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What: Minnesota Vikings at Dallas Cowboys
When: Sunday Night Football, November 10 at 8:20 pm ET
Where: AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas
How (TV): NBC
Latest point spread: Vikings +3, Cowboys -3
This exciting Week 10 Sunday Night Football matchup between the 6-3 Minnesota Vikings and the 5-3 Dallas Cowboys could be a potential playoff preview, with both of these NFC teams hoping to see the postseason once again and both needing a win here to get a bit closer to that goal.
The Vikings are coming off a tough loss to the Mahomes-less Kansas City Chiefs in Week 9, while the Cowboys are fresh off their Monday Night Football smackdown of their divisional rivals, the New York Giants.
Both of these teams are fairly healthy, and one has a better passing game while the other excels on the ground, so let’s take a quick look at how these two NFC foes measure up against each other for their Week 10 Sunday night battle.
For more on Week 10 check out NFL Week 10 Power Rankings
The Minnesota Vikings should have been able to win in Week 9 against the Kansas City Chiefs – quarterback Kirk Cousins tried (and failed) to bring his team down the field for a game-saving touchdown (or at the very least a field goal) but instead, the Chiefs’ backup quarterback was able to get it done.
It doesn’t matter how good your run game is (and the Vikings’ run game, ala the best rusher in the league right now, Dalvin Cook, is extremely good) if you can’t throw the ball effectively and consistently then your offense will be far too easy to defend.
At times, the Minnesota Vikings look like a football franchise that’s heading towards the playoffs, their top-10 offense and defense strong enough to take down any opponent regardless of the conference, so this matchup with the surging Cowboys will be a preview of postseason things to come, the outcome a sign of how these Vikings measure up to the better teams of the NFL.
The Dallas Cowboys are finally looking like they have their game plan figured out, now on a two-game winning streak with an offense that’s best in the league and firing on all cylinders and a 6th ranked defense that can easily get the job done.
The key to this Cowboys’ offense is running back Ezekiel Elliott, who is proving (once again) to be worth every dime owner Jerry Jones just forked over to make him the highest-paid running back in the league.
Elliott is actually the key to Dallas’ defense, as well, since his slow-rolling run game keeps his own defense off the field and well-rested, that recipe accentuated by the Dak Prescott to Amari Cooper connection, a well-balanced attack that opponents are finding tough to outscore.
These two conference rivals have met 30 total times (including 7 postseason games), with Minnesota winning 14 of those times and Dallas winning the other 16 games.
The last time these two teams played each other was back during the 2016 season in December when the Cowboys traveled to Minnesota to beat the Vikings by a score of 17-15.
Who’s favored to win this Week 10 Vikings-Cowboys matchup?
Which team has a better offense? Defense? Special teams?
Which team’s quarterback is more likely to lead his team to victory?
We’re going to briefly compare the Vikings and the Cowboys next and attempt to answer those questions and more.
Passing attack: The Minnesota Vikings have the 16th ranked passing offense in the league right now, averaging 233.7 yards per game through the air after nine weeks.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins is currently under center in Minnesota and ranked the 13th most productive passer in the league having completed 174-of-253 passes for 2,217 yards and 16 touchdowns with 3 interceptions and a completion percentage of 68.8.
The Vikings’ leading receiver after nine weeks is Stefon Diggs, who is currently ranked 7th in the league with 38 catches for 710 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Rushing attack: The Vikings’ rushing attack is ranked 3rd in the NFL after averaging 153.0 yards on the ground per game.
Dalvin Cook is the Vikings’ best runner and he is also currently the best rusher in the NFL with 177 carries for 894 yards and 9 rushing touchdowns, averaging 5.1 yards per carry.
Minnesota has scored 234 total points this season, or 26 per game, which is the 11th best total in the NFL.
Listed as questionable for Week 10: wide receiver Adam Thielen (hamstring).
Injury notes: tight end David Morgan (knee) is listed as PUP-R while wide receivers Chad Beebe (ankle) and Josh Doctson (hamstring) have both been placed on injured reserve.
Passing attack: Dallas has the 4th best passing attack in the league right now after averaging 287.5 yards through the air each game.
Quarterback Dak Prescott is the 8th most productive NFL passer after completing 190-of-273 passes for 2,380 yards and 15 touchdowns with 8 interceptions and a completion percentage of 69.6.
The Cowboys’ best receiver is currently Amari Cooper, who has caught 42 passes for 701 yards with 6 touchdowns in nine weeks, ranked 8th among NFL receivers right now.
Rushing attack: Dallas has the 4th ranked rushing attack, so far averaging 149.2 yards on the ground per game.
Ezekiel Elliott is the Cowboys’ best runner and now he is the 6th most productive in the NFL with 158 carries for 741 yards and 6 touchdowns, averaging 4.7 yards per carry.
Dallas has scored 227 points in 2019, averaging 28.4 per game, which is currently the 5th highest scoring average in the NFL.
Listed as questionable for Week 10: offensive tackles La’el Collins (knee – MCL), Cameron Fleming (calf) and Tyron Smith (ankle), wide receiver Amari Cooper (knee) and offensive guard Zack Martin (back).
Injury notes: wide receiver Noah Brown (knee) is listed as PUP-R, while wide receivers Jon’Vea Johnson (shoulder) and Lance Lenoir (knee) and guards Connor McGovern (pectoral) and Cody Wichmann (calf) have been placed on injured reserve.
The Vikings’ offense is good, but the Cowboys’ offense is great, so Dallas will have the definite offensive advantage on Sunday night.
Pass coverage: The Vikings have the 8th best pass defense in 2019 so far, allowing opponents to throw for 225.1 yards through the air per game.
Minnesota’s defense has 8 team interceptions and they have 28 sacks total.
