Vikings fans awaiting Minnesota's visit to Philadelphia on Oct. 23 after the bye have plenty of other interesting games to watch this weekend. Here's a preview of four that piqued the interest of the Vikings.com staff:
Dallas Cowboys at Green Bay Packers – 3:25 p.m. (CT) – FOX | By Mike Wobschall
Two of the NFC's traditional powerhouses meet at historic Lambeau Field in what looks to be the best matchup on the Week 6 docket. Dallas enters with a 4-1 record, including a 2-0 mark on the road, while the Packers enter with a 3-1 record, are 2-0 at home and are coming off a Sunday Night Football win over the New York Giants. This game is also interesting for Vikings fans in particular because both teams are on the post-bye schedule, with Dallas coming to U.S. Bank Stadium in Week 13 for Thursday Night Football and Green Bay set to host the Vikings in Week 16 on Christmas Eve.
The key matchup in this contest involves the running game. Dallas boasts the NFL's top rushing offense and is averaging 155.2 rushing yards per game; the Cowboys have also scored 11 rushing touchdowns already this season. Rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott ranks No. 1 in the league in rushing yards (546), attempts (109), runs of 20 yards (5) and runs resulting in a first down (31). Green Bay, on the other hand, is the NFL's top-rated rushing defense, allowing only 42.8 rushing yards per game; the Packers are also one of just three teams to allow zero or one rushing touchdown on the season.
Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins – Noon (CT) – FOX | By Craig Peters
The Eagles (3-1) suffered their first defeat of the season last week, falling 24-23 at Detroit, after their early season bye. The Redskins (3-2) dropped their first two of the season but are going for their fourth-straight win. Philadelphia has been great after halftimes this season, outscoring teams 53-3 in four third quarters, and Washington has struggled before intermissions by a combined score of 44-23 in five second quarters. The Vikings will cap a run of three road contests in four games with a trip to Washington on Nov. 13.
Philadelphia has flown high with rookie quarterback Carson Wentz, who is 91-of-135 passing (67.4 percent) for 1,007 yards with seven touchdowns and one interception for a rating of 103.5. Wentz suffered his first interception last week, and the Eagles also lost a fumble by Ryan Mathews, their leading rusher. Mathews has 44 carries for 146 yards with three scores and has had help from Darren Sproles (24 carries for 96 yards) and Wendell Smallwood (20 carries for 96 yards). Sproles also ranks second on the team in receptions (14 for 183 yards) behind Jordan Matthews (19 for 269 with two touchdowns). The Eagles defense ranks second in points allowed per game, has forced seven takeaways and 13 sacks.
Washington's Kirk Cousins is 129-of-192 passing (67.2 percent) for 1,432 yards with seven touchdowns and five interceptions for a rating of 90.5. Tight end Jordan Reed is leading the Redskins with 33 catches (tied for fifth in the NFL) for 316 yards and two scores. Pierre Garcon (22 catches, 230 yards), Jamison Crowder (21 catches, 230 yards) and DeSean Jackson (18 catches, 278 yards). The Redskins defense ranks last in the NFL in rush yards allowed per attempt (5.1) and in third-down conversion percentage allowed (48.4). Washington has forced nine turnovers and recorded 11 sacks.
Los Angeles Rams at Detroit Lions – Noon (CT) – FOX | By Lindsey Young
The NFC North division rival Lions (2-3) are in the middle of a three-game home stand and will look to snag a second consecutive win after handing the Eagles their first loss last week. The Rams enter Detroit with a 3-2 record, with two of those wins coming on the road. Both teams are a bit dinged up. Of the five Rams listed on their injury report, three are starting defensive linemen. Detroit's injury report also includes a number of defensive players, including defensive end Ezekiel Ansah and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. Although this matchup may not jump out as one of the headliner games, it gives Vikings fans an opportunity to watch the Lions – whom Minnesota will face twice in November – in action.
An interesting facet of this game will be Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford against the Rams secondary. Stafford is off to a positive start to the season, completing 123 of 181 passes for 1,378 yards with 10 touchdowns and four interceptions in the first five games of the post-Calvin Johnson era. Marvin Jones is averaging 19.2 yards per reception on 27 catches and has three touchdowns. Running back Theo Riddick is Detroit's second-leading receiver with 26 catches and three scores. Rams safety Mark Barron has two picks already this season and likely will seek out to increase that number. Starting cornerback Trumaine Johnson, who also has an interception, left last week's game with an ankle injury.
Atlanta Falcons at Seattle Seahawks – 3:25 p.m. (CT) – FOX | By Eric Smith
The Vikings don't play either of these two teams during the regular season, but this battle of the birds bears watching because of the potential postseason implications in the NFC. While the Vikings are the league's only unbeaten team at 5-0, the Falcons (4-1) and Seahawks (3-1) are right behind Minnesota in the early race for home-field advantage in the playoffs. And speaking of playing at home, both of these teams have been perfect on their home turf so far this season.
Sunday's matchup should pit Atlanta's high-flying offense against Seattle's punishing defense. Atlanta made national noise last weekend when they went into Denver and knocked off the defending Super Bowl champions a week after blasting the runner-up Panthers. The Falcons have been paced by a strong offense and possible MVP candidate in quarterback Matt Ryan, who has put up staggering numbers thus far. Ryan has thrown for 1,740 yards (including a 503-yard performance against Carolina) with 12 touchdowns and two interceptions. Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones has been his usual self with 24 catches for 517 yards and three scores.
The Seahawks, who had a bye last weekend, will counter with their normally stout defense. Seattle leads the league in allowing just 264 yards per game and is third (behind the Vikings and Eagles) at giving up just 13.5 points per game. Offensively, quarterback Russell Wilson has thrown for 1,064 yards with five touchdowns and an interception.