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Vikings-Cowboys Has Potential for Offensive Fireworks

EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings and Cowboys will square off Sunday night, which just happens to be Halloween.

But perhaps the Fourth of July would be a more fitting backdrop, especially considering the amount of offensive fireworks that could take place inside U.S. Bank Stadium in prime time.

Dallas enters Week 8 with the league's top-ranked offense in both yards (460.8) and points scored (34.2) per game. The Cowboys also have a league-best 6.58 yards per play and average 27.3 first downs per game which, you guessed it, leads all NFL teams.

Minnesota, meanwhile, ranks fifth in yards per game (414.2), is 10th overall in yards per play (5.93) and is 14th with 24.5 points per game.

Kirk Cousins and the Vikings offense won't share the field at the same time with Dak Prescott and Dallas, but you can bet he knows who is on the opposing sideline.

"I think you have to be aware of the team you're playing, which includes the offense and the special teams," Cousins said Wednesday. "Just be aware of the whole picture, and much of that is coaching decisions as opposed to me as the player."

The numbers above show the Vikings haven't been as explosive or as consistently successful as the Cowboys.

But Minnesota is coming off its best game of the season, a 571-yard output against Carolina in Week 6 that ranked as the third-most yards in a single game in franchise history.

The Vikings also put up 34 points on the scoreboard behind another strong performance from Cousins, who has already recorded three games this season with three touchdown passes and no interceptions.

Minnesota — which can roll out the trio of Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen — hopes to keep that momentum going in a pivotal NFC matchup.

"We all feel good on this team coming off that bye week, so we just have to keep it up from what we did before the bye week," Cook said.

The Cowboys were also off last week, and are also coming off their best offensive performance of the season in Week 6. Dallas racked up 567 yards and 35 points in a win at New England.

The praise was aplenty from the Vikings on Wednesday, including from Head Coach Mike Zimmer.

"No. 1, they've got a lot of good players," Zimmer said. "The offensive line is very good, both of their backs are really good, the tight ends are good, they have three good receivers, and the quarterback is playing well. That, with the scheme that they run, I think they do a lot of good things."

Up front, the Cowboys boast standouts at left tackle with Tyron Smith (a two-time All-Pro), as well as right guard Zack Martin, who has four All-Pro selections on his resumé. Right tackle La'el Collins, who was suspended for the past five games, is expected to make his return in Week 8.

"Martin is extremely good. Tyron Smith is good, and I think they're getting Collins back this week," Zimmer said. "So they're big, they're powerful, they do a good job in protection, as far as you're going to have to beat some guys to get to the quarterback.

"He's had really good, clean pockets to throw, which helps," Zimmer added. "So that's helped a lot as well. But the run game sets everything up."

Speaking of Prescott, he's been nursing a calf injury, but the Vikings are planning on him playing Sunday night.

And he has quite the array of weapons in wide receivers CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper, tight end Dalton Schultz and running backs Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard.

That quintet has recorded 2,387 combined yards from scrimmage and 18 total touchdowns through six games.

"It's hard to fool him, No. 1, when they have a good idea of what's going on," Zimmer said of Prescott. "But all quarterbacks for the most part do a good job of trying to figure out post snap coverage. That's really what's important.

"He's very fortunate that he has CeeDee Lamb on one side and all the other guys on the other side that help out. Then they've got the backs, too. I've been impressed with Schultz as well," Zimmer added. "And Cooper is a sneaky route runner who gives you different releases and accelerates and changes pace."

Minnesota has split the past two meetings against Dallas, getting a road win in 2019 (against Prescott) but falling at home in 2020 (without fans and with Prescott out with an injury).

Look back at photos over the course of time featuring games between the Vikings and the Cowboys.

The Vikings will hope that history is on their side when it comes to Zimmer going up against No. 1 offenses in his career.

According to stats provided by NFL Media Research, Zimmer is 6-2 as a head coach or defensive coordinator against the league's top-ranked offense. And, he has held those eight teams below their season scoring average in each game.

You can bet he'll be ready to go for this one to make sure the potential offensive shootout doesn't materialize. After all, his first NFL gig was with Dallas, where he coached defensive backs from 1994-99 before becoming the Cowboys defensive coordinator (2000-06).

"Should be a really fun atmosphere Sunday night," Zimmer said. "Good to be in front of the fans at U.S. Bank [Stadium] and excited to go out and play against the Cowboys."