How on earth … are the Vikings gonna stop the Cowboys?

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How on earth … are the Vikings gonna stop the Cowboys?

Post by J. Kapp 11 » Mon Oct 25, 2021 10:09 am

Halloween night. Dallas rolls into US Bank Stadium. Sunday Night Football. NBC. National TV audience.

And the Cowboys’ offense ranks …
— 1st in points per game
— 1st in total yards per game
— 1st in passing yards per game
— 5th in 3rd down conversion percentage

So here we go. Keeping in mind that we’ll be without Patrick Peterson, on earth are we going to stop these guys?

I have no idea. Maybe we’re going to have to out-score them in a shootout. Say it ain’t so, Mike Zimmer!

What do y’all think?
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Re: How on earth … are the Vikings gonna stop the Cowboys?

Post by TheCoolerOne » Mon Oct 25, 2021 11:33 am

This isn't a substantial contribution, no data to back it up, but this game just has a 31-17 Cowboys feel.

I guess we're the best 3rd down defense in the league, but somehow that doesn't feel as legit as it did in 2017. When that defense was facing 3rd down, you felt great about it.

As the matter of fact, it probably doesn't feel real because we have to be damn near the bottom of 4th down defense. Yeah we'll gut you on 3rd down, but if you're facing a 4th you've gotta have, be our guest.
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Re: How on earth … are the Vikings gonna stop the Cowboys?

Post by Rhodes Closed » Mon Oct 25, 2021 1:04 pm

Admittedly, these are just some stats I've found from the excellent website pro-football-reference.com, but according to that website:

Minnesota's defensive capabilities are as follows:

Minnesota is 2nd overall in 3rd Down Defense, allowing a paltry 29.2% conversion rate.

Their 4th Down Defense is not as lovely, ranking 17th in the league with a 55.6% conversion rate.

Minnesota's Red Zone defense is among the worst in the league as well, 24th and allowing a score 71.4% of the time.

However:

It is the inverse for Minnesota's offense.

Minnesota is ranked 18th in 3rd Down Offense, converting 40% of the time.

4th Down Offense is 8th in the league, converting 60% of the time.

Red Zone Offense is also ranked 8th in the league, scoring 66.7% of the time.

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The Dallas Cowboys defense is actually worse than Minnesota's based on 3rd Down, 4th Down, and Red Zone defense.

3rd Down Defense is 8th in the league, at 35.7%.

4th Down Defense is 23rd, at 66.7%.

Red Zone Defense is only slightly better than Minnesota's defense, 23rd in the league, with teams scoring 70% of the time.

Dallas' offense is amazingly pedestrian when forced into those situations:

On 3rd Down, Dallas's offense is 5th in the league, converting 46.7% of the time.

Then the offense takes a huge nosedive on 4th Down Offense, dropping to 13th in the league at 50% conversion rate.

The Cowboys are also among the worst teams in Red Zone Scoring, 24th in the league, and scoring only 56%.

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Furthermore, Minnesota's passing offense is 6th in Passing Yards, 10th in Touchdowns, 2nd overall in Interceptions, and 10th in Net Yards/Attempt. The Vikings have a top 10 Passing Offense, and a Top 15 Rushing Offense as well (8th in Rushing Yards, and 11th in Y/A). Dallas's defense is actually among the league-worst in passing defense (28th in Yards, 21st in TDs, and 28th in NY/A).

Their only saving grace is their interceptions ranking, which is 1st overall. Looking at who they were playing against though: A Wildly Inconsistent Justin Herbert, Tom Brady, Jalen Hurts, a BAD Sam Darnold, Mike #### Glennon, and a rookie Mac Jones.

Outside of Tom Brady's Buccaneers, who absolutely pounded the Cowboys with four touchdowns, they have yet to go up against a real Top-10 Quarterback, and against a really good passing offense. Not only that, Dallas's defense is ranked 19th in Points Against and 23rd in Yards Against. Minnesota's defense is ranked 13th in PA, and 16th in Yards.

