Opponent Player of the Week
Running Back - Dalvin Cook
2020 Stats: 954 Rushing Yards, 119 yards per game, 12 rushing touchdowns, 189 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown
The Dallas Cowboys number one focus on defense will be to stop the leading rusher in the NFL, something that very few teams have been able to do this season with Cook averaging 119 yards per game and 5.5 yards per carry. Not only is Cook effective in the running game, but he’s just as good in the passing game on screen plays and short passes out to the flat to help quarterback Kirk Cousins move the chains.
The Cowboys defensive tackles have stepped up their game after the release of Dontari Poe and insertion of Antwuan Woods and Neville Gallimore. That, in turn, helped linebackers Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith get to the ball carrier last game. The Cowboys need to grab the advantage in the trenches against the Vikings so they have a chance to stop Cook.
Cowboys Offensive X-Factor Players
Cowboys Offensive Line
The Cowboys offensive line has been the Achilles heel for the Cowboys to this point in the season on offense. Against the Steelers, they looked like they started to gel a bit against one of the best defensive lines in the league. This week they will be going up against a Vikings defense that is without their two best pass rushers, Danielle Hunter and Anthony Barr, both who are on IR for the season. This give the Cowboys a better chance to keep quarterback Andy Dalton upright and give him the time to exploit this Vikings 27th ranked pass defense in yards allowed.
This game should also give the Cowboys a chance to get their running game going with Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard, who looks to have earned more carries. If the offensive line can open up holes long enough then Elliott can start to wear down this defense.
Cowboys Defensive X-Factor Players
Defensive Ends - DeMarcus Lawrence, Aldon Smith, and Randy Gregory
The Cowboys pass rushers haven’t been able to get to the quarterback much this season only registering 17 sacks, but that isn’t what they are going to need to be focused on this week, instead they will need to keep containment against the running scheme of the Vikings. Running back Cook does a lot of his damage to defenses running to the outside. If Lawrence and company can keep containment and force Cook back inside to the linebackers and safeties then they can slow down this effective running game.
Once they do that then they can pin their ears back and get after the quarterback who’s known for getting rattled.