The Cowboys’ overtime loss to the Green Bay Packers served as a gut punch in more ways than one. Head coach Mike McCarthy came up short in his emotional return to Lambeau Field. The defense saw its season-long struggles to stop the run rear its ugly head again, and then there were the turnovers and blown lead. The Cowboys sit third in the NFC East behind the Philadelphia Eagles & the New York Giants.
Vikings Tied For The Best Record At (8-1)
Enter the Vikings, and a team reincarnated this season under first-year head coach Kevin O’Connell. With an offense that boasts one of the best NFL talent collection. With an 8-1 record and a signature win under their belt after completing the comeback on the road against the Bills in overtime last week, the Vikings argue that they are the hottest team in the sport.
The Vikings played the game of the season in their overtime thriller against the Bills last week. Trailing 24-10 at the half, Minnesota rallied back in the fourth quarter to take the lead. First, thanks to a ridiculous Justin Jefferson one-handed catch and a fumble recovery in the end zone for a touchdown by the defense. After that, Kirk Cousins passed for over 350 yards, one score, and two interceptions. Jefferson was sensational, with ten catches for almost 200 yards, and Cook ran for nearly 120 yards and a touchdown.
Justin Jefferson has been one of the best, if not the best, receiver in the NFL this season. He has over 100 receiving yards in four of his last five games while ranking second in receiving yards overall this year. The Cowboys did well in neutralizing him in their meeting last season. However, holding him to just two catches for 21 yards.
Almost every team in the NFL would love to have the collection of offensive talent the Vikings possess. We’ve mentioned both Jefferson and Cook, but don’t forget about Adam Thielen and trade deadline acquisition T.J. Hockenson from the Lions. The Cowboys saw Hockenson back in Week 8 when he had four.
The Vikings could be without key defensive players when they take on the Cowboys. Both cornerback Akayleb Evans and linebacker Za’Darius Smith left the Bills game early with a concussion and knee contusion, respectively. Outside of that, offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw also left early with a concussion.
For as much attention as the Vikings’ high-powered offense has rightfully garnered this season, the defense has done its part, although not without some blemishes. They rank near the bottom in passing yards allowed and are slightly better at stopping the run. However, they force turnovers at a high rate with 16 takeaways and rank second in turnover differential.
The cowboys Should Exploit The Vikings Pass Defense!
The main result of the Dallas Cowboys’ undoing against the Green Bay Packers could very well be an issue again this weekend against the Vikings. After surrendering over 200 rushing yards to the Pack, Dallas will be saddled with a tall task in slowing down Vikings running back Dalvin Cook. Cook sliced his way to a 119-yard performance, highlighted by an 81-yard touchdown run against the Buffalo Bills. This time, unfortunately, it won’t be any easier for a Cowboys defense that ranks 29th in run defense.
The Cowboys decided to play it safe with Ezekiel Elliott, and his knee sprained by sitting him for a second consecutive game. After missing the Bears matchup in Week 9, followed by more rest during the bye, Elliott practiced last week but did not play in Green Bay. Meanwhile, Tony Pollard has filled in wonderfully. That said, Elliott likely returns to the lineup alongside Pollard in the backfield to complete the 1-2 punch.
After losing cornerback Jourdan Lewis to a season-ending foot injury against the Lions, the Cowboys saw another corner leave the game early against the Packers when Anthony Brown suffered a concussion. While the injuries have opened up opportunities for rookie DaRon Bland and second-year man Kelvin Joseph, McCarthy said on Monday that, although it is too early in the week to make a decision, he did think Brown “definitely has a chance to play Sunday.”
Perhaps no player has benefited more from the return of Prescott than CeeDee Lamb. Lamb had the Cowboys’ first 100-yard receiving game this season against the Packers with 150 yards and two touchdowns. In the three games since Prescott’s returned, Lamb has seen his receptions, targets, yards, and touchdowns all increase.
The Cowboys will need that duo to continue their chemistry to get back on track against the Vikings. Tune in Sunday, Washington Commanders vs. Houston Texans, 11 a.m., Fox. Will the Texans finally break through for another win? And that’s… “The Lex Of It”