The Vikings have lost five of six to fall out of playoff position and may not have their coach after he was scheduled to have emergency eye surgery Wednesday night.. The Cowboys have won 10 straight to establish themselves as the top team in the NFC. The Vikings, tough to beat at home, will put up a prime-time fight. But the Cowboys have too many horses. Prediction: Cowboys 27, Vikings 20.
Three big storylines
NEXT LINEMAN UP
With steady C Joe Berger out because of a concussion, second-year lineman Nick Easton will make his first NFL start. Easton went to Harvard, so get ready for the Matt Birk comparisons on NBC’s telecast.
The Vikings defense is banged up heading into this showdown with one of the NFL’s top offenses, but S Harrison Smith, MLB Eric Kendricks and CB Terence Newman are expected to suit up.
Playing behind an offensive line that Mike Zimmer called one of the best he’s seen in a long time, a pair of Cowboys rookies, QB Dak Prescott and RB Ezekiel Elliott, continue to play at a Pro Bowl level.
Two key matchups
VIKINGS NT LINVAL JOSEPH vs. COWBOYS C TRAVIS FREDERICK
Frederick centers a Dallas offensive line that boasts a trio of former first-round picks, including Frederick and RG Zack Martin. Both will grapple with Joseph as the Cowboys look to run all over the struggling Vikings D.
VIKINGS RB JERICK MCKINNON vs. COWBOYS LB SEAN LEE
The Cowboys D, despite ranking fifth in scoring, is short of playmakers. But Lee, the tackling machine out of Penn State, is a threat to barge into the backfield to stuff McKinnon, who showed a little bit of life last week.
One stat that matters
157.3 — rushing yards per game for Dallas in 2016, more than double Minnesota’s average.
The Vikings will win if...
They dominate time of possession by converting third downs and shutting down the Dallas rushing attack, and Prescott makes a couple of uncharacteristic mistakes.
The Cowboys will win if ...
They keep doing what they’ve been doing, relying on Prescott to protect the ball and riding Elliott to become the latest opponent to top 100 rushing yards against the Vikings.
Vensel’s win probability