The Landry Hat staff of contributors give their predictions for the Week 13 matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and the Minnesota Vikings.
Aug 29, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys center Travis Frederick (72) takes the field prior to the game against the Minnesota Vikings at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
On Thursday night, the 10-1 Dallas Cowboys will take on the 6-5 Minnesota Vikings. The Landry Hat’s staff of contributors has gathered together this week to give their predictions for the Week 13 matchup.
Note: If you are interested in reading more of a particular contributor’s work on the site, simply click on their name.
Nov 20, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford (8) against the Arizona Cardinals at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Vikings defeated the Cardinals 30-24. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Prediction: If you’ve read my article this week, you’d learn how much respect I have for head coach Mike Zimmer. This will be the first time the Dallas Cowboys face their former defensive coordinator since Zimmer took the role as the head coach of the Vikings.
I’m reading that this game is a bye week of some sorts for many of you.
Let me tell you something: Minnesota has a lot to fight for. This Thursday night match will draw in some serious eyeballs. Don’t put anything past this Vikings team, especially a Mike Zimmer coached squad.
Now, I know what you’ll say. The Cowboys beat the Ravens. They beat the Steelers. They bypassed the Eagles defense. The Cowboys defense held up a fiery Redskins offense.
So who cares about the Vikings?
Because it’s the NFL. Anything can happen. The Vikings might be down and out at the moment, but they’re 6-5 overall with eyes on the Lions who are standing tall at 7-4.
I don’t think Sam Bradford will have an astounding game like Kirk Cousins on Thanksgiving, but he’ll find the open spots and score with his terrific wide-out group. Pencil me in for an interception or two. Cowboys are due for some turnovers, and Bradford is the man to feed them.
So, having said this and that about the Vikings, why do I think the Cowboys will pull this one out?
The Vikings are 1-4 in their last five games. The Cowboys are 5-0 their last five games. Guess who else has accomplished that? The New York Giants and the Miami Dolphins. Dallas isn’t the only hot team right now (though their 10-1 stretch qualifies them as the hottest).
The Cowboys need this one. They need next week’s game against the Giants more, but the Cowboys are thinking big things — and that starts with locking down the number one seed in the NFC.
The Vikings offensive line will give up sacks against a borderline average pass rush in Dallas. The Dallas Cowboys are familiar with the new stadium smell. It’ll be a nice home game. The dome environment will be a nice test for Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott as they try to out muscle a master defensive-minded coach.
Mike Zimmer plans well, but comes up short with the lack of weapons.
Final Score: Dallas Cowboys 34, Minnesota Vikings 17
Nov 24, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) scores a touchdown against the Washington Redskins during the second half at AT&T Stadium. The Cowboys defeat the Redskins 31-26. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Prediction: I believe the upcoming Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings matchup can be summed up in one word: balance.
As a team, it appears the Cowboys have it and the Vikings do not.
Let’s look at the offensive and defensive rankings for both teams:
Cowboys – Current Record: (10-1) Cowboys – Total Offense rank: 5th Cowboys – Total Defense rank: 21st
Vikings – Current Record: (6-5) Vikings – Total Offense rank: 32nd Vikings – Total Defense rank: 3rd
Looking deeper into those numbers, it appears the Vikings might have some success combating the Cowboys’ strengths. Dallas has the second best rushing offense in the league. Minnesota has the 13th best rushing defense. The Cowboys rank 17th in passing offense. The Vikings rank 4th in passing defense.
The Cowboys bend but don’t break defensive unit should not have a problem containing the Vikings’ 25th ranked passing and last place rushing offense. The bigger question is can Minnesota, who is currently 4-1 at home, stop Dallas’ high octane offense enough to give quarterback Sam Bradford and crew a chance to outscore them? I believe the answer will be an emphatic no.
