Sunday Night Football - Cowboys @ Vikings

Sunday Night Football, week 8 - Cowboys @ Vikings

Time: 8:20 PM ET, Oct. 31, 2021
Location: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minn.
Current Line: DAL -2.5  Total: 55

Fresh off a bye week, Dallas travels to Minnesota to take on the Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Cowboys (5-1) are the NFL’s last remaining team that is unbeaten against the spread. They will put that record on the line against a Minnesota team that historically has been pretty good against the Cowboys, at least against the spread. The Vikings are 10-2 ATS against the Cowboys in the last 12 meetings between the two teams.

The Vikings are 3-3 this season, but that could be misleading. Minnesota’s three losses have come by a total of just 11 points. Head coach Mike Zimmer’s team lost their season opener by a field goal to 5-2 Cincinnati and then the Vikings held their own against unbeaten Arizona in a 34-33 loss. Minnesota has won three of its last four. The only loss came when the Vikings offense was shut down by Cleveland in a 14-7 defeat.

Minnesota is improving, but there are still some holes. The run defense is one of them. The Vikings rank 26th against the run allowing 128 yards rushing per game. That could be a recipe for disaster against Dallas. The Cowboys are the second-ranked rush offense in the NFL. Dallas averages 164.3 yards rushing per game. Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard represent one of the best one-two punches in the league and both are among the NFL’s most efficient running backs.

Speaking of the Dallas offense, the Cowboys have been hard to stop especially recently. After beating the Chargers 20-17 in Week 2, Dallas has scored 35 or more points in four straight games. Their average of 34.2 points per game is the best in the NFL and is one of the reasons why they are a perfect 6-0 ATS.

The other reason is an improved defense. The Cowboys rank fifth against the run. That is something that Zimmer and the Vikings always try to establish – the running game. Dallas gives up just 86.2 yards on the ground per game. Then, there is the pass defense where Dallas CB Trevon Diggs has at least one interception in every game so far this season. Even if that doesn’t continue, the Vikings and QB Kirk Cousins will find the going tough against the Dallas defense.

Cousins has had his share of successes in Minnesota. In 2019, he guided the Vikings to the playoffs where they won their wild card game but lost in the divisional round. Cousins is 28-24-1 as a starter in Minnesota. He has also had his share of downfalls.

There are a few areas where Cousins – and Zimmer for that matter – struggle. One of those is coming off a bye. As an NFL starter, Cousins is just 1-7 ATS against teams that are coming off a bye. Remember, both Dallas and Minnesota had byes last week. It’s much the same for both Cousins and Zimmer in games with a point spread of 3 or less. The pair is 5-13 ATS in the last 18 such games.

Then, there is the whole Cousins in primetime deal. Kirk Cousins does not play well in primetime NFL games. In his career thus far, Cousins is just 3-10 straight up in spotlight primetime games.

This is a situation where oddsmakers may have gotten this line a bit wrong. Yes, the Vikings are playing at home. They tend to play good defense and keep the score down as evidenced by three straight home Unders. The Vikings have held three of their last four opponents to 17 points or less. Holding Dallas to even 20 or fewer points will be hard enough. With Cousins futility in primetime games and Dallas’s offense just crushing it, take the Cowboys -2.5 now just in case that line moves.

Back the Cowboys -2.5

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