The Cowboys are coming off a needed bye week, but it hasn't been an easy time, with players going on and off the COVID-19 reserved list, including quarterback Andy Dalton, who is expected to start his third game with the Cowboys.
Minnesota is on the other end of the spectrum in a couple of ways. Yes, they're on a short week having played Monday, but the Vikings have won two straight games and have one of the best offensive players in football in tailback Dalvin Cook.
The DallasCowboys.com staff gives their 'gut feeling' for this Week 10 matchup:
Rob Phillips: I'm really looking forward to this matchup. As good as Pittsburgh is, Minnesota actually presents a greater test for the Cowboys' defense. In the past month, Dalvin Cook has joined the MVP race. He's been that good as a rusher and receiver. Justin Jefferson is having a terrific rookie season for them at receiver. I do think the Cowboys are figuring things out on defense. I believe we'll continue to see progress. And on offense, I think going back to Andy Dalton at quarterback is the right call. This will be a competitive game. But the Vikings are a little healthier at key positions, they've played complementary football during their three-game win streak, and their young defense is getting better, too. Minnesota in a close one, but an end to Dallas' four-game slide wouldn't surprise me either.
David Helman: The Cowboys deserve a lot of praise for the way they played against Pittsburgh, and they have been praised plenty. But let's not get it twisted: they lost, and this is now a 2-7 team that has lost four-straight games. Playing better in defeat is not enough to convince me that they've turned a corner. I've said it a lot this week, but this game really feels like a litmus test for the rest of the season. The Vikings are a solid but flawed team that is also clawing to remain alive in the playoff hunt. If the Cowboys are actually rounding into a better team, they should be able to keep this game close – or maybe even win it. Unfortunately, I don't see that second part happening. I think Minnesota has a slight edge at quarterback, and a definite edge with Dalvin Cook and their running game. I think Andy Dalton is going to play well and spark the offense to its best effort since Dak Prescott got hurt – something like 256 yards and two touchdowns. But I'm giving the edge to the Vikings, who will grind out a 27-21 win, largely thanks to Cook.
Nick Eatman: The Cowboys have certainly entered the "prove it" stage, where you just can't really count on them until they show you they can. In other years, maybe you get a better sense from what you see in practice or what you hear and see in the locker room. But all we're hearing is the confidence from the player on virtual interviews that they still believe this team is better than its 2-7 record. If that truly is the case, it needs to start showing up on Sundays, preferably this Sunday. Personally, I think the Cowboys are playing better but I do think the Vikings are as well. I just don't see the Vikings laying off the running game the way Pittsburgh and Philly did. Dalvin Cook was a problem last year and everything suggests he'll be more of the same. Who knows, maybe they rely on assistant coach George Edwards this week to help scout the Vikings. But I see another game to the wire, but I've got the Cowboys on the short end of a 23-20 outcome.
Kyle Youmans: Just a couple weeks after swearing that I would never pick the Cowboys until they strung together a couple wins in a row, here I am. Everything about this game says that Dallas should lose. Dalvin Cook will certainly take his fair share of production. Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen will each have their way against a secondary without Trevon Diggs. But for some reason, I've got the gut feeling that this team is starting to figure things out. Not only the Pittsburgh game, but even the showing against Philadelphia gives me hope heading into the weekend. I think this will be the most complementary form of football that Dallas has played all year, and they shock the world with a 23-16 win over Minnesota.