Final Score: Dallas Cowboys 34, Minnesota Vikings 20
Nov 24, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett shakes the hand of quarterback Dak Prescott (4) before the game against the Washington Redskins at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Prediction: The Cowboys have been defying what we all think we know about football this season. They are winning without really succeeding on defense – such as taking the ball away, and sacking the quarterback – by being absurdly consistent and efficient on offense.
The Minnesota Vikings boast a very good defense, one of the best in the entire NFL. This will be a tough test on another big stage for this young team, but I don’t believe the Vikings will be able to go toe-to-toe with the Cowboys for an entire 60 minutes.
Much like other opponents this season, I expect the Vikings to come out and hit the Cowboys with their best shot, but falter in the second half as they get worn out.
It’s hard to imagine the Vikings will have the offensive fire-power to keep up with the Cowboys potent offense.
I believe that the Cowboys defense is going to get on track in this game with sacks and a few turnovers. I predict at least one interception, and two sacks against Minnesota.
The Cowboys were start slow, but come out victorious in the second half.
Final Score: Dallas Cowboys 27, Minnesota Vikings 17
Nov 24, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) is tackled by Washington Redskins safety Donte Whitner Sr. (39) and inside linebacker Su’a Cravens (36) during the first quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Prediction: This will be one of the more interesting games of the season as the Cowboys top tier offense will take on the Minnesota Vikings impressive defensive front. The one thing the Vikings do not do particularly well is stop opposing running backs as they are ranked 15th in the league allowing an average of 100.2 yards per game.
This obviously plays into the Cowboys favor as Dallas loves to run the football with star rookie and MVP candidate Ezekiel Elliott.
Minnesota may also be without productive defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd so that can only help enhance the Cowboys chances of having success on the ground. If you factor in Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford’s falling quarterback rating over the last three weeks, Minnesota may not be able to keep up.
The Vikings currently are dead last in pass yards per game and rushing yards per game so that already shows evidence of a severe offensive decline.
They are also only 24th in pass yards per game and in points per game so Dallas regularly outscores them. The Baltimore Ravens were the number one run stopping defense in the league, so were the Green Bay Packers, and they failed to stop Zeke so I cannot imagine the Vikings finding success against him.
At the end of the day, the Cowboys will just have to many weapons for the Vikings to stop.
Final Score: Dallas Cowboys 31, Minnesota Vikings 14
Week 13 is here and the Dallas Cowboys are rolling. With a win, they have a chance at locking up a playoff berth, provided Tampa Bay or Washington lose this weeked. News aside, let’s get down to the meat of the game.
This contest is very intriguing, because the strength of the Cowboys is their offense. And the strength of the Vikings is their defense. Something has to give. They way the ‘Boys have been manhandling defenses lately, I’m predicting it will be the Vikings.
The Cowboys’ offense line should be able to take care of business against the Vikings defensive line. Even if they don’t, rookie quarterback Dak Prescott is very good at evading pressure himself. Oh, and Ezekiel Elliott is one of the best in the league at picking up blitzes.
All that said, look for Vikings’ head coach Mike Zimmer to send pressure all day. When teams have been able to slow down this offense, it has been by putting pressure on Prescott.
Since they are facing a vaunted secondary, I think the Cowboys will run early and often. After all, when has feeding Zeke not worked recently? On top of that, electric wide receiver Dez Bryant should be able to have himself a nice game too.
After torching Josh Norman (maybe not on the stat sheet), Minnesota’s top corner Xavier Rhodes shouldn’t be able to stop him. Pro Football Focus even ranks Norman as the better corner of the two.
On defense, the Cowboys will need to stop the run and force Minnesota to be one dimensional. That shouldn’t be a challenge considering Dallas possess the 3rd ranked run defense in the NFL. If they can do that, they will force Minnesota quarterback Sam Bradford to win the game through the air, something he rarely can do on his own.
This game is going to come down to Dallas being able to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, and control the clock. Essentially if the Cowboys can execute their usual plan, they should escape U.S. Bank Stadium with a win and be that much closer to the playoffs.
Final Score: Dallas Cowboys 24, Minnesota Vikings 10