Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Steven Mullenax, Editor and head writer of The Landry Hat, about the upcoming game on Sunday between the Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys. The Landry Hat is one of the premier sites for news and information about the Dallas Cowboys. I asked him five questions
1) The situation at quarterback for the Vikings has been a circus so far. Is there one quarterback that you think would fare best against the Cowboys? And is there a quarterback that you would prefer the Vikings to start?
I think Christian Ponder gives Minnesota the best chance for success against the Cowboys on Sunday. Simply because he’s been in the system longer. He is capable of being a game-manager and possesses surprising quickness if he’s pushed out of the pocket. (something the Cowboys defense has struggled with) The Vikings need to limit their turnovers and feed running back Adrian Peterson in order to have a chance against Dallas. Ponder can do that. Josh Freeman showed he still needs more time to adjust after going 20 of 53 passes against the New York Giants in Week Seven. That being said, I’ll prefer to see Freeman play the Cowboys as I believe the Dallas defense would increase their turnover totals for the year with him at the helm.
2) The Vikings are giving up franchise record numbers for passing yards. Considering the high octane passing game of Dallas, how often do you feel the Cowboys will take advantage of Minnesota’s inexperienced secondary?
Probably not as much as you might think. Dallas’ offense has sputtered since Week Five’s shootout with the Denver Broncos. Quarterback Tony Romo has been in a bit of a slump the past three weeks, averaging 241 yards per game. And recording just five touchdowns and three interceptions in that same span. I expect the Cowboys offense to start slow, which is their custom, as they try to establish the running game behind DeMarco Murray. Outside of the occasional big play from either wideout Dez Bryant or Terrance Williams, I’m not anticipating an offensive explosion from either team on Sunday.
3) The Vikings are only averaging 16 points per game over the course of the last three games. Other than Adrian Peterson, which offensive weapon is the scariest on this Vikings team?
For me, I have two. Rookie wideout Cordarrelle Patterson and tight end Kyle Rudolph. Patterson has been spectacular of late on special teams. In a game where I think field position will play a pivotal part in deciding who wins, the Vikings’ Patterson against the Cowboys’ Dwayne Harris might be the most important matchup in the game. The Dallas defense has consistently given up the big play and can be hurt by the opposing team’s tight ends. Rudolph is the Vikings leading receiver going into Week Nine. And I don’t see that changing even after the game ends.
4) Who is one player on the Dallas Cowboys team that is very underrated and Vikings fans should learn the name of before this game?
Despite the dominance by Lions’ wideout Calvin Johnson last Sunday, undrafted rookie safety Jeff Heath played well filling in for injured starter J.J. Wilcox. Heath is deceptively fast, rangy and has a nose for the football. He will get the start again this weekend against the Vikings. And with Minnesota’s struggling passing offense, I’m expecting a big day from the unheralded young man out of Saginaw Valley.
5) What is your prediction for an outcome and final score of the game?
Although they are currently ranked last in total defense in the NFL, the Dallas “D” is the main reason the Cowboys are atop the NFC East. I fully expect the Cowboys offense to continue to struggle, breaking out the occasional big play. Although they do seem to play better at home this season, which is something new. But it should be the Cowboys’ defense that wins this game by causing havoc and turnovers regardless of who is at the helm for Minnesota. Cowboys 26, Vikings 16.