Dallas Cowboys vs Minnesota Vikings: Preview and Predictions

Nov 20, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders performs during a timeout from the game against the Baltimore Ravens at AT&T Stadium. The Cowboys beat the Raven 27-17. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 20, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders performs during a timeout from the game against the Baltimore Ravens at AT&T Stadium. The Cowboys beat the Raven 27-17. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports /

The Dallas Cowboys travel to Minnesota to take on the Vikings in their first Thursday Night Football game of the season. Here’s what to watch for…

The 10-1 Dallas Cowboys face yet another test when they travel up I-35 to take on the Minnesota Vikings and their #2 ranked defense. If it seems like every week is a test, it’s because it is. That’s inherently what the regular season is after all, “a test”.

But unlike past weeks, this doesn’t have to be the Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott Show. The Vikings defense will be hellbent on making other Cowboys beat them. That will provide ample opportunities for players like Cole Beasley, Brice Butler, Terrance Williams, and Jason Witten.

How will this game be won? Who should we be watching? And what are we predicting?

Let’s take a look at what the Sport DFW staff thinks:

Dan Ruppert, Sport DFW

After a game in which supposedly provided “the blueprint to beating the Cowboys” was on full display, the Vikings are next to try their hand. the Vikings defense is nothing to sleep on (ranked 3rd). What will be their downfall is the worst offense in the NFL.

The Cowboys have already faced the second best defense in Baltimore, and they have a better offense than the Vikings. I think it stays close for a little bit, then the Cowboys offense pulls away quickly. Don’t be surprised if the Cowboys rack up some sacks this game too.

Cowboys 30 Vikings 17

Reid Hanson, Sport DFW

Confidence is high in Dallas. That’s an inevitable result of a 10-1 record (best record in the NFL), a 10-game winning streak (the longest streak in the NFL), and an unstoppable offense. With the level-headed leadership of rookie tandem “The 214”, overconfidence isn’t a concern for the 2016 Dallas Cowboys.

Related Story: Cowboys Flashback: Here Comes The 214

With that said, Minnesota is no push-over. The offense, ranked dead-last in the NFL (yards per game) isn’t going to scare anyone. But their defense is an entirely different story.

The defense, led by familiar face and former Cowboys coordinator Mike Zimmer, has been the backbone of the Vikings. Ranked #2 in points allowed and #3 in yards allowed, the Vikings boast premiere players at all three levels.

Offensively, the Cowboys will need to rely on Travis Fredrick’s ability to dish out blocking assignments. Zimmer loves blitzing his linebackers and often targets the middle of the line in his attack. Zeke is going to earn his money picking up the blitz Thursday night, but also look for him to be used significantly as a receiver out of the backfield.

Dez Bryant will get his opportunity for big plays since he’ll see plenty of single coverage. Prescott will look to avoid Harrison Smith (perhaps the best safety in the NFL) and will need to identify “hot routes” throughout the day. His ability to do so will provide a huge day for Cole Beasley and effectively stop the Viking pass rush in the process.

Dallas 28 Minnesota 17

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Dink Kearney, Sport DFW

The Dallas Cowboys will face another litmus test when they face the Minnesota Vikings in a Thursday Night Showdown. This is definitely a must win game for the Vikings, who are 6-5 and in second place in the NFC North. A loss to the Cowboys will dim their chances of making the playoffs, so expect the Vikings to play with a sense of urgency.

For whatever reason, this game is supposed to be a litmus test for rookie quarterback Dak Prescott because the Vikings are holding opposing QBs to under 55 in total QBR (quarterback rating). Dak leads the NFL in QBR with an 86.2 QBR.

No worries, because the Cowboys will come out and do what they do best, and that’s run the ball heavily and dominate the Vikings defensive line. Dak will continue to perform at Pro Bowl level, make good decisions, spread the ball around and pass for a few touchdowns.

Dak is a dynamic player and this will be another battle the Cowboys win, and hopefully quiet the critics and HATERS. Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley, Jason Witten, Brice Butler, and Terrance Williams will be too much for the Vikings secondary to handle.

Next: Why the Cowboys Are Ignoring Their Biggest Weakness

The Vikings will be forced to pick their own poison like the previous 10 teams that has lost to Dallas. The game will start out slow, but Dallas will pick up the pace and win this meaningful game and keep its winning streak alive. The Cowboys defense will keep Sam Bradford and its mediocre offense in check, too. This victory will give Dallas even more confidence because it will have defeated two top ranked defenses this season.

Dallas 35 Vikings 20