Do or Die Game for Vikings in TNF Matchup with the Cowboys

The Vikings Thanksgiving day loss to the Detroit Lions was another heartbreaker in a six-week stretch that has been defined by similar endings.  Just when you thought the Vikings might be able to regain momentum following their victory over the Cardinals in week 10, they falter once more.  There is no room left for error for the Vikings at this point in time.

The first opponent for the Vikings in the remaining five-game stretch to save the season will be their toughest.  The Dallas Cowboys are the talk of the NFC and the NFL as a whole, and rightfully so.  Led by rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot, the Cowboys have strung together 10-straight wins, and are the current favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl come February.

The Vikings look to slow down the high-powered offense of the Cowboys and create some momentum of their own as we enter the critical final five weeks of the regular season.

Keep the Cowboys offense off the field

The biggest challenge for the Vikings will be to keep the Cowboys from controlling the football and the game-clock as they have done it better than any team in the league this season.  Having the best offensive line in football blocking for an up and coming superstar in Elliot makes it all possible, and will create an enormous challenge for the Vikings to find a way to stop.

Stopping the Cowboys on offense is only the first step in preventing them from controlling the game.  Perhaps the biggest obstacle for the purple will be sustaining drives on offense in order to chew up game-clock and hopefully put points on the board.  If neither of these tasks are met, the Vikings will get blown out plain and simple.

Take shots down the field

Under Pat Shurmur, the Vikings offense has failed to create any explosive plays on a regular basis, making the short bubble screens and check-down passes the bread and butter that we have come to rely on to move the football.  I understand the reasoning, a statue-like quarterback is being protected by an injury decimated offensive line, but at the end of the day you simply cannot win football games in this way.  The threat of the deep ball has to be present in order for the dink and dunk offensive game-plan to be successful.

If the Vikings are to get any sort of rhythm going on offense, they will need to attempt a deep shot to start the game.  Successful or not, it will plant a seed that the Vikings are not going to be attempting the same monotonous play-calls all game long that have defined the offense under Shurmur.

Score first

If the Vikings want to stay in this game and come out on top they will need to put points on the board first.  I’m not talking about settling for a field goal when I say score first, I’m talking about a hard-fought drive that ends in a Matt Asiata one-yard plunge type of drive that sets the tone for all three phases of Vikings football.

The Cowboys enter Thursday’s game with all of the confidence in the world, while the Vikings confidence has undoubtedly dwindled over the course of their five losses in a six-game stretch.  Scoring first will be a huge confidence booster, and could provide the spark that this team needs to come away with a crucial victory on Thursday Night Football.

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