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Vikings: 3 keys to victory against the Dallas Cowboys

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) throws during the first half of a game against the Kansas City Chiefs in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019. Photo: Reed Hoffmann/Associated Press
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) throws during the first half of a game against the Kansas City Chiefs in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019.

Updated: November 10, 2019 08:50 AM

On paper, Sunday night's game between the Vikings and Cowboys looks to be an exciting matchup between two very similar teams. Both teams come into the primetime matchup trying to stay in their divisional races with two of the top running backs in the league, Dalvin Cook and Ezekiel Elliott.

Below, the KSTP Sports team looks at three keys for the Vikings as they look to rebound after a heartbreaking loss against the Chiefs.

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1. Stop the run

The Vikings lose defensive tackle and run-stopping specialist Linval Joseph at the worst possible time this week. 

The Cowboys love to the run the football behind one of the top offensive lines, and Elliott is one of the top running backs in football. Elliott has rushed for over 100 yards in three straight games and has scored a touchdown in four of Dallas's last five games.

"Very good running game, very good in the play actions," Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards said about the Cowboys. "They’re like 50% on third down, they’re No. 1 in the league. You look at them statistically, they’re No. 1 in a lot of statistics. They do very good in situational football, so this will be a big challenge for us."

2. Get Irv Smith Jr. involved in the offense

With Adam Thielen missing another game with his hamstring injury, the Vikings need to find another option to stretch the field. Rookie tight end Irv Smith Jr. could be that guy. Smith could give the Cowboys linebackers trouble in man coverage.

Smith has 12 catches over the last three games compared to only seven receptions in their first five games.

3. Win the quarterback battle

Dak Prescott has owned his head-to-head matchups against Kirk Cousins. Prescott is 4-0 against Cousins, but all of those games were when Cousins was with the Washington Redskins.

Prescott has been impressive in primetime games with 14 career wins under the lights, while Cousins is only 6-28 when playing against teams with a winning record.

Prescott is second in the NFL in Total QBR this season, while Cousins ranks 14th.

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