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Gameday: Cowboys’ Efficiency, Vikings’ Pass Rush Are Key
Cowboys Win If:
The question for this banged up Cowboys defense is how will they will be able to slow down Adrian Peterson.
After what we saw last week against the Lions, I believe that the Vikings coaches will do everything in their power to protect their quarterback by trying to run the ball and control the game with Peterson. The formula for a victory for the Cowboys will be to get on the Vikings early and often like they did against the Rams. Finishing drives with points puts a great deal of pressure on the Vikings to have to score right along with them.
By making the Vikings have to play in a shoot-out, they would take Peterson out of the game and make offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave have to open his attack up by throwing the ball a bunch -- which would make these Vikings quarterbacks have to make some throws to get back in the game.
Despite how much this Dallas defense has struggled at times, they do find ways to create turnovers, and if the Vikings become one dimensional, there is a chance we’ll see that again. If the Cowboys do struggle on offense and allow the Vikings to hang around, then they are going to put their defense in a terrible position when it comes to defending Peterson.
The best way to help this Cowboys defense is for Garrett and Callahan to play hammer-down football by putting pressure on this Vikings defense, which puts pressure on their offense.
Vikings Win If:
I believe it will be difficult for the Cowboys to run the ball on this Vikings defense.
There are some matchups across the board that could potentially give the them problems with their size. On the flip side of that, the Vikings have really struggled in the secondary when it comes to defending the pass. What has to be a concern for the Cowboys is handling Jared Allen, Kevin Williams and nickel rusher Everson Griffen.
Last week against the Lions, early hits on Tony Romo took him out of his game, and it was that consistent pressure that I felt was the difference in the game. The Vikings will look to take a page out of the Lions’ playbook and attempt to attack Romo the same way.
Defensive coordinator Alan Williams really has nothing to lose in this game in regard to how he chooses to play his defense, and he can afford to take some shots on this Cowboys offensive line that will be playing without a key piece in Brian Waters. There is no doubt that the Vikings coaches will look to see if they can take advantage of Mackenzy Bernadeau, who will be making his first start since the Rams game in Week 3.
The plan is simple for the Vikings: don’t worry about the Cowboys running game and focus on getting their rushers home as much as possible. As the Lions proved last week, it’s not about the sacks but the pressure. That is their best chance to win this game.