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Final Thoughts: A Formidable Foe, Playing Short-Handed & Targeting Diggs

One of the things that the Vikings did so well in 2017 was taking advantage of multiple do-overs because that season’s schedule mirrored so much of 2016.

Minnesota turned a frustrating 8-8 finish into a 13-3 campaign on the way to claiming its second division title in three seasons.

This week, the Vikings (6-3) are trying to bounce back from a stinging 26-23 loss to the Chiefs in Kansas City. Formidable foe Dallas is 5-3 and looking for its second three-game win streak of the season.

The teams will meet on the big stage of Sunday Night Football for a 7:20 p.m. (CT) kickoff.

There obviously are different players and coaches farther down I-35 than last week’s destination, but the Cowboys and Chiefs have similar stats, especially in offensive efficiency and big-play potential.

One notable difference in what’s at-stake this week is that this game is a matchup between two NFC teams instead of an NFC and AFC team.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer is returning to face the team that first hired him in the NFL in 1994. Revisit his story here.

Injury Report

The Vikings on Friday ruled out WR Adam Thielen (hamstring), Linval Joseph (knee) and Andrew Sendejo (groin). Minnesota also listed Trae Waynes (ankle/not injury related) and Stephen Weatherly (groin) as questionable.

Thielen rallied to play last week but left the game early. He was targeted once on a play that fell incomplete in his first game action since Week 7. Joseph fully participated on Wednesday but was listed as limited Thursday and Friday. Jaleel Johnson is prepared to start in place of Joseph at nose tackle. It will be Johnson’s second career start and first since Oct. 21, 2018.

The only player that Dallas ruled out is backup tackle Cameron Fleming (calf). Starting tackles Tyron Smith (ankle) and La’el Collins (knee) were both listed as limited participants all week, as was right guard Zack Martin (back/ankle). Cowboys receivers Amari Cooper (knee/ankle), who was limited Wednesday and Friday and did not participate Thursday, and Michael Gallup (knee) also are on the report. Linebackers Sean Lee (pectoral/not injury related) and Leighton Vander Esch (neck) and safety Jeff Heath (shoulder/knee) were limited at different points this week.

That’s quite a few Cowboys starters who potentially may be at less than 100 percent, but that’s also what a Week 10 injury report can look like in the NFL.

Fan Mail

I just wondered, why didn’t Diggs have more participation.

— Michael from Mexico City

Thank you, Michael, for your question.

The box score read one reception for four yards on five targets. The receptions total and yardage tied a career low for the fifth-year receiver. He now has had three games with one reception and one other game with four yards, but this was the first time the Vikings hadn’t won, and it especially looked stark in comparison to the previous three games in which he totaled a franchise record 452 yards from Week 6 through Week 8.

Diggs, however, was in for 62 of Minnesota’s 70 plays (89 percent) on Sunday in Kansas City. That means that the Chiefs had a pretty strong plan for trying to discourage the read by Kirk Cousins resulting in a pass to Diggs. The duo also narrowly missed connecting on a deep pass late in the first half that would have moved the ball from the Kansas City 43 to about the 5.

The other component is that the Vikings were without Thielen for much of the game. The respect factor that Diggs and Thielen have built over the past few seasons forces defenses to make some tough decisions with coverage resources.

Minnesota knows it will be without Thielen this week, so it could scheme a little more for Diggs heading into the game, but the Vikings might have to change on the fly because of the coverages used by the Cowboys.

Quotable

“They’re looking to collapse the pocket. There’s a ton of movement from their defensive tackles, from their defensive ends, whether with pressure or without. They’re moving, they’re changing gaps, but they’re coming off the ball. It’s an extremely impressive group talent-wise. I think the scheme is excellent. So we’re going to have our work cut out for us.”

— Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski

Stat of the Week — 3-10

The Vikings are 3-10 in the 13 games in which they have allowed a rush of 30 or more yards since 2014. The 89 games in that span include a loss to Dallas when Ezekiel Elliott ripped off a 30-yarder in 2016.

Broadcast Info

TELEVISION BROADCAST

NBC (KARE 11 in Minneapolis/St. Paul)

Play-by-Play: Al Michaels

Analyst: Cris Collinsworth

Sideline Reporter: Michele Tafoya

ON MOBILE

Because this is a national broadcast, fans from coast to coast will be able to watch the game on their iOS mobile devices with the VIKINGS APP or VIKINGS MOBILE SITE (Safari browser only).

LOCAL RADIO

KFAN 100.3-FM/KTLK 1130-AM in Minneapolis/St. Paul

Play-by-Play: Paul Allen

Analyst: Pete Bercich

Sideline Reporters: Greg Coleman & Ben Leber

Radio Pre-game Show: Mike Mussman | 5 p.m. (CT)

KFAN and KTLK serve as the flagship stations for the five-state Vikings Radio Network.

NATIONAL RADIO

Westwood One Sports

Play-by-Play: Kevin Kugler

Analyst: Jason Taylor

SATELLITE RADIO

Sirius: MIN 81 or Streaming 819; DAL 83 or Streaming 808; NATIONAL 88 or Streaming 88; SPANISH Streaming 970

XM: MIN 225 or Streaming 819; DAL 226 or Streaming 808; NATIONAL 88 or Streaming 88; SPANISH Streaming 970

ADDITIONAL OPTIONS

Click here for the full bevy of options that include over-the-air, cable, satellite, over-the-top and streaming methods.

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