EAGAN, Minn. — Since its opening in 2016, U.S. Bank Stadium has stood as a fortress of intimidation for nearly every opponent, with the Vikings holding a 35-17 record at home.
Five NFL teams have not lost to the Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium, but the Cowboys are the only one of the five with multiple victories.
When Minnesota (8-1) hosts Dallas (6-3) at 3:25 p.m. (CT) Sunday on CBS, it'll be the fourth matchup between the two teams in the stadium, with Dallas having won the past three meetings.
All three games have come down to the wire, with each ending in a one-score margin (17-15 in 2016, 31-28 in 2020 and 20-16 last season).
The Vikings loss to Dallas last season was one of Minnesota's eight by one score. This season, the Vikings have completely turned it around, with each of their seven consecutive victories coming by one score.
The streak has tied an NFL record, with Minnesota joining the Kansas City Chiefs, who set the record during the 2020 season.
Minnesota's most recent victory — a 33-30 overtime thriller against Buffalo this past Sunday — showed the Vikings are capable of winning against a team with a record above .500. Now, the attention will be on them to do it again.
Sunday's game against Dallas will be the first of five games in six weeks at home for Minnesota.
Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell said the team is looking forward to being back home where the Vikings have gone 4-0 so far this season, but he understands Dallas presents challenges in all three phases.
"Excited to be coming back home to U.S. Bank Stadium. [It's] a real opportunity for our team to really have a good stretch of time here where we get to play in front of our home fans. It's been a huge advantage this year," O'Connell said.
"Heck of a challenge for our team. I just told them there's no better opportunity to go continue to strive to play our best football game yet, our most complete football game yet, back home in front of our great fans, it should be an unbelievable environment on Sunday, and we're going to need it," O'Connell added. "We're going to need our fans, a great effort out of our group, coaches and players together with this type of team, a really talented team coming in here."
Minnesota is the last team to be undefeated at home this season.
Here's what Sam Thiel, Lindsey Young and Craig Peters of Vikings.com will be watching for in Sunday's game:
Stopping Dallas' stars | By Sam Thiel
For the second consecutive week, the Vikings defense will go up against an opposing offense filled with stars.
The Cowboys are led by quarterback Dak Prescott, who will play in his fourth consecutive game since returning from a right thumb injury.
In four games this season, Prescott has thrown for 856 yards (34th in the NFL) and recorded six touchdowns (tied for 28th) and four interceptions (tied for ninth).
"Dak is a very, very successful quarterback in this league I have respect for," Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson said. "You can just tell he just has the feel for the offense, looking like they're starting to catch their stride ever since he got back into the lineup."
Running back Ezekiel Elliott has rushed for 443 yards (tied for 28th) and four touchdowns (tied for 15th), but he has missed the past two games due to a knee injury. Elliott told reporters Thursday that he's "optimistic" he'll make his return Sunday.
Tony Pollard has done well in "Zeke's" absence, ranking 13th in rushing yards (621) and tying for seventh in touchdowns (six). He has run for at least 115 yards the past two games and scored a combined four touchdowns, including a three-score game vs. Chicago on Oct. 30.
Look back at photos over the course of time featuring games between the Vikings and the Cowboys.
CeeDee Lamb leads the receiving corps and is in the top 10 in the NFL in receptions (53, 10th), yards (706, 10th) and touchdowns (five, tied for ninth). Michael Gallup has added 170 receiving yards on 16 catches and a score.
Tight end Dalton Schultz also has 257 receiving yards and a touchdown this season.
As a team, Dallas is 11th in scoring (23.4 points per game) and eighth in rushing yards per game (134.6) but is 26th in passing yards per game (198.6).
Peterson said while the Cowboys will lean toward the run, the Vikings have to take away Dallas' ability to throw downfield.
"They're a run-first team, but they thrive off of play-action, so we have to make sure we knock out the run and try to limit those big plays they make down the field," Peterson said. "Dak can make all the throws; these guys have talent all over the field. [Their] offensive line is really big, strong and agile … I think it's a challenge we're ready for."
O'Connell said defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson will miss a third consecutive game because of a calf injury he suffered against Arizona. He's been pleased with the way that Tomlinson's teammates like Harrison Phillips, James Lynch and Khyiris Tonga have worked in Tomlinson's absence.
