MINNEAPOLIS, Sporting Alert – In form Dallas Cowboys return to action on NFL Thursday Night Football against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
Game time on Thursday is set for 8:25 PM, with live coverage on NBC and streaming live on the NBC Sports Online.
The Cowboys (10-1) head into the clash with a 62 percent chance to beat Minnesota, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index.
Dallas is going in search of its 11th straight win this season, while the Vikings (6-5), who have dropped five of their last six games, will try and do something only the New York Giants have done so far this season.
That is to hand the NFC East division leaders a defeat for the first time since their opening game.
Cowboys Leading Rookies
Rookies Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott are having an outstanding first season in Dallas and the experts believe the Vikings must step up on defense if they are going to stop the visitors from rolling them over in their own back yard.
The pair have been so good this season that Tony Romo, who recently returned from injury, is now the backup to Prescott and might not play again this term, while Elliott is being “hailed by many as perhaps the best running back to enter the league since veteran Adrian Peterson.”
Elliott, who was drafted fourth overall by Dallas after deciding to leave Ohio State at the end of last term, currently leads the NFL with 1,199 rushing yards and sits second in rushing touchdowns with 11.
With five more games left in the regular season, he is expected to breeze past Peterson’s rookie numbers of 1,341 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns in 2007.
Elliott, who ran for 97 yards and a pair of scores in the 31-26 victory over Washington on Thanksgiving, will need special attention on Thursday night, something Vikings coach Mike Zimmer has acknowledged.
“Well, he’s one of the better backs I’ve seen in quite a while,” Zimmer said.
“He’s really an all-purpose guy that catches the ball very well out of the backfield. He’s quick into the hole; looks like he’s got great vision … He’s special.”
Zimmer also praised the early efforts of Prescott, who has so far thrown for 2,835 yards and 18 touchdowns, with a 108.6 quarterback rating, which ranks fourth in the league.
Meanwhile, Minnesota enters this home matchup in need of a win after failing to get positive results recently.
The Vikings opened the season with a 5-0 record, but then dropped four in a row after coming off a bye week.
Although they recovered to beat the Arizona Cardinals and stop the bleed in Week 11, they suffered another defeat on Thanksgiving, losing 16-13 to the Lions and need another pick-me-up.
“Obviously, I think everyone’s a little bit frustrated right now,” Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford, who is carrying an ankle injury that limitted him in Monday and Tuesday’s practice, said.
“For whatever reason, we just weren’t able to come back off the bye and play the way we have those first five games, and I think anytime you go through a stretch like we’ve had, people do get frustrated and it’s tough.”
Bradford, who has passed for 2,415 yards and 12 TDs this season, could face his stiffest test so far against a Dallas line that will force him to get rid of the ball very quickly.
Minnesota will be without running back Peterson, who is recovering from a knee injury, while cornerback Marcus Sherels (rib) and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (knee) have also been ruled out.