NFL Week 8 Best Bets: Cowboys vs. Vikings Sunday Night Football Picks

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Vikings RB Alexander Mattison #25 hurdles Donte Jackson #26 of the Panthers during Week 6. Grant Halverson/Getty Images/AFP

The Dallas Cowboys (5-1) return from their bye week in search of a sixth-straight win as they take on the Minnesota Vikings (3-3), who also had a bye week. This one should be a great game so let’s get into the NFL odds for the matchup.

Dallas Cowboys vs. Minnesota Vikings

Sunday, October 31, 2021 – 08:20 PM EDT at U.S. Bank Stadium

The Cowboys are a 2.5-point favorite at many of the top sportsbooks. Dallas is the only perfect team (6-0) against the spread this season. The Vikings have a very talented offense that piled up 571 yards in their overtime win in Carolina in Week 6. This could be a shootout on Sunday night with a total of 55 points (highest in Week 8).

Last Meeting and Recent Play

Two of last season’s more disappointing teams, the Vikings lost a tough one to Dallas in Week 11 last November. Minnesota started 1-5 but clawed back to 4-5 and hoped to continue its run against a Dallas team with Andy Dalton playing for the injured Dak Prescott. Justin Jefferson caught a go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, but Dalton threw a game-winning touchdown pass to Dalton Schultz with 1:37 left. Kirk Cousins was unable to get a first down and the Vikings lost 31-28, dropping to 4-6 before finishing 7-9.

Cousins played very well in that game, finishing with a 140.1 passer rating, his highest ever in a loss. Dalvin Cook (115 rushing yards) and Ezekiel Elliott (103 yards) both rushed for over 100 yards while both Jefferson and CeeDee Lamb flashed with touchdowns for their rookie campaigns.

Fast forward to this year and both running backs look good, both of those wideouts are doing great things in their second year, Cousins is having a solid season, and Prescott is an MVP candidate for Dallas. An offensive shootout of last year’s caliber on Sunday night would be great, but which defense is likely to step up?

The Defenses

Minnesota has gone through many changes on the defensive side from last season. The results are encouraging so far after a terrible 2020 season. Through Week 7, the Vikings rank fifth in yards per drive allowed and eighth in points allowed per drive. That’s better than Dallas (15th in yards and 13th in points), though turnovers are where these units differ the most.

The Vikings are mediocre at 18th in takeaways per drive while Dallas has been incredible with a takeaway on 21.2% of drives, second in the NFL. Corner Trevon Diggs is having an absurd second season after intercepting a pass in all six games so far. He’s returned two of his seven picks for touchdowns. The Cowboys have had multiple takeaways in all six games this year.

Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb catches the game-winning touchdown against the Patriots in Week 6. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images/AFP

Last season, the Cowboys had three takeaways in their first seven games, so this is the area where new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has seen the most improvement. However, this turnover luck is likely to regress any day now for Dallas, so more traditional stops will have to start coming more frequently.

When they’re not intercepting passes, the Cowboys are allowing 8.2 yards per attempt to opposing passers, and Cousins can certainly take advantage of that in this matchup.

The Cowboys have moved the ball well all season, but they only rank 27th in points per red zone trip. That area of the field has been a problem at times, though Dak has been robbed of a couple of touchdowns by bad officiating at the goal line already. Both teams are going to move the ball well in this matchup, so it should come down to that situational play on third down and in the red zone.

Prediction

These teams have played 12 games combined this year and seven of them had a clutch field goal attempt in the final seconds. Had it not been for a Cook fumble in overtime against the Bengals and a missed 37-yard field goal in Arizona, the Vikings would be 5-1 right now just like Dallas.

But even if the Vikings finished those two drives and were 5-1, Dallas would still be the superior team on paper with the quarterback you’re more willing to trust with the game on the line. Prescott is 18-18 (.500) at game-winning drive opportunities in his career while Cousins is 19-33-2 (.370).

This should be a good game that comes down to the final drive. I am going to trust that the bye week was good for Prescott’s calf injury and he will be fine on Sunday night. I am going to pick the Cowboys to continue the spread streak and cover in this one to end your Sunday NFL picks.

NFL Pick: Cowboys -2.5 (-105) at Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

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Cowboys -2.5 (-105)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.