Week 10 treats us to two heavyweight primetime matchups, and it gets started Sunday Night when Minnesota travels to Dallas. Per DVOA, this is the #4 team in the NFL, the Cowboys, hosting the Vikings who are the #6 team in the NFL. So, at the conclusion of this one, we’ll hopefully have a much better idea of how good these teams are moving forward.
The spread has these two teams as dead even, with the Cowboys favored by the standard 3 points for home field. Some will claim that Dallas has a below-average home-field advantage, but the advantage at home is often determined by how good the team is at the time. In primetime on Sunday night, and with Dallas looking like Super Bowl contenders, home field is will be worth at least 3 points.
Cowboys Offense vs. Minnesota Defense
The Cowboys bring star power to this matchup, behind Zeke Elliot, Amari Cooper, and Dak Prescott. While Prescott is never mentioned among the elite quarterbacks in the NFL, he currently holds the #2 position in QBR at 77.7. One spot ahead of him is Russell Wilson at 78.5 and one spot below Dak is Patrick Mahomes at 77. They’re followed by Deshaun Watson and Lamar Jackson.
The combination of Dak Prescott playing as well as he is, with a ground game led by Elliot has resulted in the #1 most efficient offense in the NFL. To combat that is a Minnesota team ranked 7th in defensive efficiency, and the Vikings may own an arsenal capable of shutting down the Dallas offense.
Fueling the Cowboys on offense is an O-line ranked #1 in adjusted line yards and #4 in adjusted sack rate. To combat that beef up front is a Minnesota defensive line ranked 4th in adjusted sack rate, but #22 in adjusted line yards. Overall, Minnesota features the #9 rushing defense along with the 9th best passing defense, making this a pure strength on strength matchup.
Minnesota Offense vs. Cowboys Defense
Minnesota is not quite as strong as Dallas on the offensive line, ranking 5th in adjusted line yards, but just 15th in adjusted sack rate. The Cowboys fall off a bit on the defensive line, ranking 22nd in adjusted sack rate and 21st in adjusted line yards. So while Dallas looks to have the slight advantage on the offensive side of the ball against the Vikings defense, Minnesota may have even more of an advantage when their offense takes the field.
The Cowboys will need to be able to cover a wide variety of receivers from Minnesota, including Stephon Diggs, Adam Thielen and rookie tight end Irv Smith, Jr. This will be one of the biggest question marks going into the game as Dallas ranks 15th in defending the pass. What Minnesota really wants to do though, is run the ball with Dalvin Cook. Dallas again ranks 15th in run defense. Compared to Minnesota at #8 in rush efficiency, and #8 in passing efficiency, the edge goes to the road underdogs.
How to Bet Vikings Cowboys
This line opened at Cowboys -3 and will likely stay there all week long. These two teams are perceived as nearly dead even, and any movement off the number will likely be bet immediately back to the comforts of -3.
From my perspective, the Vikings may have a bigger edge on offense than the Cowboys, when compared to the defensive matchups. But in no way is that edge valuable enough to feel confident in Minnesota. This should be a must-watch game for handicapping the rest of the year, but it’s tough to find betting value in the spread. The smartest way to bet this game may be live wagering.
The total opened at 47 and has been bet up to 47.5 and 48 depending on where you look. While both of these offenses can be explosive, it’s not hard to imagine this becoming a defensive struggle.
The percentage of bets on Tuesday was split right down the middle, with the money slightly favoring Dallas. But as the week continued more of the bigger bets, and slightly more bets overall have been on the Cowboys. Currently, 57% of the bets and 61% of the money is on the Cowboys.
by Kyle Johansen