Nov 20, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) runs the ball in the first quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
When is the last time the streaking Dallas Cowboys faced an opponent with an elite defense and an offense ranked in the 20’s?
Short term memory will recall this took place 11 days ago as the Cowboys knocked off the Baltimore Ravens 27-17.
The similarities between Minnesota and Baltimore are astounding on many levels.
The 5-5 Ravens entered Dallas tied with Pittsburgh for the AFC North lead. They were only a few weeks removed from four straight losses.
The 6-5 Vikings host the Cowboys tonight one game behind NFC North leader Detroit. Minnesota is also two weeks beyond a 4-game losing streak.
Minnesota has playoff hopes, is highly motivated to win, and wishes to keep pace in their division. The Ravens had the same sentiments 11 days ago.
Fortunately Dallas is equally fueled with ambition. Winning their next two games would secure the NFC East title and a home playoff game.
Nov 20, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys receiver Cole Beasely (11) celebrates his second quarter touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
DOMINANT DEFENSES EXCITE COWBOYS
Like Baltimore, Minnesota enters the Dallas game with a similar record and playoff motivations. Yet identity and production link them far beyond the surface.
Both teams field defenses among the NFL’s four best. Below are their numbers along with NFL ranking in parenthesis.
Nov 20, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Baltimore Ravens running back Terrance West (28) runs with the ball against Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee (50) and defensive tackle Maliek Collins (96) at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
LAGGING OFFENSES WILL SUFFER SAME FATE
The Vikings and Ravens appear related on defense, yet when it comes to offensive scoring they are identically flawed.
Each offense struggles to capitalize on efforts by their solid defense. Dallas put the clamps on Baltimore limiting them to 17 points.