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Long story short, The Dallas Cowboys are not some unbeatable team. They have been helped tremendously by playing some pretty awful teams, and even then, they've given up an average of 24.3 points per game while Minnesota's only given up an average of 22.8 points per game. That may not be a significant difference, but it also shows Minnesota has a better defense.

The keys to victory is to stop Dallas's rushing game and force Dak to have to make long throws on 3rd down. On Offense, we have to confuse their rushing defense (ranked 5th in Yards, but 17th in Y/A) and keep pounding the rock against them, while also utilizing Kirk Cousins, JJ, AT, and KJ against a bad passing defense. The reason that Dallas has the 5th ranked rushing defense on yards is that teams give up early and force themselves to have to pass to catch up. If our defense does what they are supposed to, I predict that Dallas will only be able to convert approximately 32.4% of the time on 3rd down, which is good enough for me. As long as those 3rd down stops are from more than 5 yards, we have a good chance at domineering the Cowboys.

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TL/DR, The Cowboys are not an irrepressible force nor unbeatable. Minnesota has the stats to absolutely theoretically defeat them. Any given Sunday.
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Re: How on earth … are the Vikings gonna stop the Cowboys?

Post by YikesVikes » Mon Oct 25, 2021 1:30 pm

The Cowboys are good but why must we act like they are unbeatable. They beat the Chargers 20-17. Are the chargers some unstoppable defensive team? No. We will beat them like this. Crowd noise, and getting to them on 3rd downs. They are talented but they aren't some historic offense that everyone should be afraid of. They barely beat the Pats last week.
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Re: How on earth … are the Vikings gonna stop the Cowboys?

Post by Maelstrom88 » Mon Oct 25, 2021 3:19 pm

Time for Zimmer to earn his paycheck. We have some injuries but so does everyone else. Get it done.
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Re: How on earth … are the Vikings gonna stop the Cowboys?

Post by Dmizzle0 » Mon Oct 25, 2021 4:22 pm

The Vikings almost stopped 2 of the hottest teams in the NFL. They just have to limit the big plays allowed and don't burn any opportunities.
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Re: How on earth … are the Vikings gonna stop the Cowboys?

Post by psjordan » Mon Oct 25, 2021 4:30 pm

We played DAL well last year but lost.
Elliot and Cook had big games.
Cooper, Theilen and Jefferson had big games.

Big differences this time?
New DC Quinn in DAL
Prescott (hurt?) instead of Dalton
We finally have a WR3
Our OL appears to be in better shape

DAL is 2.5 pt favorite on the road, which means 5.5 favorite on neutral field.

Unless we open up the reigns a bit, I see another similar-score loss. The maddening part is that we appear to have the tools to open things up, just not the inclination.
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Re: How on earth … are the Vikings gonna stop the Cowboys?

Post by S197 » Mon Oct 25, 2021 5:04 pm

Honestly, I think the answer is the same way we beat them in 2019, which was also in prime time. Cook will probably need another incredible performance both on the ground and through the air. He kept the offense on the sidelines and slowly wore the defense down. Dak played great in that game but the defense made just enough plays to pull out the win (Kendricks with a huge 4th down stop). It's also a similar strategy to how they beat the Rams when they were the most potent offense in the NFL a year or two before that big Cowboys win.

If they can bottle up Cook, I think this one has the potential to get ugly. I think this is a game where the offense needs to help out the defense and the offense will need Cook at his best to function. I don't see a high shootout between Dak and Cousins, this one is going to be a ball control gameplan (what a hot take given Zimmer, I know). Below are the highlights, which is a bit long, but just watching the opening drive by the Vikings you can basically see it as that's how the majority of the game went. It's all runs and dink and dunk football. As well as Cousins is playing, if I'm Dallas, I'm selling out to stop Cook and see if KC can beat you.

https://youtu.be/5m-vAN7Uh_s
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Re: How on earth … are the Vikings gonna stop the Cowboys?

