Dallas +1.5 at Minnesota O/U 44.5
Two under-performing teams matchup at the Metrodome when the Vikings (1-3) host the Cowboys (1-3). The Dallas Cowboys offense is currently no. 1 in the NFC averaging 421 yards per game and 6.2 yards per play. Yet despite outgaining every opponent this season, including three teams by at least 100 yards, the Cowboys and have just one victory and along with the Vikings find themselves in a desperate situation Sunday.
Minnesota’s offense is still trying to find its way after such explosive results a season ago. Brett Favre got his deep threat with the trade of Randy Moss and the two hooked up for a touchdown Monday night in the loss to the Jets. But lingering tendinitis in Favre’s throwing elbow could cause him to miss this contest and snap his streak of 289 straight games played. Even if Favre plays, he showed Monday night that he’s hurting and he admitted he missed some throws and receivers while playing with pain. The off-field distractions have only added to the troubling start for Favre and the Vikings.
While the offense has struggled, the Vikings defense is still strong and allows only 289 yards per game. Yet just behind them are the Cowboys at 304 yards per game – but 5.6 yards per play, which ranks in the lower half of the league. Still, Dallas’ run defense has been better than the Vikings while also facing a pair of top-10 rushing attacks. Minnesota will rely heavily on Adrian Peterson this week, but Romo should be able to make some big plays in the passing game as the Vikings will play this contest without cornerback Cedric Griffin, who suffered a season-ending knee injury against the Jets.
Dallas was destroyed by the Vikings in last year’s playoffs 34-3, yet I expect the Big D’s offense to be the better unit in this contest and Romo to attack Griffin’s replacement Asher Allen with success. Dallas’ offense runs the ball a league-low 33.6% of its plays. However last week they broke out with 141 yards rushing at 6.1 ypr as Felix Jones came off the bench for 109 yards. He’ll be the feature back this week to balance the Cowboys attack. Tony Romo threw for a career high 406 yards last week in defeat and is piling up some impressive numbers with over 1,300 yards passing, 7.7 yards per pass attempt and 68% completions. However, he must stay upright as the Titans applied pressure and sacked him six times last week and the Vikings posted the same tally in last year’s playoff game.
The lack of competence by both these head coaches is a concern and part of the reason for their struggles. Dallas has beaten themselves at times with penalties and turnovers, while the Vikings haven’t been able to get their offense on track. The scheduling situation is unfavorable for the Vikings this week as they come off a physical Monday night beating at New York. The Vikings have been a very poor betting favorite the week prior to playing Green Bay, and with the Cowboys offense in high-gear and the best offense the Vikings have faced this season, it looks like a game for a desperate Dallas team to win.
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