NFL 2019 (Week 10): Minnesota Vikings at Dallas Cowboys

Russell S. Baxter

NFL 2019 (Week 10): Minnesota Vikings at Dallas Cowboys

By Jesse Pierson

Special to Pro Football Guru

Fans of run plays should get a kick out of this one, featuring the NFL’s third (Minnesota, 153.0) and fourth (Dallas, 149.3) most prolific rushing offenses in yards per game. Minnesota rides Dalvin Cook for the majority of their carries, and he has responded by leading the league in rushing to this point. Dallas opts for more of a balanced approach, as Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard, and Dak Prescott have all contributed at least 175 yards on the ground so far. Matching strength against strength, Minnesota’s run defense is eighth in the league at 95.8 yards allowed per game, and Dallas is close behind at 97.3, which ranks 10th. Whichever team gets the upper hand in this category is likely to take the win.

Vikings: Minnesota needs to rely on Cook to carry the load once again since receiver Adam Thielen will not play in this game, and head coach Mike Zimmer has listed Thielen as “week to week.” Fortunately for Cook, Kirk Cousins can still share the wealth with Stefon Diggs, Irv Smith Jr., Kyle Rudolph and Bisi Johnson. Cousins completed only 50 percent of his passes last week in Kansas City, which was a big factor in the Vikings losing that game. Cousins has also been sacked four times in the last two games, so expect an added focus on keeping him upright against Robert Quinn and DeMarcus Lawrence. On the other side of the ball, Danielle Hunter aims to continue his assault on opposing quarterbacks and add to the 8.5 sacks and 12 tackles for loss on his resume. Hunter’s running mate, tackle Linval Joseph, has been ruled out due to a knee injury, though.

Cowboys: Dallas, on the other hand, enters this game relatively healthy, with the one exception being game-changing receiver Amari Cooper. Cooper is listed as questionable with a knee injury but is still expected to play. Beyond that, all of Dallas’ starters are healthy (or as healthy as any NFL player can be at this point in the season). Leighton Vander Esch returns to action after sitting out of his team’s road win against the Giants last Monday. Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith factor heavily in the Cowboys’ defensive success this year. In addition to their 10th-ranked rush defense, they are also fifth in points allowed (17.8), seventh against the pass (220.9), and sixth in total yardage (318.1). Oh by the way, Minnesota is within two spots of Dallas in each of these categories as well. Prescott will need to continue his masterful execution of coordinator Kellen Moore’s offense, although he has thrown at least one interception in four of his last five games. The Cowboys’ lone home loss came just over a month ago, in which Prescott tossed up three picks against the Green Bay Packers.

Prediction: All three of Minnesota’s losses have come on the road, yet they did win their sole primetime game – a Thursday night affair versus Washington. Dallas is a step up in competition compared to the Redskins, and they will defend their home field against Cousins and Cook.

Dallas Cowboys 24, Minnesota Vikings 18

Jesse Pierson (@jessetpierson) is a former teacher and high school football coach who has written about the Colts for over a decade. He loves football, dogs, food, and comedy, and you can follow his work on his Facebook page, Jesse Pierson, Mediocre Writer.

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