"We really needed them to step up and play with that physicality to help make sure we didn't have to change too much about how we're defending the run game, and both of those guys and Harrison Phillips has been huge, kind of leading the charge, as well as those guys on the edge," O'Connell said. "You can't say enough about [Za'Darius Smith] and Danielle [Hunter], Patrick Jones and D.J. Wonnum, how they set those edges."
Another Day, Another Diggs | By Lindsey Young
Last week, I wrote about the importance of containing former Vikings WR Stefon Diggs at Buffalo.
The Vikings did enough and pulled out an especially crazy overtime win over the Bills and have since turned their attention to this weekend's game against Dallas. But they're still contending with a Diggs. Only this time, it's Trevon.
Stefon's younger brother plays cornerback for the Cowboys and was drafted 51st overall in 2020. Last season, Trevon racked up 11 interceptions and returned two of them for touchdowns. He "only" has three picks through his first nine games this season, but the Vikings are well-aware of the threat he poses.
"He does a great job going up and looking for the ball. He has tremendous ball skills," Justin Jefferson told media members Thursday. "He played receiver before, so it's easier for him. You've got to do everything in your power for him not to get to that ball. When that ball is in the air, it's yours or nobody's."
Jefferson and Diggs are familiar with one another after playing collegiately in the SEC for LSU and Alabama, respectively. But interestingly, according to analytics site Pro Football Focus, Jefferson has never been targeted when Diggs has been in coverage. When the Crimson Tide and Tigers played each other in 2019, Diggs allowed four catches for 88 yards and a touchdown to Ja'Marr Chase.
Will Jefferson be targeted while covered by Diggs this weekend? It's highly likely.
Though Diggs hasn't often traveled with or shadowed one specific receiver in games this season, he has aligned at right outside CB on 86.9 percent of snaps this season (according to Next Gen Stats). Jefferson, meanwhile, has lined up at left outside WR on 48.1 percent of snaps. So even if Diggs doesn't trail him the whole afternoon, it's likely Jefferson will match up against the corner a fair bit.
"I just hope Kirk [Cousins] has that same energy as he had last week of just giving me opportunities and letting me go make a play," Jefferson said. "But he's definitely a great corner."
Limiting Parsons problems | By Craig Peters
Vikings fans might remember Micah Parsons' first game against Minnesota on Halloween last year when he recorded career highs of 11 tackles and four tackles for loss.
It was an impressive showing on his way to garnering Rookie of the Year and Defensive Rookie of the Year awards from the Pro Football Writers of America and being named the Defensive Rookie of the Year by The Associated Press. Parsons made the Pro Bowl and was named First-Team All-Pro.
He's a dynamic chess piece that can be moved around Dallas' defense to attack or cause devotion of attention to free up teammates. This year, the Cowboys added former Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr, who commanded considerable attention from opponents in starting 98 regular-season games for Minnesota from 2014-21.
Parsons ranks in the top 10 in sacks (8.0), quarterback hits (14), forced fumbles (two) and tackles for loss (10) this season.
"You just have to be aware of great players, whoever that might be, and where they are, but if they're only a rusher, then you're kind of finding them on the line of scrimmage all the time," Vikings Offensive Coordinator Wes Phillips said. "[Parsons] can be off the ball. He's capable of covering. You can say, 'Hey, we'll go to him, no matter where he's at,' but they've also got, they'll also rush Anthony Barr or Leighton Vander Esch, and then your back is on a guy who is 6-foot-4, 255 pounds, so there's challenges to the other matchups as well. But when you're saying, 'Hey, we've got to account for this guy,' now, you can put in four true defensive linemen with him, and you've got five guys where they're creating some sort of 1-on-1."
"They like to bring five-man pressures or align five guys on the line," Phillips continued. "They have a lot of movement and picks, and they're very athletic, so they get there fast. It's going to be a real challenge for us, for our technique, for our eyes and our pass sets, handling all the movement and also locating where Parsons is. You can talk about him, but I think just scheme in general, DeMarcus [Lawrence] has 5.0 sacks, and [Dorance] Armstrong has 5.0 sacks, and [Dante] Fowler has got 4.0, and Sam Williams has 3.0. The safety, 6, (Donovan Wilson) he's got 3.0 sacks, and he leads their team in tackles and has [two] more than Vander Esch, which is pretty rare for a strong safety. They've got a lot of good players over there, so it's challenging to break these guys down and try to figure out the plan to pick up all their different packages, but by the end of the week, I think we'll feel pretty good about it."