Keys to Victory

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Keys To Victory: How Cowboys Get A "W" Sunday


Both teams are coming off a bye week. Both teams have enjoyed a recent winning streak.

But while Cowboys have won five straight, compared to just two for the Vikings, they don't have the same questions at quarterback. Dak Prescott will likely be a game-time decision while Kirk Cousins has the Vikings offense rolling with playmaking receivers and an elite running back.

Here's a look at the keys to victory for both the Vikings and Cowboys.

The Vikings will win if…

The recipe for the Vikings is always the same with the defense and running game setting the table for Kirk Cousins and Co. to go through the air. The Vikings rely heavily on Dalvin Cook and/or Alexander Mattison to keep the offense on schedule with a steady diet of five-yard gains on a variety of zone-based runs (inside or outside) that tests the discipline of the defense. If the Vikings get the running game going, Cousins will take a few shots down the field on complementary play-passes that exploit the voids on the second level created by linebackers flying out of their spots to chase Cook or Mattison. With Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen twisting defenders in knots on crossing and double moves, the Vikings' play-action passing game is a problem for undisciplined defenses.

On defense, Mike Zimmer must heat up the Cowboys with an assortment of blitzes designed to blow up the run and collapse the pocket. The exotic pressures could disrupt the flow of the Cowboys' offense and make it an ugly game for one of the hottest teams in the league. If the Vikings can keep the ball in front of the defense,

The Cowboys will win if…

The Cowboys must control the game with an efficient offensive effort complementing a solid performance from an improving defense. Dan Quinn's unit has been outstanding at generating turnovers and creating short fields for the defense. Trevon Diggs and Co. will need to be on top of their games in the secondary to free up additional defenders to play near the line of scrimmage to neutralize Dalvin Cook and the Vikings' running game. Micah Parsons, Leighton Vander Esch, and Randy Gregory must stay disciplined with their run fits while also disrupting the passing game as relentless pass rushers. If the Cowboys can squash the run and make it a Kirk Cousins' game with the veteran forced to throw 40-plus times, the turnovers will eventually come with the veteran eventually succumbing to pressure.

Dak Prescott must exhibit poise, patience, and discipline against an ultra-aggressive Vikings' defense. The savvy quarterback must be on point with his hot reads and sight adjustments to counter the Double-A gap pressures that Mike Zimmer will throw at him. Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore must maintain balance in the game plan by giving Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard plenty of touches on the ground. If the Cowboys finish with a 50-50 run-pass ratio, they will control the game and win a tight contest on their own terms.

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