The Dallas Cowboys will try to keep their division lead with a victory over the 1-6 Minnesota Vikings on Sunday afternoon at AT&T Stadium.
Tony Romo and the Cowboys held a 10 point lead with less than 12 minutes left in the fourth quarter against Detroit last week, only to give up 24 points and a last second rushing touchdown for a 31-30 loss.
Dallas is still first in the NFC East at 4-4, but lost an opportunity to pad its lead after second place Philadelphia lost to the New York Giants.
The Vikings have lost three straight, but do have some stability at quarterback with Christian Ponder. Minnesota ran a gauntlet for three different quarterbacks in as many weeks, with Ponder, Josh Freeman, and Matt Cassel.
Expected to start Sunday, Ponder went 14-for-21 for 145 yards and a rushing touchdown in last week’s 44-31 loss to rival Green Bay, and rookie receiver Cordarrelle Patterson ran the opening kick-off back 109 yards for a touchdown.
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Thanks to Patterson, the Vikings are one of only two teams with at least one kickoff return score, and they are first in the NFL with 763 return yards and 33.2 yards per attempt.
The Dallas secondary dropped to last in the NFL after giving up 329 receiving yards to Calvin Johnson last week, the second most in a single game in league history.
Romo went 14-for-30 for 206 yards and three touchdowns, while Dez Bryant totaled three catches for 72 yards and two scores.
Bryant received some flak this week for his histrionics on the sideline after Dallas gave up the winning touchdown, and had to be restrained by veterans Jason Witten and inactive defensive end DeMarcus Ware.
Dallas head coach Jason Garrett actually praised Bryant’s passion.
"The biggest thing is everybody was just really telling him the same thing — 'Dez, we love you, we understand what you're saying, but let's get ready for the next play,' and that's the way it was," Garrett said to USA Today. "I've been around, in my career, some really, really passionate players and coaches and they typically tend to be the best ones."
Bryant could focus that passion on the Vikings secondary, which isn’t any better than Dallas at 29th in the league.
Already missing top safety Harrison Smith with a toe injury, Minnesota has already ruled starting corner Chris Cook out with a hip injury. Defensive tackle Fred Evans is also out due to a bum knee.
Ware will reportedly miss another game, according to NFL.com, with a thigh injury, and corner Morris Claiborne will be out with a hamstring strain. Receiver Miles Austin is doubtful with a bad hamstring, likely meaning more work for Terrance Williams.
Betting Odds: Dallas is favored by 10 points
Over/Under: 48 points
Where To Watch Online: NFL Sunday Ticket
TV Channel: FOX
Time: 1 p.m. Eastern Time
Prediction: Dallas 34, Minnesota 24