It's not often that the NFL gets to see a matchup between two teams both coming off a bye week. But it's straight up impossible to find a game between two teams off a bye that both won their previous games on walk-off overtime touchdowns, because it's never happened before. It'll happen this Sunday night as the Cowboys (5-1) take on the Minnesota Vikings (3-3) in a high-flying Halloween showdown.
Here are five storylines for each team heading into Sunday night's bout at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
- Following their start to the season, Minnesota had quite the task getting back to .500 against a reeling Carolina Panthers squad in Week 6. The Vikings jumped out to a 28-17 fourth quarter lead on the strength of two early touchdowns from Kirk Cousins and a Dalvin Cook score. However, the Panthers stormed back to tie the game at 28 with just 42 seconds remaining on a Robby Anderson touchdown grab to force overtime. Almost ten minutes into the extra period, K.J. Osborn reeled in a 27-yard pass and took it into the endzone for the walk-off win, entering the bye week.
- Things don't get easier for the Vikings now that they're back at a .500 record. Minnesota faces four straight division leaders over the next four weeks. Their tough stretch starts with Dallas at home before traveling to Baltimore and to Los Angeles to face the Ravens and Chargers leading into a divisional bout with Green Bay in Week 11. Minnesota was playing their best ball prior to the bye, but Mike Zimmer and company are thankful the time off and extra rest came when it did.
- Speaking of playing their best ball, Kirk Cousins has been doing that through his first six games. Outside of scoring on their opening drive in each of their last five games, Cousins has led the Vikings offense with close to 300 yards and two touchdowns more than he had through six games in 2020, all while throwing eight fewer interceptions. Part of the reason for his success is the trio of receivers Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and K.J. Osborn have been some of the more efficient receiving corps in the league.
- Patrick Peterson had found a groove and was playing well over the last two weeks during his first season with the Vikings. That was before suffering a hamstring injury landed him on the injured reserve list for the first time in his impressive career. Missing a Pro Bowl caliber veteran is already one thing, but it's also a massive shot to the depth at the cornerback position. At the moment, it looks as if Mackensie Alexander, Cameron Dantzler, and Bashaud Breeland will be the starters in the secondary.
- With the serge behind the Minnesota passing game, Dalvin Cook and the ground game has not had to carry the same load as they have in the past. Cook has missed some time with a nagging ankle injury but busted back into the lineup with a massive 140-yards and a touchdown against the Panthers. The Vikings currently rank eighth in total rushing yards and 11th in yards per carry. With a healthy Cook back in the mix, they could just be getting started as a powerhouse ground game again.
- Much like Minnesota, Dallas is coming off their bye week that was preceded by a gutsy walk-off win in Week 6. Dallas' heroics happened in New England as a part of a 35-29 win over the Patriots, their first since 1996. CeeDee Lamb caught a 35-yard touchdown pass for the win in overtime to go along with his career-high 9 receptions for 149 yards and two touchdowns. It was also the tenth-straight game that the Cowboys defense has tallied multiple takeaways and the sixth straight game with a Trevon Diggs interception.
- The biggest storyline surrounding the bye week was once against surrounding Dak Prescott and his health ahead of Sunday's matchup in Minneapolis. Prescott suffered a strained calf on the final play of the Patriots win and was initially listed as questionable for the Week 8 showdown. Both Coach McCarthy and Stephen Jones anticipate Prescott to be limited in practice this week and is currently on the right path to start against the Vikings on Sunday.
- Despite Mike McCarthy's early week message to the team about being smart during their time off, it was not a quiet bye week off the field. Damontae Kazee was arrested Tuesday morning on the chard of driving while under the influence. The veteran was arrested in The Colony, a northern Dallas suburb before posting the $2,500 bond and being released on Tuesday afternoon. It is unsure whether Kazee will be available to play based on the NFL league policy, but at the moment there has not been any punishment issued.
- After the bye week, Dallas will benefit from a couple players returning from injury soon. The trio of Michael Gallup, Sean McKeon, and rookie Kelvin Joseph have each started their 21-day practice window ahead of being activated off the Injured Reserve list. Gallup has not been active since suffering a calf strain week one against the Buccaneers while McKeon and Joseph have been out since the early weeks of the preseason due to lower body ailments.
- Dallas also has the return of starting right tackle La'el Collins making headlines. Collins was suspended by the NFL for five games and is on his way back to the active 53-man roster. Normally, the return of Collins would be a cause for celebration, but it is still to be seen if he will be the starter on Sunday. Terence Steele has filled in nicely through the last five games and 14 starts last season. While Collins has started just one game since 2019 in 22 total chances. With the injury to Prescott looming, the coaching staff will rely heavily on the practice performance this week to decide who is better suited for the starting job in Week 8.