After pulling off an impressive come-from-behind victory over the Buffalo Bills in Week 10, the Minnesota Vikings were hit with a large dose of reality in Week 11 by the Dallas Cowboys. The Vikings were blown out 40-3 on their home field as the Cowboys picked up their largest margin of victory in a road game in franchise history.
In what could be seen as a positive thing, Minnesota won’t have much time to dwell on the loss. They will have a quick turnaround as they play the nightcap of the Thanksgiving Day triple-header against the New England Patriots.
The Patriots will present the Vikings with plenty of obstacles to overcome. The Cowboys’ defense was unrelenting and found plenty of success in slowing down Minnesota’s offense and New England will look to do the same.
A major factor in determining who will come out on top is if the Vikings can protect Kirk Cousins. Like many of his peers, Cousins struggles mightily when facing pressure compared to when he is throwing from a clean pocket.
Establishing the run game with Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison will certainly help take pressure off of Cousins and slow down the Patriots’ pass rush led by Matthew Judon. Judon currently leads the NFL with 13, already a career-high for him.
Slowing down wide receiver Justin Jefferson will assuredly be atop the Patriots’ defensive checklist. Jefferson is on a historic pace this season and New England will do everything it can to slow him down. He offered up a suggestion as well as to how the Vikings can get things going on offense on Thanksgiving.
That is certainly a good place to start when it comes to their passing game. If Cousins can get the ball out of his hands quickly, the Patriots’ pass rush shouldn’t have enough time to get into the backfield to cause havoc.
Mixing in more quick hitters will also aid in slowing down the Patriots’ defense as they can turn into big plays should a player be out of position or a defensive back be beaten in man coverage. Minnesota should use them as often as possible as the longer that Cousins is forced to hold onto the ball, the uglier the results could be for the offense.
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