Vikings-Cowboys game plan

The Cowboys' strength could be the Vikings' defensive weakness, especially being shorthanded at cornerback.Of course, the Vikings have their own receiving weapons, too. Get the view from both camps, along with some of the intriguing matchups to watch.

VIKINGS

The Vikings will be short-handed in the secondary with cornerback Cedric Griffin out for the season and rookie corner Chris Cook still trying to return from a knee injury.

The timing couldn't be worse.

The Cowboys have struggled this season, but they can certainly throw the ball, and Tony Romo has to like the potential matchups here. Dallas is third in the NFL in passing offense, averaging 326.3 yards per game.

The Vikings are sixth in passing defense, but the loss of their biggest corners could make it difficult to keep that ranking.

Minnesota's passing game showed some life in the second half last Monday against the Jets, but Brett Favre and Co. must become more consistent.

Favre and Randy Moss, and Favre and Percy Harvin should provide the Cowboys with plenty of matchup headaches, but some of that will depend on how Favre's arm feels. The tendinitis in his throwing elbow clearly has made delivering the ball an issue at times.

Dallas also must prepare for the Vikings' Adrian Peterson-led rushing attack.

All of this should make life miserable for the Cowboys, assuming the Vikings can get their offense on track.

COWBOYS

First and foremost, the Cowboys need to avoid beating themselves with penalties. Secondly, they need to strike early and get a lead to quiet the raucous Metrodome crowd. That means running the ball and making plays down the field.

Defensively they must contain Adrian Peterson on the ground and limit deep balls to Randy Moss. Look for them to double cover Moss.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH

Vikings C Jon Cooper, who could be making his first career start, vs. Dallas NT Jay Ratliff, who had six sacks last season. This could be a matchup nightmare for the Vikings if John Sullivan remains out because of a calf injury, which appears likely. Ratliff had six sacks last season, and in the Cowboys' 3-4 defensive scheme, he will be nose up on Cooper. Cooper replaced Ryan Cook in the second half of Monday night's game against the Jets after Cook had some issues in what was his first career start at center.

Vikings WR Randy Moss, who caught a touchdown pass in his first game back with Minnesota, vs. Cowboys CBs Terence Newman and Mike Jenkins. Moss and Brett Favre seemed to get more on the same page as Monday night's game progressed, and there is little question that combination will have to be a focus of Dallas' corners in this one. Moss' presence also opens up things underneath for Percy Harvin and TE Visanthe Shiancoe.

Cowboys RT Marc Colombo vs. Vikings LDE Ray Edwards. Edwards victimized Colombo for three sacks last season. Colombo has allowed three sacks in three games played. He missed the opener. He will likely get some help from tights and backs to contain Edwards.

Vikings WR Randy Moss vs. Cowboys CBs Terence Newman and Mike Jenkins. Moss hates the Cowboys. He has held a grudge since they passed on him in the 1998 draft with the eighth overall pick to take Greg Ellis. Moss was drafted 21st by the Vikings. He has terrorized the Cowboys ever since, catching 35 passes for 734 yards and 11 touchdowns in seven career regular season and postseason games – all victories. His average of 21 yards per catch is the most against any team. The Cowboys must give Newman or Jenkins safety help over the top with Moss. He is too big and too fast for one of them to handle him by themselves.


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