Post by CharVike » Tue Oct 26, 2021 8:57 am

Zimmer will never go for a shoot out. I think his offensive game plan will be to run Cook and keep their O off the field. He will also get some screens and dump offs. It will be the Cook show. However Udoh has been a Dozier clone so maybe Davis will get in the lineup. Last week he was flagged four times and posted a season-low 40.3 PFF grade. Through 6 games Dozier had a 55.6 grade and Udoh’s is at 55.9. He's fallen of the table after a great start. On D Zim will try and pressure Dak and force him into a mistake. Dak is playing as well as anybody. Dantzler will be charred in this one. He has the bullseye on him and I expect Dak to go after him. Zim will keep both safeties back to prevent the deep strike which will limit our ability to stop the run. This fits perfect with his run the clock out game plan. With that this game will come down to the finale drive again. The Boys will be up by 7 which thankfully takes the FG out of the equation and he'll allow the passing game to get involved. We will score and it will come to a win or tie decision. He'll go for the tie and our kicker will be thinking don't block it right again and then pull it left of the goal post for a one point loss 24-23.
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Re: How on earth … are the Vikings gonna stop the Cowboys?

Post by StumpHunter » Tue Oct 26, 2021 9:31 am

CharVike wrote:
Tue Oct 26, 2021 8:57 am
Zimmer will never go for a shoot out. I think his offensive game plan will be to run Cook and keep their O off the field. He will also get some screens and dump offs. It will be the Cook show. However Udoh has been a Dozier clone so maybe Davis will get in the lineup. Last week he was flagged four times and posted a season-low 40.3 PFF grade. Through 6 games Dozier had a 55.6 grade and Udoh’s is at 55.9. He's fallen of the table after a great start. On D Zim will try and pressure Dak and force him into a mistake. Dak is playing as well as anybody. Dantzler will be charred in this one. He has the bullseye on him and I expect Dak to go after him. Zim will keep both safeties back to prevent the deep strike which will limit our ability to stop the run. This fits perfect with his run the clock out game plan. With that this game will come down to the finale drive again. The Boys will be up by 7 which thankfully takes the FG out of the equation and he'll allow the passing game to get involved. We will score and it will come to a win or tie decision. He'll go for the tie and our kicker will be thinking don't block it right again and then pull it left of the goal post for a one point loss 24-23.
It is bizarre to read this about a team that is passing 4th most per game of any team.
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Re: How on earth … are the Vikings gonna stop the Cowboys?

Post by psjordan » Tue Oct 26, 2021 10:48 am

Interesting passing stats:

Cousins:
1st quarter: 366 yards passing, 4 td’s
2nd quarter: 468 and 6
3rd quarter: 300 and 2
4th quarter: 558 and 0
OT: 77 and 1
239 total passing attempts, 86 (36%) in 4th quarter/OT
59% of total passing attempts on 1st or 2nd down

Prescott:
1st quarter: 553 yards passing, 3 td’s
2nd quarter: 452 and 4
3rd quarter: 423 and 6
4th quarter: 314 and 2
OT: 71 and 1
216 total passing attempts, 49 (22.7%) in 4th quarter/OT
75% of total passing attempts on 1st or 2nd down

IMO these numbers reveal a lot about the offensive approach of each team, and why putting yourself in conservative positions late in games can skew supposedly “good” numbers all over the place.
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Re: How on earth … are the Vikings gonna stop the Cowboys?

