Tale Of The Tape: Minnesota Vikings At Dallas Cowboys
- QuarterbackThe Vikings played a credible game at home against the Packers, a team they always get prepared for. Now they must go back on the road against a team that suffered a painful last-second defeat. It’s doubtful that Christian Ponder will be up to that assignment. Ponder is a skittish signal caller who often lacks accuracy and doesn’t appear to have much confidence.The Cowboys suffered yet another testing defeat when it could not hold off the Lions in Week Eight. That kind of outcome will once again test the mettle of Tony Romo, who is often held responsible whenever the Cowboys lose. Romo is an accurate passer who almost always gives his receivers a very catchable ball. Romo has been troubled by costly interceptions often thrown at the worst possible moment.
- OffenseThe Vikings would like to establish their ground game with their super running back Adrian Peterson. However, it’s hard for opponents to respect the Minnesota passing game and they often load up against Peterson’s assaults with eight men in the box. Additionally, Peterson has a sore hamstring. The Vikings would like to get the ball to Greg Jennings downfield.The Cowboys would like to use DeMarco Murray to establish their running attack, but he has missed the last two games with an MCL problem and he may not be able to play in this game either. Backup Joseph Randle is just ordinary. The key to the Cowboys' offense is getting the ball to electric wide receiver Dez Bryant, who had two TD catches vs. the Lions. TE Jason Witten will catch anything he can touch.
- DefenseThe Vikings have more consistent personnel on the defensive side of the ball, but they rank 27th overall and they are not consistent. The key to the Vikings slowing down the Dallas passing game is the pressure they can put on Romo. That means defensive end Jared Allen must have a big day with his speed rush. Middle linebacker Erin Henderson is the Vikings’ most dependable tackler.While the Cowboys had a plus-four advantage on the takeaway chart against the Lions, they could not stop Detroit’s last-minute desperation drive. That’s going to eat at them all week and they will try to take out their frustration on the Vikings. The key to the Cowboys is the play of middle linebacker Sean Lee, who had 10 tackles and two interceptions against the Lions.
- Special TeamsThe Vikings have one of the most explosive return specialists in Cordarrelle Patterson, who returned a kickoff 109 yards for a touchdown in Week Eight against the Packers. Blair Walsh is a dependable placekicker with a strong leg.The Cowboys' return teams will be tested by the explosive Patterson. They gave up a 44-yard return to Detroit’s Jeremy Ross, so they will have to tighten things up. Dan Bailey is a solid kicker who was 3-of-3 on his FG attempts against the Lions.
The Vikings are going to have to be at their best and avoid turnovers if they are going to have a chance against what should be a very motivated and angry Dallas team that is still in first place despite their 4-4 record. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor