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Vikings keys to the game: Week 8 vs. Dallas

The 3-3 Minnesota Vikings return home after the bye week to host the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football on KARE.
Credit: AP
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) carries the ball against the Cincinnati Bengals during an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Cincinnati. The Bengals won 27-24. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)

MINNEAPOLIS — WHO: Dallas Cowboys vs. Minnesota Vikings
WHEN: Sunday, Oct. 31 at 7:20 p.m. CT
WHERE: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis

The 3-3 Minnesota Vikings return home after the bye week to host the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football on KARE. The 5-1 Cowboys are coming off a bye week as well, after beating the Patriots with a game-winning touchdown in overtime in Week 6. 

The Cowboys are one of the hottest teams in football. After losing the season opener against Tampa Bay, they have won five straight games. The team is also dealing with an injury to their star quarterback. Dak Prescott strained his calf on the game-winning touchdown pass mentioned earlier, and his status for Sunday is up in the air. The Vikings will be without one of their stars as well. Eight-time Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson was placed on the injured reserve and will miss the next three games with a hamstring injury after leaving the game against the Panthers in Week 6. 

The Vikings will have their hands full on Sunday. Here are three keys to the game for this weekend's matchup:

Slow down the run. The Vikings have yet to hold an opponent to 100 yards rushing in a game, and are 26th in the NFL with 128 yards allowed per game. Dallas will get right tackle La'el Collins back from suspension and running back Ezekiel Elliott is having a resurgent year so far. He's already rushed for 521 yards and 5 touchdowns through 6 games. Sunday will be the second time this season the Vikings will face a top-5 rushing attack. Rubber, meet road.

Score touchdowns early and often. The Vikings' defense will be tested without Peterson against a Dallas squad that leads the NFL in yards per game and points per game. Minnesota's offense finally broke through with a second half touchdown against Carolina, after not scoring any in the prior four games. The team will try to carry that momentum forward. It won't be easy for Kirk Cousins, though. The Cowboys feature leading candidate for defensive player of the year Trevon Diggs (younger brother of former Vikings WR Stefon Diggs) who has seven interceptions already this season. A healthy Dalvin Cook should help keep the chains moving. He rushed for 140 yards against the Panthers and had a week off to rest that nagging ankle injury.

Pressure Prescott. If Dak Prescott can give it a go, the Vikings' pass rush will be busy. Prescott has only been sacked 9 times this season, but Minnesota is tied for the league lead with 21 sacks. Danielle Hunter is fully recovered from a neck injury that sidelined him for all of 2020, and looks like the Hunter from 2019. Everson Griffen has played his way back into the starting defensive lineup with his improved play. He may be extra motivated playing against his former team. The Cowboys actually traded him to the Lions last season. Good luck, Dak.

The Vikings will try to get above .500 for the first time this weekend. The stage will be big and the primetime lights will be bright. We'll have all the pregame and postgame coverage – including a jam-packed Vikings Extra – on KARE 11 after Sunday Night Football. 

Follow me on Twitter @ReggieWilsonTV for all gameday updates.

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