EAGAN, Minn. – It's been said that the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.
And the Vikings certainly have an elephant-sized stretch of games coming up.
Minnesota (3-3) will come out of its bye to host Dallas (5-1) at U.S. Bank Stadium for Sunday Night Football this weekend. The Vikings then will play back-to-back home games against the Ravens and Chargers (talk about a cross-country trip) before returning home to host the division-rival Packers.
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer acknowledged that the next four games will be significant for a team that clawed its way out of a 1-3 start.
Look back at photos over the course of time featuring games between the Vikings and the Cowboys.
This week, though, the Vikings are focused only on the Cowboys.
"I think it's important for the whole team that we approach each game [one at a time]. You can't get too much ahead of yourself," Zimmer reiterated. "I, unfortunately, have to look at the schedule a little bit more than they do, but I don't know other than – I mean, I know the next three games, but I don't really worry too much past that.
"We have to put all of our focus and intensity this week into practice; we have to put it all into Dallas and try to play the very best we can," he added. "When that game's over, then we'll move on to the next week."
Looking at each game as its own entity.
Trying to come out of each week 1-0.
Not letting your eyes get too far ahead.
View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of Jan. 5, 2022.
All are sentiments often expressed by not only Zimmer but players throughout the locker room.
"I don't really know the schedule, honestly," linebacker Eric Kendricks said in September. "I've never ever known the schedule. People tell me who we're playing, usually."
Right tackle Brian O'Neill said the same thing Monday when he spoke to Twin Cities media members.
"To be honest, I had no idea who we play after the Cowboys until you just told me. I kind of operate on a week-to-week, day-to-day basis," O'Neill said. "But all I know is the Dallas Cowboys are really good. They have a really good record and a lot of talent up front.
"That's really the only challenge I'm looking forward to, is this week, because if you get caught looking past anybody in this league, they'll hurt you," he continued. "[The Cowboys] have plenty of talent and I've got a lot of respect for them, so you can't really look past this one."
O'Neill said he full unplugged from the football grind during the team's bye, doing so in order to refresh and recuperate physically and mentally before facing Dallas on the prime-time stage.
It's back to a normal week for the Vikings now, and their sites are set solely on Dak Prescott and the Cowboys.
"I know the standings and where people are and things like that, [but] we have to go play one week at a time," Zimmer said. "I think as you see the games in the past six weeks, or seven weeks, a lot of teams can come beat a lot of different people.
"It's important that we focus all of our attention on Dallas this week, and then we'll worry about Baltimore next week and the Chargers, and so forth," he added. "But yeah, we're getting ready to play some really good football teams, and for us to prove where we are, this stretch will be important."