Coming off the bye week, the Dallas Cowboys hope to extend their win streak to six in a Sunday Night Football matchup with the Minnesota Vikings. The NFC currently has five teams with one loss so the Cowboys can not afford to give up any ground as they chase the number one seed.
With star players on both sides of the field, Sunday night will have many great head-to-head battles. Without further ado, here are the must-see matchups for the showdown in Minnesota.
Dallas Cowboys: 1. Ezekiel Elliott vs. Vikings run defense
Ezekiel Elliott has been on a tear this year carrying the football. He is averaging 86.6 rushing yards per game and 5.1 yards per carry. Even with the emergence of Tony Pollard, Zeke is still getting 71.6% of the offensive snaps.
Minnesota is allowing 128 rushing yards per game which ranks 26th in the league. Elliott has five rushing touchdowns this season and he ranks 5th in the league in red zone touches with 28. When the Cowboys get close to the goal line, they tend to feed Zeke.
The health of quarterback Dak Prescott could greatly affect the usage of Zeke in this game. He will most likely be relied on for 20+ carries and his effectiveness will be key. If Dak cannot go, Cooper Rush will start the game and we will see many runs and short passes to help Rush get into a groove.
Dallas Cowboys: 2. CeeDee Lamb vs. Vikings Cornerbacks
CeeDee Lamb is the Cowboys’ leader in receptions and yards and should be very active on Sunday night. The Vikings’ top cornerback, Patrick Peterson, will miss the game due to an injured hamstring. So the Vikings will go with Mackensie Alexander and Bashaud Breeland at cornerback.
Neither of these corners should be considered lockdown players so Lamb and Cooper should be able to eat. CeeDee should be used in the screen game and be given ample opportunity to create yards after the catch, where he is at his best.
Obviously, as previously stated the health of quarterback Dak Prescott will be a huge factor in this game. With Prescott on the field, Lamb should see close to 10 targets and should be in line for a few explosive plays. Without Dak, however, it will be interesting to see who Cooper Rush’s go-to receiver will be.
Dallas Cowboys: 3. Dalton Schultz vs. Eric Kendricks
Schultz has quietly turned into one of Dak Prescott’s favorite targets over the past few weeks. Schultz has seen 29 targets the last four weeks and his receiving production has been quite the boost for Dallas.
But, awaiting Schultz this week is one of the best coverage linebackers in Eric Kendricks. Since 2019, Kendricks is the top-ranked linebacker in coverage according to PFF. It remains unclear how much Kendricks will be man-to-man on Schultz but with the recent breakout of Schultz, it is a good bet we will see this matchup quite a bit.
Schultz has at least five catches in four straight games and he should be once again used as a safety blanket for Prescott. Schultz is averaging 11.6 yards per reception, ranking 14th amongst tight ends.
Dallas Cowboys: 4. Trevon Diggs vs. Justin Jefferson
I know, I know this incredible run of games with a Diggs interception has to come to an end at some point. But does it have to be this week? Diggs and the Cowboys defense are facing a familiar foe in Kirk Cousins who they have played each of the last two seasons.
Obviously, a Diggs interception of Cousins would be awesome but the matchup I am more interested in is a battle between two second-year players in Diggs and Justin Jefferson. Jefferson is having another very good season with 40 receptions for 545 yards and three touchdowns. Also, he has a very respectable PFF grade of 82.6.
Being able to slow down Jefferson should be a focal point of the Dallas secondary. Although, I would not expect Diggs to shadow Jefferson because Minnesota also has Adam Thielen another Pro Bowl-caliber receiver. This should be a great matchup on Halloween night and hopefully, the streak will live on with Diggs making it eight straight games with an interception.