As the 10-1 Dallas Cowboys are set to take on the 6-5 Minnesota Vikings tomorrow night on Thursday Night Football I turned on some Vikings film to pin point ways the Cowboys can attack the Vikings offense and defense. The Cowboys are just coming off a huge win on Thanksgiving Day against the divisional rivals the Washington Redskins that same day the Vikings lost a tough battle against their division rivals the Detroit Lions. I figured that would be the perfect spot to turn on the film of the Vikings.
How To Attack Vikings Defense
This was not a perfect outing by the Vikings defense even though they only gave up seventeen points in the game. The first drive for the Lions was about as easy as it could be. The first thing I noticed is that the Vikings defense was showing no respect for the Lions running attack. For a majority of the opening drive the Vikings played cover two-man coverage. Cover two-man coverage is four defensive lineman, a free safety and a strong safety, cornerbacks lined up over the wide receivers and usually two linebackers covering the tight end and any runners in the backfield. The two safeties are playing deep covering the back-end of the field and keeping everything in front of them. If the Vikings play this coverage against the Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott will take full advantage of having one on one matchups with a linebacker. The Lions didn’t have any issue running the football against Minnesota and Theo Riddick is not in the same class as Ezekiel Elliott. Do I know if the Vikings will be playing the same coverage against the Cowboys that they did against the Lions? No. But the Vikings rely on their defense to win games for them so it would not surprise me one bit. Man coverage also hurt the Vikings due to the inconsistent play of their secondary. The Lions didn’t win on a lot of deep balls but attacked the middle of the field and got their quicker wide receivers into space with screens and slants.
A Rock and a Hard Place – Something’s Got to Give
The Vikings front four is a force to be reckon with unfortunately for them they probably have met their match against the Dallas offensive line. Everson Griffin, Linval Joesph, Brian Robinson, Danielle Hunter, and Anthony Barr will be looking to ruin Dak’s Thursday night. The front four of the Vikings is one of the best the Cowboys offensive line has faced all year and may be one of the best in the league. If the offensive line of Dallas gives Dak the time he’s used to the Cowboys should have no problem moving the football.
Defending Vikings Offense
There is no question the Minnesota defense is most valuable to their team because the Minnesota offense is not good. Some of their woes are due to injuries losing; Teddy Bridewater, Adrian Peterson, Matt Khalil, Jake Long, and Andre Smith have demolished the offense. The offensive line for the Vikings is make shift and has been terrible for a majority of the year. With that being said they held their own against a tough Lions defense last week hopefully the Dallas defense gets the worst of the two offensive lines. The running game is pretty much nonexistent Jerrick McKinnon and Matt Asiata are the two backs they use every week. Asiata is mainly used as a goal line and short yardage back while McKinnon gets a majority of the carries between the twenties he is a quicker, shiftier back that also is a threat out of the backfield.
The Vikings have a couple of receiving threats but nothing that requires too much worry. Stefon Diggs missed last weeks game but is looking likely to play Thursday’s game. Diggs is a down the field speed threat that runs really crisp routes. Kyle Rudolph is another guy for the Vikings who can absolutely take over a football game. Rudolph is a tight end who gets a lot of targets throughout a game some of his biggest catches come in the red zone as he’s a greater threat the closer the Vikings get to the endzone. Minnesota has a new weapon that’s getting more and more involved in their offense in Adam Theilen. Theilen has been a big weapon in the passing game for Sam Bradford. He’s not overly big and not overly fast but he catches almost everything that’s thrown his way and fights for every yard he can.
And then we get to Sam Bradford. The Cowboys are pretty familiar with Bradford since his years with the Eagles. Bradford has always taken a lot of heat no matter if he was with the Rams the Eagles or now the Vikings. If Bradford has time to survey the field he will light whoever he is playing up, unfortunately for him and fortunately for the Cowboys Bradford barely has time to find his first read before the pocket begins to collapse. Putting pressure on Bradford is a must in order to slow the Vikings offense.
Injury Roundup for Week 13
If there was ever a week the Cowboys needed Barry Church to return this week is the one. The Vikings offense revolves around getting the football out quick and in space and forcing the defense to come up and make tackles. Barry Church is a tackling machine and a huge reason the Cowboys get a lot of their turnovers. Getting him back to secure the back-end of the Dallas defense is a great addition this late in the season. With Church returning both Justin Durant and JJ Wilcox will likely miss Thursday’s contest with injuries. Kavon Frazier will likely see more snaps at safety and Mark Nzeocha will finally see some playing time with Durant being inactive.
This is a game the Cowboys matchup good against. Cowboys powerhouse offense against a tough Minnesota defense and Dallas’s average but scrappy defense against a very inconsistent Vikings offense
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