Minnesota (6-3; 5-4 ATS) at Dallas (5-3; 5-3 ATS) (Sunday night)
Early line: Cowboys (minus-3 points). Total: (47)
MIN 8TH OFF; DAL 6TH DEF
MIN 3RD RUN; DAL 11TH vs. RUN
MIN 16TH PASS; DAL 7TH vs. PASS
MIN 11TH PTS; DAL 5TH PTS ALLOWED
DAL 1ST OFF; MIN 7TH DEF
DAL 4TH RUN; MIN 9TH vs. RUN
DAL 4TH PASS; MIN 8TH vs. PASS
DAL 5TH PTS; MIN 4TH PTS ALLOWED
MIN T7TH TO/TA; DAL T15TH TO-TA
Cowboys lead all-time series 16-14-0 and have won last 2 games vs. Vikings (3 of last 5), including 17-15 win at Minnesota in most recent game Dec. 1, 2016. Three of the next five games are on the road for Minnesota.
A VIKINGS offense that had found its footing with a balanced attack in four straight wins was off the mark early in 26-23 Week Nine road loss to Chiefs.
Facing the 30th-ranked run defense in the NFL and featuring the league's top rusher in Dalvin Cook, the VIKINGS opened Week 9 game at KC with three straight passes. QB Kirk Cousins overthrew Cook on a first-down screen. There was a missed connection with open WR Adam Thielen on second down before the third-down pass sailed over the head of WR Laquon Treadwell.
It was reminiscent of last season, when too much of a focus on VIKINGS’ passing game led head coach Mike Zimmer to make a midseason change at offensive coordinator, firing John DeFilippo. Kevin Stefanski took over and has helped orchestrate the success of the previous four games.
Stefanski started to work Cook in more, and VIKINGS drove for a touchdown on its third series. In all, the Vikings had 13 runs and 21 passes in the first half, leading to halftime adjustments in Week 9 loss.
On the final 2 possessions in Week 9, Minnesota couldn't run or pass. Nursing a 23-20 lead in the 4th quarter, the VIKINGS went three-and-out with a missed screen pass and two runs. The Chiefs countered with a game-tying drive. Cousins then had 3 straight incompletions on the ensuing possession, eventually leading to KC’s game-winning FG as time expired.
VIKINGS’ Week 9 offense finished with 308 total yards (212 passing, only 96 rushing), as Cousins had 19-38-220-3 TDs-0 INTs (94.2 QB rating), and Cook finished with 21-71 rushing and 4-45 receiving on 7 targets and a long of 22.
O-line that had improved during VIKINGS’ winning streak took a step back against a KC defense that had given up an average of 145 rushing yards entering the game. Cook was hit behind, or within a yard, of the line of scrimmage on 15 of his 21 carries. He finished with a 3.4-yard average. According to Pro Football Focus, zero of his 71 rushing yards came before contact.
VIKINGS rookie C Garrett Bradbury had a pair of penalties in Week 9 loss. He was called for holding and was later flagged for being ineligible downfield that wiped out a 14-yard reception by rookie TE Irv Smith on a drive that ended in a punt.
Smith’s role continues to grow. After totaling seven catches in VIKINGS’ first six games, he has 12 catches the past three weeks. He tied a career high in Week 9 with six targets, finishing with four catches for 33 yards.
With the offense and special teams putting the defense in a tough spot late, Minnesota's pass rush picked up the pressure. VIKINGS had 3 sacks — one each by DE Everson Griffen, SS Harrison Smith and DE Stephen Weatherly — over the final 2 KC drives. Minnesota finished with 5 sacks and is ranked 6th in the NFL with 28 sacks this season.
On the downside, VIKINGS defense allowed Chiefs offense minus QB Pat Mahomes 377 total yards, including 18-147-1 rushing (8.2 ypc).
Thielen was in for just seven plays before aggravating his hamstring injury. He missed one game with the injury and is likely looking at another absence (check status). VIKINGS have two games before their Week 12 bye.
VIKINGS WR Josh Doctson is on injured reserve with a hamstring injury but has been designated to return and could perhaps make his way back Sunday night.
QB Dak Prescott shook off an INT on his first pass and threw for 3 TDs, and the COWBOYS turned three Daniel Jones turnovers into 13 points on their way to a 37-18 home win over the Giants in wacky Week 9 Monday-nighter that was briefly delayed in the second quarter by an elusive black cat.
The win gave the COWBOYS a half-game lead over Philadelphia in the NFC East and improved their record in the division to 4-0, including a win over the Eagles.
COWBOYS’ top-ranked total offense (437.9 ypg) gained 429 total yards (30-172 rushing; 5.7 ypc), while defense allowed Giants 271 total yards and had 5 sacks for 39 yards in losses, in addition to aforementioned 3 takeaways.
Prescott threw for 257 yards and had a 101.7 QB rating, and RB Ezekiel Elliott ran for a season-high 139 yards on 23 carries (6.0 ypc) in COWBOYS’ Week 9 win.
COWBOYS’ Prescott hit TE Blake Jarwin for a much-needed 42-yard TD late in the second quarter. He added a 15-yarder to WR Michael Gallup (2-33-1 on 6 targets) and a 45-yarder to WR Amari Cooper (4-8-1 on 7 targets) in the fourth. TE Jason Witten led Dallas receivers with 8-58 on 9 targets.
PK Brett Maher kicked 3 FGs, including a 52-yarder in the waning seconds of the first half that gave COWBOYS the lead for good after falling behind 12-3 in the second quarter. FS Xavier Woods intercepted a third-down pass by Jones on the ensuing series and returned it to the Giants 38, setting up Maher's go-ahead field goal.
Other noteworthy COWBOYS defenders besides Woods in Week 9 were: DEs Demarcus Lawrence, who had a sack, 2 TFLs, 3 hurries and 4 tackles, and Michael Bennett, who had a sack, 2 TFLs, 4 hurries and 3 tackles; LB Jaylon Smith, who had a half-sack and tied for team high in tackles with 12; and DB Jourdan Lewis, who scored on a 63-yard FR in the final seconds and had 6 tackles.
Check status of COWBOYS S Jeff Heath, who left early in second half in Week 9 with a leg injury.
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