After a tough loss to the Green Bay Packers, the Dallas Cowboys (6-3) move their attention to their next opponent, the Minnesota Vikings (8-1). Minnesota’s offense is one of the most electric units in all of football and the Cowboys face a tough test in attempting to slow them down.
Before the two teams square off, here are three things to know about the Vikings' offense.
1) Kirk Cousins’ historic struggles against the Cowboys
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins has done a lot of things well during his 11-year NFL career. The 34-year-old signal-caller has thrown 25 or more touchdown passes in seven consecutive seasons, has been named to the Pro Bowl three times, and has helped lead the Vikings to an 8-1 record to start the 2022 season.
One thing the former fourth-round pick has not done well is have success against the Dallas Cowboys. Cousins is 2-8 as a starter against Dallas in his career, his worst record against any individual opponent.
In his last five games against Dallas, Cousins is 1-4 and has been sacked 12 times. Last season, Cousins and the Vikings blew a fourth-quarter lead and eventually lost at home to a Cowboys team starting backup quarterback Cooper Rush.
For some reason, Cousins just cannot figure out how to beat the Cowboys.
2) As Justin Jefferson goes, so do the Vikings
Not even a full three years into his NFL career, Justin Jefferson has cemented himself as one of the best wide receivers in football. The 23-year-old is off to another spectacular start this season. Jefferson has caught the fourth-most passes in football (69), recorded the second-most receiving yards (1,060), and leads the league in Y/G (117.8).
Jefferson’s individual performance has been directly tied to Minnesota’s overall success since he was drafted back in 2020. Jefferson has gone over 100 receiving yards 20 times since he joined the league. The Vikings are 15-5 in those games. Minnesota is also 15-5 in games where Jefferson has seven or more receptions.
On the flip side, the Vikings are just 3-6 in games where Jefferson catches three or fewer passes, and are 5-9 in games where he records less than 71 receiving yards.
Overall, Jefferson is too good of a player to completely eliminate from a game, but if you are able to slow him down enough you have a good chance to beat the Vikings.
3) An underrated rushing attack featuring a solid duo
With weapons like Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and now T.J. Hockenson, when you think of the Vikings' offense their rushing attack isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. While they may not have the star power that they do in the passing game, Minnesota’s running back duo of Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison is one of the better duos in football.
Cook, the three-time Pro-Bowler, is having another very solid season. The 27-year-old is averaging 5.0 Y/A and has the seventh-most rushing yards in football. Cook also ranks in the top 12 in the league in DYAR (80) and DVOA (5.0%), according to Football Outsiders.
Dating back to Week 6 of 2021, Cook is averaging nearly 85 Y/G and 4.8 Y/A over his last 19 games. His big-play ability has been well-documented, and he showed it on an 81-yard touchdown run last week against Buffalo.
Trailing by 17 in the final minutes of the 3rd quarter, the @Vikings needed a big play.— NFL (@NFL) November 14, 2022
Enter @DalvinCook's 81-yard TD. pic.twitter.com/tgrxWANjVH
With Dallas’ struggles to stop the run, they are going to see a whole lot of Cook and Mattison this Sunday. The Cowboys better provide a better effort than they did Sunday against the Packers, or the Vikings could end up running the ball at will all game long.