I’m not one of these Cowboys fans who can enjoy a win for several days before diving into scouting the next opponent. For me its usually a matter of minutes. If you remember Brad Pitt’s Achilles in the movie Troy, then you probably recall the scene where he kills an opposing army’s greatest warrior and then immediately shouts to to rest of the army:
"IS THERE NO ONE ELSE!!!"
I loved that scene. This season especially, that is my mentality about my Cowboys. Who’s next. Let’s go crush another opponent.
Pitt’s Achilles doesn’t get any takers in that scene, but the Cowboys will find a serious challenge waiting for them in Minneapolis. I was surprised to find that the Vikings offense is very close to as powerful as Dallas’. They don’t run as well, almost no one does. But they have murderously talented receivers and a comparable ability to move the ball and put up points. And their defense is better than Dallas’ in some respects. There’s reason to believe Dallas will face a comparable challenge to what they experience in New England.
True, the Vikings don’t have dark Sith Lord Belichick calling plays on the sideline, but their offense is far more explosive and worrisome.
Count me among those who didn’t love the use of Micah Parsons in New England. As I heard one person put it, "It’s like we have TJ Watt and we’re making him play in coverage."
I need Parsons back on the line, rushing the passer, not trying to cover running backs and tight ends. The middle of the Vikings offensive line is weak, which means Dallas can potentially disrupt enough running plays to put Cousins in second and/or third and long. And we absolutely need Parsons and Gregory to go hunting in those situations. Dallas is going to give up a ton of yards in this game, but with a dangerous pass rush we can be assured of at least a few key stops and possibly a ball or two that is up for grabs with a chance for our secondary to continue their happy larceny.
Dallas on Offense
The Vikings are not stout on run defense and this year teams that are less than stout on run defense are getting run over by the Cowboys line. And we all understand how that opens up the rest of the offense while wearing down the opposition.
The Vikings are 24th in yards allowed and 28th in yards per carry, allowing 4.8 yards per tote by the opposition. To put that in perspective, the Eagles allow 4.1 yards per carry, but Dallas racked up 160 rushing yards, with Zeke averaging 5.6 and Pollard averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Against the Panthers, who are now allowing an average of 4.7 yards per carry, Dallas averaged 7.7 yards per carry and amassed 245 yards rushing.
Patrick Peterson is on IR. He was a shut-down corner, which simplified things for them. With him gone no one in their secondary is capable of stopping CeeDee Lamb or Amari Cooper. And while they worry about that, Schultz, Wilson and Brown are perfectly capable of moving the chains. So you gotta attack that secondary.
On the one hand, Dallas could keep Cousins on the sideline with long drives that dominate time of possession. But back on the other hand, sometimes long drives stall because officials throw phantom holding penalty flags. Dallas doesn’t want to be in another road game late, having dominated time of possession but going down to the wire to secure a victory.
And so, things circle back around to Parsons. I believe if Quinn says to Parsons "You have one job: make Kirk Cousins life a living hell for the entire game" Parsons, together with Greggory, will accomplish that objective. And as long as they are succeeding in doing that, Dallas should feel free to step on the gas—emphasize racking up points more so than ball control. Five and six-play drives with deep shots could be easier to accomplish then 12-play marches.
It strikes me that the best of both worlds is what we need from our Cowboys when they visit the Vikes. Come out hot on offense, lots of tempo and play action and RPOs and score fast and furious. Attack on defense. Get the Vikings playing from behind. Then grind them into the dirt with the run game late and close out the game.
Let me know if I’ve overlooked anything, folks.