Point Spread: Minnesota +1.5
Vikings (1-1) hosting the Cowboys (1-1) this week figures to be an even matchup, as the 1.5 point spread reflects. These teams may be the two most unbalanced in the NFL this preseason. The Cowboys are averaging 329 yards per game on offense but allowing just under 300 and 21.5 points per game on defense. The Vikings are their polar opposite; scoring only 11.5 points per game while allowing only 10.5.
The ‘Boys’ offense is seventh in the league to this point in rushing yards per attempt, averaging a very respectable 4.7, while the Vikings’ defense is allowing 4.2 yards per attempt, a very pedestrian nineteenth. It is very uncharacteristic of the Vikings defense to allow the opposition to run the ball on them as they have the first two weeks of the preseason. Look for their run defense to tighten up a bit this week with the number one defense playing deeper into the game. It will be interesting to see how Dallas handles Tony Romo, still coming off of his broken collarbone. Typically in week three of the preseason the starters play close to three quarters, but the Cowboys may be cautious to do so with their recovered/recovering quarterback.
To put it nicely: the Cowboys’ defense has not been good so far in the preseason. It is obvious that they are still adjusting to new defensive coordinator, Rob Ryan’s scheme. They are allowing 21.5 points per game as they work through the learning process. Having said that, the Vikings’ offense has not looked any better under new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave. Minnesota has only managed to muster 11.5 points (ranked 26th) and 285 yards (ranked 24th) per game. The Vikings have had some success running the ball, however. They are averaging 4.9 yards per rushing attempt, which is fifth in the league to this point, even though stud running back Adrain Peterson has only carried the ball seven times for nineteen yards. I look for the Vikings to show some improvement on the offensive side this week and put up some points on the struggling Cowboys.
While both teams have struggled with turnovers and penalties, Dallas has been the worse of the two teams. The Cowboys have amassed an amazing 257 penalty yards in only two games. While they will probably cut down a bit on the penalties as the preseason goes on, look for Dallas to still give up plenty of free yards. The turnover battle has been a losing on to this point for the Jason Garret’s squad as well. They are currently minus four in turnover ratio. As we all know, negative turnover ratio often equates to negative results.
Look for the Vikings to win the game. Take Minnesota and the 1.5 points.