Run coverage: The Vikings are the 9th best NFL team against the run right now after allowing opponents to run for 95.8 yards per game.
Minnesota has allowed their opponents to score just 158 total points, or 17.6 per game, which is the 4th least in the NFL.
Definitely watch for Minnesota middle linebacker Eric Kendricks – the guy has the 10th most tackles in the league so far with 74 (3 for a loss), half a sack, 2 quarterback hits, and a forced fumble.
Danielle Hunter’s name gets called a lot, and so far the Vikings’ defensive end has posted 8.5 sacks (T-4th most in the NFL), 14 quarterback hits, a forced fumble and 42 total tackles (10 for a loss).
Tied for the 4th most interceptions in the league is Minnesota defensive back Anthony Harris, who has 3 picks this season, plus 9 passes defended, a forced fumble and 42 total tackles.
Listed as questionable for Week 10: defensive ends Ifeadi Odenigbo (shoulder) and Stephen Weatherly (abdomen) and cornerback Trae Waynes (ankle).
Injury notes: N/A
Pass coverage: The Cowboys’ defense is 7th best against the pass, allowing their opponents to throw for an average of 220.9 yards per matchup.
Dallas’s defense has 4 interceptions on opposing quarterbacks and they have 22 total sacks after nine weeks.
Run coverage: The Cowboys are 11th best against a rushing attack, allowing opponents to run for an average of 97.2 yards per game.
Dallas has allowed their opponents to score 142 total points this season, or 17.8 per matchup, which is 5th fewest in the NFL.
Watch for the Cowboys’ best tackler, middle linebacker Jaylon Smith, who has 68 of them (3 for a loss), plus 2.5 sacks, 3 quarterback hits, 2 passes defended and 2 forced fumbles.
If you like watching quarterback sacks, check out Cowboys’ defensive end Robert Quinn – he has 6.5 sacks already, plus 8 quarterback hits, 3 passes defended and 13 total tackles (6 for a loss.)
Xavier Woods is trouble in the Dallas secondary, and the free safety with 2 interceptions, 4 passes defended, 2 forced fumbles and 44 total tackles is a fun player to watch.
Listed as questionable for Week 10: linebackers Leighton Vander Esch (neck) and Sean Lee (pectoral) and safety Jeff Heath (shoulder).
Injury notes: defensive end Randy Gregory (suspension) is listed as OUT, while defensive end Jalen Jelks (undisclosed), defensive tackles Daniel Ross (shoulder) and Tyrone Crawford (hip), cornerback Chris Westry (undisclosed) and safety Kavon Frazier (pectoral) have been placed on injured reserve.
These two teams are matched fairly evenly on defense, so neither of them will have the outright advantage on that side of the ball.
Minnesota’s veteran punter, Britton Colquitt, is in his tenth NFL season, his first with the Vikings, and this season he has punted 32 times for a net average of 42.5 yards per punt, which is T-10th best in the league.
Dallas’ veteran punter, Chris Jones, is in his ninth NFL season, all with the Cowboys, and this year he has punted 24 times for a net average of 38.3 yards per punt, which was the 34th best in the league.
Minnesota’s placekicker, Dan Bailey, is in his ninth NFL season, second with the Vikings.
Bailey has made 13-of-15 field goals this season, his longest a 50 yarder, and so far, he has missed two extra point attempts (25/27).
Dallas’ placekicker, Brett Maher, is in his second NFL season, both with the Cowboys.
Maher has made 13-of-18 field goals in 2019, his longest a 63 yarder, and so far, he has missed no extra point attempts (26/26).
Minnesota’s punt returner is cornerback Mike Hughes, who is replacing the injured returner Chad Beebe, the wide receiver who has been placed on injured reserve due to an ankle injury.
Hughes has returned 7 punts for 38 yards and 0 touchdowns this year, averaging 5.4 yards per return.
Dallas’ main punt returner, wide receiver Tavon Austin, is in his seventh NFL season, his second with the Cowboys.
Austin has returned 9 punts for 56 yards and 0 touchdowns this year, averaging 6.2 yards per return.
The Cowboys’ placekicker may have missed a few more kicks than the Vikings’ kicker, but Maher has kicked a 63-yarder and Dallas has a better punter, so the special team’s advantage goes to the Cowboys.
The Minnesota Vikings will win this one if Kirk Cousins can play as the better version of himself, the same 3-touchdown-throwing self who showed up in Kansas City except maybe with the ability to set his offense up for a fourth-quarter field goal.
The Vikings will have to have a huge rushing attack by Dalvin Cook while at the same time limiting the Cowboys’ run game – if they can prevent the big plays by Zeke (they’re not going to keep him from the short gains) they will at least minimize the damage that he can typically do to opponents.
The Vikings will have a good chance to win this one if Adam Thielen is healthy enough to play, but right now his banged-up hamstring has him listed as questionable, something that could become a huge factor in the outcome of this matchup.
The Dallas Cowboys will win this game if their offense shows up – Prescott has to get rid of the ball quickly and accurately, Cooper and tight end Jason Whitten have to get open, and Zeke has to be well-fed all evening long.
The Cowboys will win if they can keep the turnovers do a minimum – interceptions and fumbles will make the Vikings think they have a chance, and the Vikes will take any advantage they can get in front of a hostile Arlington crowd.
Speaking of which, the Cowboys will win this game because they are playing in Texas, and there are no louder crowds than the ones that show up to AT&T Stadium, especially in Week 10 of this kind of a season.
Dallas Cowboys by a point – it won’t be an easy win but playing in front of a hometown Texas crowd will give them the slight edge they need to come out on top.
John Breech of CBS Sports predicts the score as Vikings 34, Cowboys 31.
My prediction for the final score is Cowboys 31, Vikings 30.
Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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