Post by CharVike » Tue Oct 26, 2021 10:56 am

StumpHunter wrote:
Tue Oct 26, 2021 9:31 am
CharVike wrote:
Tue Oct 26, 2021 8:57 am
Zimmer will never go for a shoot out. I think his offensive game plan will be to run Cook and keep their O off the field. He will also get some screens and dump offs. It will be the Cook show. However Udoh has been a Dozier clone so maybe Davis will get in the lineup. Last week he was flagged four times and posted a season-low 40.3 PFF grade. Through 6 games Dozier had a 55.6 grade and Udoh’s is at 55.9. He's fallen of the table after a great start. On D Zim will try and pressure Dak and force him into a mistake. Dak is playing as well as anybody. Dantzler will be charred in this one. He has the bullseye on him and I expect Dak to go after him. Zim will keep both safeties back to prevent the deep strike which will limit our ability to stop the run. This fits perfect with his run the clock out game plan. With that this game will come down to the finale drive again. The Boys will be up by 7 which thankfully takes the FG out of the equation and he'll allow the passing game to get involved. We will score and it will come to a win or tie decision. He'll go for the tie and our kicker will be thinking don't block it right again and then pull it left of the goal post for a one point loss 24-23.
It is bizarre to read this about a team that is passing 4th most per game of any team.
Yea that last drive was bizarre we haven't seen one of those in awhile. That's were the attempts are coming from. Our attempts are almost double in the 4th compared to the 1st.
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Re: How on earth … are the Vikings gonna stop the Cowboys?

Post by StumpHunter » Tue Oct 26, 2021 11:42 am

CharVike wrote:
Tue Oct 26, 2021 10:56 am
StumpHunter wrote:
Tue Oct 26, 2021 9:31 am

It is bizarre to read this about a team that is passing 4th most per game of any team.
Yea that last drive was bizarre we haven't seen one of those in awhile. That's were the attempts are coming from.
So your theory is that we are 4th in passing because we passed 6 times on the final drive of the game against Carolina? :shock:
CharVike wrote:
Tue Oct 26, 2021 10:56 am

Our attempts are almost double in the 4th compared to the 1st.
The Vikings are 20th in pass/run percentage in the first half and they are 11th in points scored in the first half, 3rd among teams that have only played 6 games.

Contrast that with the 2nd half where they are 13th in pass/run percentage and 25th in points scored in the second half.

Seems like simply passing more is the key to a successful Vikings' offense to me! :thumbsup:
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Re: How on earth … are the Vikings gonna stop the Cowboys?

Post by StpViking » Tue Oct 26, 2021 12:00 pm

The most consistent thing about Cousins and Zimmer is beating below .500 and losing to above .500 teams. Just look at the record this year.

I agree the main thing to watch for is Dallas' Defense against Cook. If they can stop him, it's over for the Vikings.

As a football fan, I can at least look forward to a good game. The Vikings are hard to beat at home and they tend to play up to competition as well as down. So it will be a close game.

Cowboys 21 Vikings 17
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Re: How on earth … are the Vikings gonna stop the Cowboys?

Post by CharVike » Tue Oct 26, 2021 12:16 pm

StumpHunter wrote:
Tue Oct 26, 2021 11:42 am
CharVike wrote:
Tue Oct 26, 2021 10:56 am

Yea that last drive was bizarre we haven't seen one of those in awhile. That's were the attempts are coming from.
So your theory is that we are 4th in passing because we passed 6 times on the final drive of the game against Carolina? :shock:
CharVike wrote:
Tue Oct 26, 2021 10:56 am

Our attempts are almost double in the 4th compared to the 1st.
The Vikings are 20th in pass/run percentage in the first half and they are 11th in points scored in the first half, 3rd among teams that have only played 6 games.

Contrast that with the 2nd half where they are 13th in pass/run percentage and 25th in points scored in the second half.

Seems like simply passing more is the key to a successful Vikings' offense to me! :thumbsup:
They can't score at all in the 2nd half. That's been all year. Doesn't matter what they do. Better off throwing it up for grabs in the end zone. Zimmer has said himself and the rest of his offensive crew are looking at stuff and trying to come up with something. Supposedly he gave them a list of things to look at during the bye week. IMO at halftime the opponents are making the adjustments and it's working. On our side we haven't countered those adjustments.
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