yards. As a team the Vikings are averaging a solid 127.8 yards on the ground per game.
Defensively, the Vikings can bring the pressure, leading the league with 21 sacks. Defensive end Danielle Hunter has six of those sacks. Minnesota has only four interceptions and four forced fumbles. Applying pressure will be a key for the Vikings, especially with Prescott’s status up in the air.
The key of the game will be which team controls the line of scrimmage and who wins the turnover battle.