The Vikings come into Week 11 on a three-game winning streak, their latest being a 19-13 Monday Night Football win over the Bears.
The Cowboys last played two weeks ago and were beaten by the Pittsburgh Steelers, 24-19.
All is not well in Jerry World these days.
The Cowboys entered the season as odds-on-favorite to win a weak NFC East. The good news is, they still can win this pitiful division. The bad news is, they’ve lost their last four games, are now 2-7, and have started four different quarterbacks through nine games.
After struggling to a 1-3 start, the Cowboys defeated the Giants on a last-second, 34-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein. The win, however, came at a steep cost when Dak Prescott suffered a season-ending leg injury.
Andy Dalton would take over the starting duties, but in just his second start, suffered a concussion on a cheap shot from linebacker Jon Bostic of the Washington Football Team. (Can we get a name for these guys, already?)
Ben DiNucci — who honestly sounds more like one of the T-Birds than an NFL quarterback — would start against the Eagles; and last week, AAF standout Garrett Gilbert took the reins against the Steelers. There is no truth to the rumor that Johnny Manziel was contacted by Jerry Jones.
Dalton is scheduled to return for this game. His stats, thus far, show 52 completions in 85 attempts for 452 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions. Frequent Cabo cabana boy Zeke Elliott has been pedestrian this season. Elliott has rushed for just 572 yards in 150 attempts, scoring five touchdowns. He does have 36 catches for 238 yards, which is on pace with his 2019 season.
Dallas has two talented wide receivers in Amari Cooper and rookie CeeDee Lamb. Cooper comes into the game leading the Dallas receivers in catches (59) and yards (655). Lamb is having a good rookie season with 595 yards on 44 catches, leading the receiving corps with three touchdowns.
The defense ranks 32nd in the NFL — that’s last, to you and me — in points allowed. They are also giving up 157 rushing yards per game. The offense is 25th in points scored and ranks 29th in red zone efficiency.
The Vikings looked dead in the water after falling to 1-5 in a beatdown at home by the Atlanta Falcons.
During their bye week, Minnesota dealt Yannick Ngakoue to the Ravens after just six games with the Vikings. However, a funny thing happened on the way to despair: the Vikings went into Lambeau Field and upset the Green Bay Packers, 28-22. They followed that up with a 34-20 home victory over the Detroit Lions. Then, this past Monday, Kirk Cousins and company got the Monday Night monkey off of their collective backs and defeated the Bears, bringing them within a game of 0.500.
The catalyst for this resurgence has been Dalvin Cook. Despite missing a game-and-a-half with a groin injury, Cook has rushed for 954 yards and 12 touchdowns thus far. His rushing mate, Alexander Mattison, has added 326 yards on the ground. Kirk Cousins has seen his role change but his play improve, completing 49-of-70 passes for 672 yards and six touchdowns. His lone interception was a ball that went right through the hands of Adam Thielen.
The Minnesota receivers are led by rookie sensation Justin Jefferson; he is making Vikings fans forget Stefon Diggs more and more each day. Jefferson leads the team in catches (42) and yards (762). Veteran standout Adam Thielen is just one catch behind Jefferson and has nine touchdown catches, most on the team.
The youth on the defensive side of the ball is beginning to establish themselves as talented NFL players. Linebacker Eric Wilson; defensive end DJ Wonnum; and cornerbacks Kris Boyd, Cam Dantzler, and Jeff Gladney have all made strides in the past few weeks, helping stabilize the unit.
The Vikings have shown a spark in their past three games, spurred by Cook and the young defense. Meanwhile, Dallas is struggling just to find a quarterback who can last more than two weeks.
One thing to watch is the Vikings’ special teams unit. They’ve had several issues this season with bad snaps, blocked punts, and kick coverage. They don’t need to be outstanding; they just need not to suck.
It’s rare that I pick the Vikings to win, but I’m taking them this week.
Dallas has been miserable against the run, and Cook has been eating weak run defenses the way Nate Newton use to eat, well, everything. If Minnesota can keep Zeke in check, they can put the game in Andy Dalton’s hands. That should bode well for the Vikings. I can still see a special teams miscue, but I’m hoping it comes after a window-dressing touchdown.
I see a 30-21 win for the Norse Force in this one.
(Featured Image Credit: Vikings.com)