This season, the Vikings did not beat any team that currently has a record of victories. And they were close to giving their last two games to weaker teams.
However, had the playoffs kicked off now, the Vikings (3-3) would have gotten their seventh and final seed in the NFC playoffs. And now they have a chance to show that they deserve to be in an even better company.
The Vikings will play the Dallas Cowboys at US Bank Stadium in a game that will be televised nationally on NBC’s Sunday Night Football program. The Cowboys are 5-1 and lead the NFL in both points and attacks.
“This is a big game for us,” said Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson. “First, it’s Sunday night. The world will watch, and we want to show the world that the Vikings are not the ones to be counted. And besides, they are 5-1, so this is a great team and we want to be on that plus side of our record. ”
The Vikings were competitive throughout the season. They lost to the first player in Cincinnati 27-24 in overtime after running back. Dalvin Cook lost in overtime and the Bengals now surprisingly hold the top spot in the AFC with a 5-2 record.
Minnesota lost 34-33 in Week 2 in Arizona when Greg Joseph missed a 37-yard field game in the final game. The Cardinals are now 7-1.
Interestingly, the Vikings have won victories in the last two games, but they may have raised more questions than some of their defeats. On October 10, they missed the 16-6 lead, losing to Detroit 17-16 before Joseph saved them with a 54-yard field goal in the last game that secured a 19-17 triumph. Lions are now 0-7.
In their last game on October 17, before the week of farewell, the Vikings snatched the lead at the end of 28-17 at Carolina, then survived 34-28 in extra time. The Panthers entered the game 3-2, but are now 3-4 after losing their fourth straight game last week.
Minnesota’s other win was 30-17 in week 3 over Seattle, which is now 2-5. The Seahawks have lost to star quarterback Russell Wilson in two games since the Vikings with a toe injury.
But nevertheless, the fact is that the three teams that beat the Vikings have an overall record of 5-16.
And the three teams that the Vikings lost have an overall record of 16-5. Their other defeat was 14-7 on October 3 against Cleveland’s team, now 4-3.
On Sunday night, the Vikings have another chance to beat the top echelon team. NBC studio analyst Tony Dungi calls it a yardstick game for them.
“We saw flashes, we saw their talent, we saw explosive power and at times we saw good defense,” said Dungy, a former University of Minnesota quarterback who was the Vikings’ defender. coordinator from 1992-95 “But we haven’t seen (the Vikings) all play together against really good teams, and Dallas is good. … It will be a good test for the Vikings, and we will see where they are. ”
It won’t be a big test if the Cowboys don’t have star quarterback Duck Prescott, whose status is unclear on Sunday due to straining his right calf. But Vikings offensive coordinator Adam Zimmer expects Prescott to play, and even if he doesn’t, he said the Cowboys would be doing the same with a spare Cooper Rush.
“Every time you play the # 1 offensive in the league, you want to see how you are doing,” Zimmer said. “I think we played some good attacks this year and I think we played pretty well, but it’s a dynamic attack. They have a lot of playmakers and we must do our best to slow them down. ”
The Cowboys have many weapons besides Prescott. Backward Ezekiel Elliot is fifth in the NFL with 521 yards. Wide receivers CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper, which have 33 and 31 catches respectively, are very dangerous.
And Dallas has better defense than his 28th-highest defensive scorer in the NFL last season. The Cowboys are currently ranked 20th behind Defense Coordinator Dan Quinn’s first course, and Minnesota Offensive Coordinator Clint Kubiak noted how good their defense is at forcing a change in position. They have a stem differential plus seven.
“You see how they flip the ball, that’s what great defenses do,” Kubyak said.
Dallas full-back Trevor Diggs, brother of Buffalo and former Viking receiver Stephon Diggs, set an NFL record with interceptions in each of the first six games of the season and leads the league with seven interceptions overall. But Vikings defender Kirk Cousins, helped by the best defense, has made just two interceptions so far.
“When he’s protected and can keep pace, he’s just as good as anyone in the league,” Dungy said of Cousins.
Cousins played well against the Cowboys in the previous two games with the Vikings.
In his 28-24 victory in Dallas in Sunday Night Football in November 2019, Cousins made 23 of 32 assists for 220 yards and two touchdowns. The Vikings lost 31-28 to the Cowboys last November at US Bank Stadium, but Cousins completed 22 of 30 assists for 314 yards and three touchdowns.
The Vikings will probably need another strong game from Cousins to win on Sunday.
“This is a great game, a great opportunity for us at home against a good football team, so this is a great opportunity for us and we are looking forward to it,” said Cousins.
The game kicks off with a difficult four-game phase that could determine if the Vikings have a chance to catch Green Bay (7-1) in the NFC North, or if they may have to fight to the end to earn space for the wild card. After Sunday’s game, Minnesota will play at Baltimore (5-2) on Nov. 7, the Los Angeles Chargers (5-2) on Nov.14 and at home against the Packers on Nov.21.
“They have to play with us too,” Cook said. “When you look at it, everyone will say,“ What about the other teams? “But what about the Vikings? This is how we look at it. What about the Vikings? They should also look at us. We’re a good team too. ”
At least the Vikings will start their tough period at home, winning 11 of their last 14 games, starting in 2018 when they use starters and have fans in the stands. Last season, fans were barred from any home games due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Against the Cowboys on Halloween, the Vikings will play their first night game in the regular season and their first nationally televised game since fans return.
“It’s going to be very loud, noisy,” Jefferson said.
“Game night, Halloween,” said Minnesota-based security guard Harrison Smith. “I can’t imagine it won’t be wild. A lot of time before the game to put on suits and get ready for football. ”
But will the Vikings be ready to meet the cowboys? Dangi, who will provide analysis from NBC studios before, during and after the game, will watch it with great interest.
“Let’s see if they can play to their fullest against a good team,” said Dungy. “They will need to play 60 minutes of football because Dallas are a good football team.”