The Cowboys enter Week 9 after a frustrating last-minute loss to the Lions. Luckily for Dallas, they face the Lions' NFC North rivals on Sunday. The Vikings will travel to Dallas after going 1-6 in their first seven games. The Cowboys' high-powered offense is likely licking its chops as it prepares for the Vikings' lowly defense.
For the Cowboys' defense, it will be about stopping the run with Adrian Peterson in town. If the Pro Bowl running back can get going on the ground, the Vikings may be able to control time of possession and keep Dez Bryant off the field. With a poor defense, it will be essential for Peterson to run well and often against Dallas.
Meet the Cowboys
The Cowboys are currently 4-4 and lead the lowly NFC East. With an impressive offensive, the Cowboys have been able to put up points on a weekly basis. The tandem of Tony Romo and Bryant have been able to dominate opposing defenses. Even without a consistent running game, Dallas has been able to move the ball with consistency.
Dallas has struggled at times on defense. Despite holding the Eagles to three points in Week 7, the Cowboys have mostly been torched on defense. With a high-scoring offense, it has given the defense plenty of leeway this season. With Peterson coming to town, that may be a different story on Sunday.
Meet the Vikings
The Vikings have swapped around quarterbacks over seven games and have only produced one win this season. With Christian Ponder, Josh Freeman and Matt Cassel all in the mix, the trio has yet to provide consistent passing to at least compliment Peterson. This has become an issue as opposing defenses have stacked the box against the Vikings.
On defense, the Vikings have been futile. Minnesota has lost Harrison Smith, but gave up tons of yards even when he was in the lineup. It has been a down year for Jared Allen and the Vikings have struggled to stop the pass. If Allen cannot force pressure, it will be a long day for the Vikings.
Local Takes: Cowboys
Tom Ryle of Blogging the Boys believes this game will end in a Cowboys victory due to the Vikings poor defense:
The Vikings made a dramatic move because their quarterback, Christian Ponder, was so bad. They benched him and went out and signed Josh Freeman, who was run off by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers because he was so bad. OK, so Freeman was really run off by Greg Schiano, the Bucs head coach, but he will tell you that the two are the same thing. Freeman set out to prove that Schiano was every bit the incompetent, clueless fool that many believe him to be - and instead may have single-handedly given the Tampa Bay owners reason to pause in firing Schiano by giving one of the most miserable performances ever on Monday Night Football. He was so good he made the New York Giants look, well, if not good, at least like the second worst team on the field. Minnesota still has Adrian Peterson, but he is not the MVP he was last year. And the Vikings are really bad on defense.
Put this one in the win column, moving Dallas' record to 5-4.
Local Takes: Vikings
Christopher Gates of Daily Norseman thinks this season's lack of success is attributed to the front office and coaching staff:
The Vikings chose to roll the dice going into this season on a lot of things. They gambled that Christian Ponder would take the next step forward in his development. That hasn't happened. They gambled that a lot of guys on defense would be able to slot into new positions (Erin Henderson at MLB) or new roles (Josh Robinson as the slot cornerback). That hasn't worked. Add in not having the same luck with injuries that the team has had the last couple of years, and a season where a lot of people expected to see the Minnesota Vikings challenge for the NFC North Division title (at the very least) has instead become one of the most precipitous falls from grace in recent memory.
Heads are going to roll at the end of this season, and it might start from the very top of the organizational food chain. Here is how I envision the end-of-season meeting between Vikings' owner Zygi Wilf and General Manager Rick Spielman going.
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Well, We Tried. http://t.co/89wJdjK1Jc— The Daily Norseman (@DailyNorseman) October 29, 2013
All five of SB Nation's NFL experts picked the Cowboys to improve to 5-4.
The Cowboys are 11-point home favorites against the Vikings, according to OddsShark.