NFL Expert Picks: Minnesota Vikings vs. Dallas Cowboys SNF Preview and Best Bet
Key Note: The line has moved from Dallas -2.5 to Minnesota -3 since open, as uncertainty around Dak Prescott’s availability has taken center stage.
Minnesota Vikings vs. Dallas Cowboys SNF Preview
Sunday Night Football features a matchup of two teams coming out of Week 7 byes, with the Cowboys traveling north to visit the Vikings. Dak Prescott is the major storyline — after injuring his calf on the overtime winner in New England two weeks ago, Prescott has not been able to practice for two weeks, and 5.5 points of line movement suggests he’ll be out, although final word is he’ll be a game-time decision.
Discussion from the team has mostly sounded pessimistic, and I have to say the references to the Cowboys’ long-term goals are a bit interesting. With only one bye in the modern NFL, the Cowboys have plenty to play for, even as they sit 3.5 games up in the division. There’s a major advantage to earning the top seed, and there are five one-loss teams — including the Cowboys — in the hotly-contested NFC. Prescott certainly needs to be healthy for Dallas to make a real run, but color me at least a little skeptical Dallas won’t do everything they can to have Prescott ready, because while a loss at this stage wouldn’t be damaging to their division title chances, it would be pretty massive in their quest to potentially earn a bye and the major boost to Super Bowl odds that brings.
There’s been movement to the under as well, but it’s perhaps notable the total is still high, between 51.5 and 52.5, depending on the book. Minnesota has played a little faster this year than in past seasons, but they still lean run-heavy, and Dallas has had an efficient running game of their own this season with a reinvigorated Ezekiel Elliott leading the way and Tony Pollard providing explosive plays in a change-of-pace role. Defensively, Minnesota has been far easier to run on than pass against. Whether or not Prescott is in, my expectation is Dallas will be a little more run-focused, as they’ve been at times this season.
Dallas doesn’t have many defensive tendencies when it comes to stats like success rate, but we know the Vikings are going to feature Dalvin Cook. On both sides of the ball, this one feels like a game where we could see plenty of rush attempts, especially if the game stays close like the line indicates.
Minnesota Vikings vs. Dallas Cowboys Pick
The real question for the over/under will be explosive plays. Dallas ranks No. 1 offensively in explosive play rate, per Sharp Football Stats, creating them at a top-10 rate in both the passing and rushing game. Minnesota ranks No. 4 in the same stat; they’re third in the NFL in rushing explosives, and 11th while passing. Both teams boast a potential superstar second-year wide receiver who can take the lid off defense in Justin Jefferson and CeeDee Lamb, as well as effective veterans across from them in Adam Thielen and Amari Cooper.
But both defenses have been reasonably good at preventing explosive plays. Dallas has been bitten at times in the passing game — Jefferson’s prop numbers are lofty, but he’s a good bet for a big game — but the total may be high enough to stay under even if one or two hit. If the game does lean toward the run, that could limit overall play volume enough, as well.
Whether Prescott plays or not, this should be an exciting game. But with the high total, my play is on the under.
- Pick: Under 52