Dallas Cowboys Defense Faces Big Test Against Vikings
It is a big night in Big D this Sunday when the Dallas Cowboys square off against the Minnesota Vikings! In my opinion, the Vikings have a similar team as the New York Giants in concept with better players. Meaning, an electrifying running back, better quarterback and a more solid defense. However, the Cowboys are at home and that can make a difference in a hotly contested football game.
The Dallas defense will face running back Dalvin Cook who leads the NFL in carries and rushing yards. He can also catch the ball well out of the backfield on screen plays in particular. Wide receiver Stefon Diggs must be watched in a defensive secondary but without receiving mate Adam Thielen which is a huge loss for the Vikings (If he cannot play), he can be bracketed by two players which forces Minnesota to look elsewhere in the passing game. There is tight end Kyle Rudolph who has excelled during his career. Quarterback Kirk Cousins doesn't have the offensive line that Dallas does and this should allow the front 7 of Dallas to apply pressure, disrupt and hurry Cousins into some possible mistakes. Cousins is a better passer off "play action" faking the handoff to his running back and throwing. This is where the Vikings could find success.
Who for the Cowboys shall be called upon to lead the defensive charge? Up front, Demarcus Lawrence, Robert Quinn, Michael Bennett, Antwaun Woods and Maliek Collins. This is a formidable group and that's not an exhaustive list. Combine the defensive front with a healthy cornerback Byron Jones, along with Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown, there are matchups and schemes for the Cowboys to use. Although the safeties may at times leave questions, as long as they do not allow the receivers to get behind them, they "can be" average and win. The linebackers have been strong and even without Leighton Vander Esch, Sean Lee has been himself free of injury and a stop 'em in their tracks tackler. The constant has been Jaylen Smith who is getting better throughout the season.
Points for the Cowboys have been in the 30s the last two games and the offense posts some of the best numbers in the NFL. As long as Dallas doesn't sit on its laurels and continues to keep its pace, it should score the requisite amount of points to win, especially at home against the Vikings. Interestingly, Minnesota gives up a lot of points early and is most vulnerable on first down. Here, new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore should be aggressive in his play-calling to keep the Vikings at bay and allow for big gains on the early down(s). The Vikings can cover against the pass however, this means Dallas needs to find matchup advantages such as Michael Gallup against Xavier Rhodes. Cornerback is the area of vulnerability for Minnesota, so attack it, Dak Prescott should be firing and spinning the ball to his receivers with a nice dose of Ezekiel Elliott in a mostly run however some pass patterns to keep its opponent guessing. Tight end Jason Witten has been a steady recipient of passes from Dak and that doesn't need to change as long as Amari Cooper is involved. Cooper loves AT&T Stadium and averages over 100-yards receiving in this stadium.
I will give the special teams edge to Dallas and see which team wants to create the most turnovers as well. The head coaches know each other well as they have been on the same team and side in Dallas. This win be a hard fought game in which the victor will execute best. The advantage goes to Dallas, now they will have to play the same advantageous way and get the win.