So You're Saying There's a Chance

The Vikings are one-quarter of the way through the toughest four-game stretch of their schedule and have walked away from it with a 1-0 record. Next are the Dallas Cowboys, a team that has been the class of the NFC to date this season. To knock them off their perch won't be easy, but the Vikings believe they may have found the formula to neutralize what the Cowboys do so well.

The Vikings knew heading into their current four-game, post-bye stretch that their most brutal part of the season was coming. In a four-game span, the Vikings have to play three 2006 division winners – the Bears, Eagles and Chargers – as well as the last undefeated team in the NFC (the Cowboys, who fell from the ranks of the unbeaten just last week against the Patriots).

Many Vikings critics were speculating that the team could come out of the month-long battle of the heavyweights with four losses, which would have given them a 1-7 record and likely have people talking about Brad Childress being fired. Instead, the Vikings head into Dallas buoyed with confidence following Adrian Peterson's coming-out party in Chicago. The Vikings are suddenly more of an attraction – the game time for Sunday's matchup was shifted from noon local time to 3:15 p.m., which will give more football fans an opportunity to see the game.

The Cowboys remain prohibitive favorites, but there is now a glimmer of hope in the Vikings that, if they can pressure Tony Romo, keep the running game in check and control the clock by trying to run Chester Taylor and Adrian Peterson 20 times apiece, that they can steal another road win.

While that may sound like a lot of things that need to happen, it is. But if the Vikings can find a way to replicate the offensive rushing attack they used to exploit the Bears, the defense will remain fresh the entire game and the Cowboys may be forced to take more chances deep than they might like to. While Romo has been anointed as the next big thing among NFL quarterbacks, the Patriots showed last week that he is still a young quarterback who hasn't had a full year as a NFL starter under his belt. If the Vikings can create similar types of pressure, the Cowboys may revert to the form of forcing passes and making critical mistakes.

While it certainly won't be easy to go into Big D and come out with a win, at least it looks a lot more probable than it did when fans were looking at the schedule during the bye week.

* The Vikings released their final injury report today and listed safety Dwight Smith, linebacker Vinny Ciurciu and fullback Naufahu Tahi as out for Sunday's game. Erasmus James, who had limited participation the last three days with a shoulder injury, is listed as questionable.
* Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, who has been expected to start all week, took part in all of Friday's practice after being limited somewhat Wednesday and Thursday and will start Sunday. He is listed as probable on the injury report.
* For the Cowboys, WR Terry Glenn is listed as out for a seventh straight week, along with cornerback Anthony Henry. Linebacker Oliver Hoyte, who fully participated in the last three days of practice, is listed as doubtful with a neck injury. Cornerback Courtney Brown, who also fully participated in practice, is listed as questionable with a biceps injury and safety Keith Davis (shoulder) is listed as probable. With so many injuries in the secondary, it's little wonder Tom Brady lit the Cowboys up last week.
* The Vikings released running back Wendell Mathis off the practice squad last week, giving him an injury settlement as part of his release.
* The Packers took the first step to bringing Koren Robinson back to the NFL Thursday, releasing offensive tackle Orrin Thompson to make room for K-Rob on the 53-man roster. As part of his return, the Packers get a two-week roster exemption.

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