Dallas (10-1) at Minnesota (6-5)
When: Thursday, December 1st 2016
Where: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
Time: 8:25 ET | TV: NBC
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The Dallas Cowboys ride a ten-game winning streak into Minnesota on Thursday night as the Vikings will look to keep pace in the NFC North race. Both teams will be playing their third game in 12 days, but that hasn’t effected the Cowboys momentum as they have won every game on their schedule since Week 1. Dallas is entering a rough finishing stretch with three tough road games (Minnesota, NY Giants, Philadelphia) and owner Jerry Jones said they’re not easing the workload of running back Ezekiel Elliott. The rookie from Ohio State has vaulted himself into MVP consideration with his league-leading 1,199 rushing yards. “The more we give Ezekiel the ball, then I think the better,” Jones said of Elliott, who also has rushed for 11 touchdowns. “We’re winning with that. We’re wearing them down on defense.” The Cowboys other MVP-candidate is quarterback Dak Prescott, who has 18 TD passes against only two interceptions and has posted a passer rating of at least 100 in nine of the last 10 games. The Cowboys have the 5th best defense as far as points allowed (19.4), but are 31st against the pass (280.4). Dallas can clinch a playoff spot with a victory and either a loss by Washington or a loss or tie by Tampa Bay.
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The Vikings 5-0 start to the season is a thing of the past as they have now lost five of their last six after Thanksgiving Day’s 16-13 loss at Detroit. That loss put the Vikings a game behind Detroit in the division with just five games left. Minnesota cornerback Xavier Rhodes has as many interceptions as the Cowboys and is part of a defense that ranks second in the league with 17.5 points allowed and leads the NFC with a +12 turnover differential. With a non-existent running game (32nd) and an offense that has been limited to 16 points of fewer four times in the last six games, quarterback Sam Bradford needs to step up and take shots downfield, especially against the poor Dallas secondary. Bradford (ankle) has been limited in practice this week and really hopes he has the services of leading wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who had 40 receptions over a four-game stretch prior to sitting out last week’s loss against the Lions with a knee injury. Bradford split a pair of games against the Cowboys last season with Philadelphia, throwing for 295 yards and a TD in the last one.
Bradford has some success against the Cowboys last season and should have a good game. Dallas’ offense hasn’t faced a defense like this and the Vikings will be ready in front of their home crowd. This will be a tight battle to the end, so I’ll take the points in this one.
Pick: Vikings +3