Feels strange to be covering a big Vikings game, knowing it has no chance of being the most important Minnesota football game of the weekend. But it should be interesting.
What I’ll be watching for tonight when the Vikings play the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium:
-Without nose tackle Linval Joseph, can a Vikings defensive line otherwise built for speed handle the power rushing of the Cowboys? Joseph is an exceptional run-blocker who frequently occupies multiple blockers. With him out, the Vikings may have trouble against a massive offensive line and a power runner in Ezekiel Elliott. If they do, this could be a long night for the Vikings because…
-Without receiver Adam Thielen, who, like Joseph, will miss this game with an injury, the Vikings’ ability to pass the ball is in question. Last week, Kirk Cousins, coming off the best month of his career, was erratic early and that kept the Vikings from being able to sustain drives and get their running game moving. Cousins may have even less margin for error against Dallas.
-Amari Cooper vs. the Vikings’ corners. The Vikings have cornerback depth, but they lack cornerback excellence right now. Xavier Rhodes is not having a good season. Trae Wayne has been up and down. Cooper is an excellent technician with more than enough speed. Can the Vikings’ defense gear up to stop the run and commit enough manpower to stop Cooper?
-Stefon Diggs hasn’t caused problems since...he was causing problems. What happens if, with Thielen out, Diggs is constantly double-teamed or doesn’t get the ball for other reasons on national television?
-Kirk Cousins. Yes, he needs to win this kind of game for the Vikings to come close to being a championship-caliber team. He’ll need help, but if he gets enough help he has to prove he can make big throws in an important game.
The Star Tribune sportswriters covering the game tonight: Ben Goessling, Andrew Krammer, Mark Craig and myself.
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