Minnesota Vikings at Dallas Cowboys
Kickoff: 5:20 p.m. PT
It’s no secret that unders have been all the rage in Sunday Night Football games this season, even being flawless on these NBC broadcasts up until two weeks ago.
This week’s iteration will feature a rare matchup in which the offenses and defenses of both teams are all ranked in the top 10 of the NFL. Arguably the two best running backs will also be on opposite ends of the field, which has to be seen as the backbone of this bet.
Handing the ball off to either Dalvin Cook or Ezekiel Elliott, both teams understandably implement a run-heavy gameplan. Cook is currently first in the league in rushing while Elliott, a two-time rushing champion in his own right, isn’t far off despite playing one fewer game.
All of that adds up to a more methodical-type pace dictated by the two tailbacks. Of course, that means there’s also more of an increased threat for big runs, but that’s where the effectiveness of both defenses comes into play. The Vikings and Cowboys are two of only 10 teams or less than one-third of football that have yielded less than 20 “explosive” running plays, as defined by Sharp Stats.
These two defenses do a good job limiting “explosive” pass plays as well, meaning you really have to earn your points when faced with this challenging opposition. With an over/under near 50, that therefore presents a game flow that would only be welcomed for low-scoring hopes.
The quarterbacks could always throw a wrench into things but I’m not too scared of either one under center in this spot. There’s no doubt Dak Prescott is enjoying a very nice season, one that could be Pro Bowl-worthy, but the fact remains that this offense revolves around Elliott. It also may hinder Prescott’s performance that his No. 1 wideout Amari Cooper enters this affair banged up and must have to contend with lockdown corner Xavier Rhodes.
Kirk Cousins, meanwhile, will be without his most trusting target, Adam Thielen. That certainly played a role last week when the former Washington Redskin failed to complete more than 50 percent of his passes in game for only the third time in his 82 career starts — and that was against a far lesser-ranking defense in Kansas City.
Cousins will now take on a unit that allows the seventh-fewest yards through the air per game (220.9).
Additionally, only two clubs have given up less passing touchdowns than the seven surrendered by Dallas.
Perhaps above all is the signal-caller’s much-discussed track record against quality competition. In fact, Cousins is 5-27 lifetime against teams with a winning record and as a Viking, he’s 1-9 in such ballgames. It’s also worth noting that he’s 1-6 in his career opposite the Cowboys.
This is someone that has journeyed through countless peaks and valleys. His most recent performance, combined with tonight’s tough predicament, indicates there could be further depth to the valley at hand. I’m buying the half-point, too, as I feel this one is going to be close. Play: UNDER 48.5 (-120)
Last Week’s Result: Redskins-Bills Under 38 (WIN)
Zylbert’s 2019 NFL Over/Under Betting Record*: 6-4, +1.2 unit
*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit