Nail-biter likely as Vikings host Cowboys in crucial NFC clash

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The Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings face off in Week 11 in a potentially pivotal NFC clash, and history says it will be a tense game that goes down to the wire.

Having stunned the Buffalo Bills in overtime last week, the 8-1 Vikings are only behind the Philadelphia Eagles in the race for the top seed in the NFC on the head-to-head tiebreaker.

Philadelphia's loss to the Washington Commanders on Monday gave hope to the 6-3 Cowboys that they can catch the Eagles in the NFC East.

To bolster their hopes of doing so, the Cowboys will need to come through what will likely be a closely fought contest in Minneapolis.

The last six regular-season games between the Cowboys and Vikings have all been decided by four points or fewer, the longest streak between any two NFL teams since the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers had a six-game streak from 2008 to 2010. The last teams to do so in seven straight meetings were the Carolina Panthers and Washington from 1998 to 2009.

Minnesota have made a habit of winning close games in 2022. Indeed, seven of the Vikings' eight victories have been by one score.

And, even if the Cowboys do take a double-digit lead against the Vikings, they cannot be sure of it being safe.

Dallas gave up a 14-point lead against Green Bay Packers in Week 10 and lost in overtime. That snapped a Cowboys streak of 195 consecutive wins when leading by 14+ points entering the fourth quarter (including postseason). It was the longest such run in NFL history.

Now the Cowboys face a Vikings team that has overturned a fourth-quarter double-digit deficit to win three times in 2022, tying the 1980 Miami Dolphins, 2000 New York Jets, 2003 Indianapolis Colts and 2011 Detroit Lions for the most such victories in a single season.

Dallas will be looking for a significantly better performance in pass defense this week, having allowed a success rate through the air of 52.2 per cent against the Packers. Only six defenses allowed a higher rate of successful plays in Week 10.

If they fail to improve on their struggles in the loss at Lambeau Field, it figures to be a long day for the Cowboys' defense against arguably the top receiver in the NFL.

Justin Jefferson produced an astonishing 10-catch, 193-yard display in the win over the Bills, including his phenomenal fourth-down catch that kept the Vikings' hopes alive in the fourth quarter.

He has 814 receiving yards over his last six games, the most in a six-game span in Vikings history and the most by any NFL player over a six-game span in a single season since Antonio Brown had 868 in 2015.

The level to which the Cowboys are able to restrict his ability to add to that tally may have a significant bearing on whether Dallas can put themselves in the mix to be top dog in the NFC.