Thursday Night Football Pick

Posted: 12/01/2016 by levcohen in Football

My Week 12 review will come later, but Week 13 is already upon us, and this week’s Thursday Night Football game is a whole lot more important than most of the generally crappy TNF games, so I figured that I should give it more attention. This is the first Thursday Night Football game between winning teams since Week 3, when the Patriots demolished the Texans 27-0. But you know what I think about the Texans, and hopefully this game is a better one. There have really only been two enthralling TNF games this year, and those were Jets-Bills in Week 2 and Saints-Panthers last week. Maybe this game will become #3.

Dallas Cowboys (10-1, 10-1 against the spread) at Minnesota Vikings (6-5, 6-5):*
Spread: Cowboys favored by 3
Over/under: 43.5
My prediction: We last saw both of these teams on Thanksgiving, when the Cowboys won the most entertaining game of the day and the Vikings lost the least entertaining one. It is, of course, not a surprise that all of the public money is on Dallas. They’re winners of 10 straight games, and they’re only laying three points against a team that is just 1-5 since starting 5-0. To make matters worse for the Vikings, they’re going to be without coach Mike Zimmer, who underwent emergency surgery for a torn retina. But it’s never as straightforward as it seems. This could be a game in which the Vikings’ offense gets going a little bit. They’ve been abysmal on the road but are 4-1 with three 24+ point showings at home, where the offensive line is a little bit more comfortable and Sam Bradford has some time to throw. Bradford gets Stefon Diggs back from injury, and the Cowboys rank 27th in DVOA against the pass and 30th against the pass to tight ends, which means that big target Kyle Rudolph should have some room to operate. Heck, maybe the Vikings can even get something going on the ground… Ok, maybe that’s too much to ask for from a team averaging 2.8 yards per carry this season. Still, they should be able to move the ball enough to keep it close, which should give them a great chance to win if they can win the special teams and/or turnover battle.

The Vikings are +12 in the turnover battle this season, significantly better than the Cowboys (+3). They also have a great return game, thanks largely to Cordarrelle Patterson. They’ll need to utilize that, because the Cowboys are probably going to be able to move the ball against them, just as they have all season. The Vikings are just 16th in DVOA against the run, but they should have some chance of slowing down Ezekiel Elliott if they sell out to stop the run. Of course, that will give Dak Prescott chances in the passing game, but the Vikings are good against the pass.

The talent deficiency is clear, but the Vikings are in must-win territory and match up relatively well with the Cowboys. I think they’ll ride their homefield advantage and win 24-21.
Vikings cover
Over

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