Cow­boys could clinch post­sea­son berth

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Barry Wilner

Here’s a mea­sure of just how good things are go­ing in Big D. One team can clinch a play­off berth this week­end: the Cow­boys.

Dal­las vis­its Min­nesota on Thurs­day night. With a vic­tory and ei­ther a loss by Wash­ing­ton or a loss/tie by Tampa Bay gets the Cow­boys into the post­sea­son pa­rade.

Min­nesota’s de­fense should pro­vide a de­cent chal­lenge for rookie sen­sa­tions Ezekiel El­liott, the league’s lead­ing rusher, and quar­ter­back Dak Prescott. If the Vik­ings can get some sort of pen­e­tra­tion through the best offensive line in foot­ball, they could have a chance.

But they must steer clear of falling be­hind against Dal­las, some­thing most Cow­boys op­po­nents haven’t avoided.

The Cow­boys are ranked atop the AP Pro32 as they go for an 11th straight win since their open­ing loss to the Gi­ants, who they take on next week.

Min­nesota (No. 14 (tie), AP Pro32) has fallen on hard times since be­ing the league’s last un­beaten team at 5-0 and now is 6-5 — and a 3-point un­der­dog at home.

Dal­las takes the first step to­ward that play­off clinch­ing. COW­BOYS, 24-16 KNOCK­OUT LEAGUE TIP: Haven’t liked any­thing we’ve seen lately from Hous­ton, so put on those Cheese­heads and take GREEN BAY.

No. 9 (tie) Lions (plus 4 1-2) at No. 22 Saints

A some­what un­usual se­lec­tion for Pro Picks’ Best Bet, but Lions should cover, Saints should win. So ...

BEST BET: SAINTS, 31-29

No. 9 (tie) Red­skins (plus 3) at No. 25 Car­di­nals

Red­skins get the proper amount of rest — and then some — this time.

UP­SET SPE­CIAL: RED­SKINS, 26-21

No. 14 (tie) Buc­ca­neers (plus 3 1-2) at No. 21 Charg­ers

Far more in­ter­est­ing matchup than it ap­peared three weeks ago.

CHARG­ERS, 28-27

No. 23 Colts (mi­nus-1) at No. 28 Jets

Far less in­ter­est­ing matchup than ESPN hoped.

JETS, 24-22

No. 24 Pan­thers (plus 6 1-2) at No. 5 Sea­hawks

A bit less in­ter­est­ing matchup than NBC hoped when sched­ule came out.

SEA­HAWKS, 23-20

No. 16 Bills (plus 3) at No. 3 Raiders

Raiders showed lots of grit last week, might need it again.

RAIDERS, 23-17

No. 6 Bron­cos (mi­nus 4) at No. 30 Jaguars

Tough spot for Bron­cos af­ter that war with Chiefs? Prob­a­bly not.

BRON­COS, 20-10

No. 4 Chiefs (plus 4) at No. 8 Fal­cons

Tough spot for Chiefs af­ter that war with Bron­cos? For sure.

FAL­CONS, 26-16

No. 18 Tex­ans (plus 3 1-2) at No. 19 Pack­ers

Tex­ans seem as if they are chas­ing Ti­tans de­spite lead­ing AFC South. PACK­ERS, 24-16

No. 27 Rams (plus 13) at No. 2 Pa­tri­ots

Pa­tri­ots haven’t been real force in past month. That changes here.

PA­TRI­OTS, 33-13

No. 20 Ea­gles (pickem) at No. 26 Ben­gals

Both teams can look to 2017 now.

EA­GLES, 19-17

No. 11 Dol­phins (plus 3 1-2) at No. 13 Ravens

By far the most per­plex­ing game this week.

RAVENS, 16-14

No. 7 Gi­ants (plus 6) at No. 12 Steel­ers

2004 first-round QBs and Su­per Bowl win­ners Eli vs. Ben. Gi­ants’ win­ning string ends here.

STEEL­ERS, 27-24

No. 31 49ers (plus 4) at No. 29 Bears

Won’t get many worse matchups than this one. 49ERS, 14-13 Last Week: Against spread (10-6). Straight up: (11-5)

Sea­son To­tals: Against spread (84-84-6). Straight up: (103-71-2)

Best Bet: 6-6 against spread, 8-4 straight up.

Up­set spe­cial: 5-6-1 against spread, 5-7 straight up

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