COMMENTARY | The Minnesota Vikings travel to face the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday in a game between two teams who have been attracting attention for things other than their play. Minnesota's three-ring quarterback circus and the fate of coach Leslie Frazier are the main topics among the Vikings' faithful, something that tends to happen when a team is 1-6.
The Cowboys have spent a portion of the week defending Dez Bryant and his notorious sideline antics against the Detroit Lions. Lost in the shuffle is the fact that despite being just 4-4, the Cowboys are in first place in the NFC East and can't afford to stumble against a Minnesota team that appears to have packed it in for the season.
Here are five things to watch for when the Vikings visit the Cowboys:
Minnesota secondary vs. Bryant
The Dallas Cowboys are likely to get the ball in Bryant's hands a little bit more this week than they did last week. He should have no trouble getting open against a Minnesota secondary that is a little bit banged up and hasn't been very good when completely healthy.
Peterson has only carried the ball 36 times in the team's last three games, which coincidentally were blowout losses. The Vikings must get Peterson involved early and often against a Dallas team that is allowing 4.4 yards per carry. Peterson, who grew up a Cowboys fan, is returning to his home state and will have a little bit of extra motivation playing in Texas.
Everybody knows that the Vikings tried to deal Allen at the trading deadline on Tuesday. While he may publicly say that he's happy to remain in Minnesota, but there's a big difference between playing for a Super Bowl contender like Seattle and playing for a team that is battling it out for the top pick in the 2014 draft. Allen is known to disappear at times and he may be ripe for pulling off one of his 'Houdini' games in this spot.
The Vikings coaches have come under fire in the past couple of weeks and it isn't just Frazier. Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and defensive coordinator Alan Williams are hearing their share of criticism and calls for their dismissals, as well. Will they change things up at all or be content to go with the same game plans that led the Vikings to their 1-6 start?
Frazier's indecision about naming a starting quarterback can't be giving Josh Freeman or Christian Ponder a lot of confidence. The last thing a quarterback needs to be doing is looking over their shoulder the entire game wondering if an interception or a poor pass is going to see them get pulled from the contest. Just because Ponder may start, it doesn't mean that he will finish the game.
In Dallas, the Vikings face the team that has allowed the most passing yards per game in the NFL and Minnesota has the wide receivers--Greg Jennings, Jerome Simpson and Cordarrelle Patterson--to take advantage of the Cowboys' most glaring weakness. It's a question if the quarterbacks can get them the ball.
Allen Moody is an author and sports bettor living in Nevada. A newspaper sports reporter for 12 years, he has been a fan of the Minnesota Vikings since the 1970s.
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- Dallas Cowboys
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- Adrian Peterson
- Leslie Frazier