IRVING, Texas –The Cowboys are 4-4, halfway to their regular-season record of the past two years. With the Saints coming up next week, this matchup with the Vikings seems crucial for the Cowboys to get back over .500.
Here are the gut feelings for staff writers Nick Eatman, Bryan Broaddus, David Helman and Rowan Kavner.
A home game against a 1-6 squad with a struggling defense and no clear answer at quarterback. Basically, this is the easiest game remaining on the Cowboys' schedule, in my humble opinion. It's not must-win in an immediate, win-or-go-home sense, but they certainly can't afford to drop a game to a team that will be in contention for the top pick in the draft. And I don't think they will. The Cowboys have been excellent at starting well this season, and I think they'll have 10 or 14 points by the end of the first quarter. An early deficit will make it hard for Minnesota to pound the rock with Adrian Peterson, and it should lead to more pass attempts. Pass attempts mean interceptions. I think the Cowboys get two, with one of them coming from Jeff Heath. It's not going to be a high-flying beatdown, but I think Dallas works its way to an efficient, one-sided, 27-13 win.
The Cowboys should win this one. It's the first and last time I'll say that this year, given the rest of games on their schedule, and I don't call it a "must-win" like some games have been labeled before. They just should win it against a one-win team that doesn't know their starting quarterback on any given week and boasts a struggling defense. The Cowboys' defensive injuries could make this interesting, though. I think after a couple down weeks, Jason Witten finds the end zone, as does Terrance Williams to give the rookie five straight scoring games. DeMarco Murray also adds another, while either B.W. Webb or Micah Pellerin picks off a pass en route to a two-score win.
This is one of the games where we won't really find out if the Cowboys can be contenders. But we'll find out for sure if they aren't. If they lose to the Vikings or even play down to their level, it won't be a good sign, considering they've got some tough games coming up. I see this one playing out like the Rams game a few weeks ago. The Cowboys are that much better and they'll show it. I see a big day from Jason Witten, who hasn't done much in recent weeks. I don't see Terrance Williams extending his streak of touchdown grabs, but he'll play well. I do see the Cowboys out-rushing the Vikings, but in a collective effort. And Brandon Carr bounces back this week with at least one interception, but I'm thinking he might get two. I'm seeing a 17-point win by the Cowboys at least.
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Bryan Broaddus: When you team is 1 – 6, not much is going right for you but if there is a bright spot on this Vikings defense, it is the play of Jared Allen. No matter what the score or situation, Allen is going to give you everything he has. He is a relentless player in every sense of the word and there is no quit to his game . Tyron Smith was drafted by the Cowboys to play against guys like Allen and keep them from being that disruptive player. Despite what happened with the holding call last week against the Lions, Smith has brought his "A" game each week. He has been consistent with his technique and finish which has allowed him to be rock solid on that left side. My gut tells me that Tyron Smith finds a way to pitch a shutout in his matchup with Jared Allen this Sunday.