Sunday: 3:25 p.m. at U.S. Bank Stadium (Ch. 9, 100.3-FM, 1130-AM)
ABOUT THE COWBOYS
• The Cowboys (2-7) are coming off a bye week and four straight losses since quarterback Dak Prescott suffered a season-ending injury in a Week 5 win over the Giants. Dallas has scored just 41 points across four losses since.
• Running back Ezekiel Elliott is averaging a career-low 4.4 yards per touch. The former NFL rushing champion is getting the same workload, but he’s yet to have a 100-yard game behind a patchwork offensive line.
• Nobody allows more points than the Cowboys defense at 32.2 per game, but they’ve improved recently with former Vikings coordinator George Edwards on staff. That number is down to 24 points allowed on average in the past three losses. Linebacker Jaylon Smith ranks fifth in the NFL with 89 solo and assisted tackles.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT | QB Andy Dalton
• Dalton, the former Bengals starter, is expected to return Sunday after missing the past two starts because of a concussion and COVID-19. He was activated Wednesday off the reserve/COVID-19 list. Cowboys backup Garrett Gilbert, a seventh-year NFL veteran, would get his second start if Dalton is unable to play.
• Dalton, 33, was released by the Bengals after nine seasons and Cincinnati drafting Joe Burrow at No. 1. Dalton signed with the Cowboys a few days later and was starting by the sixth game. He has completed 59% of his passes for 341 yards and a touchdown with three interceptions in two starts before suffering a concussion from an illegal hit by Washington linebacker Jon Bostic.
• Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer, who spent three years with Dalton in Cincinnati: “Andy’s a great kid. Really good person. Great family. He won an awful lot of games there. I loved being able to go out and compete against him all the time. Very accurate, good arm, very cerebral.”
COACH SPEAK | Mike McCarthy
• McCarthy is in his 14th season as an NFL head coach with a 127-84-2 record (. 601) in the regular season and 10-8 in the playoffs with one Super Bowl ring. He’s 2-7 in his first season since replacing Jason Garrett as Cowboys head coach.
• The former Packers head coach returned from a year out of coaching to lead a talented Cowboys offense that was averaging 32.6 points through five Prescott starts. But Prescott’s injury, other offensive injuries and a poor defensive start have undercut his first year. Tackles Tyron Smith and La’el Collins are on injured reserve. Guard Zack Martin just returned to the lineup after a concussion sidelined him two games.
• McCarthy on returning to Minnesota just 1½ games out of the NFC East lead: “It’s an important game for both teams. We understand where they are and where we are. The hype and awareness that goes into this game, it’s going to have a different feel to it.”