Sunday Night Football is back and better than ever in Week 8, with the Dallas Cowboys traveling up north to take on the Minnesota Vikings. Both rosters are star-studded and both teams would really like a win to improve their stock come the postseason.
Washington Football Team fans should tune in to NBC this Sunday to watch the game. They just need to make sure they position themselves well enough on the couch to allow easy access to the front door to greet trick-or-treaters on Halloween night.
Obviously, both starting quarterbacks are extremely familiar to WFT fans. Dak Prescott has largely terrorized the NFC East for years and Kirk Cousins used to grace the Burgundy & Gold during his time in D.C. However, there are some other storylines that are worth monitoring this week on SNF.
Here are three things Washington fans should keep an eye on for Cowboys-Vikings:
Is the only way to beat Dallas through the air?
Dallas has been on an absolute tear since losing their opening game vs. Tampa. After winning five straight and improving to an overall record of 5-1, the Cowboys are firmly in control of the NFC East and eager to move to 6-1 this week against the Vikings following their bye.
That one loss against Tampa might just be a template for other teams to try to replicate when they take on the Cowboys. The Buccaneers' game plan revolved solely around the passing game as their leading rusher, Leonard Fournette, only managed 32 yards on the ground over nine carries.
Dallas' pass defense might be the only Achilles heel to be found on that team. They rank 22nd in the NFL in passing yards conceded, 28th in passing yards per attempt and have also managed only 11 sacks on the year which is tied for 30th. Keep an eye on whether or not Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen of the Vikings -- arguably the league's best one-two punch at WR -- exploit Dallas' vulnerable secondary.
When Washington faces Dallas in Week 14, they simply must rely on the passing game. An admirable game plan would be to utilize Terry McLaurin as a decoy over the middle so that Dyami Brown, Adam Humphries and other targets can have some breathing room on deeper routes. If Washington can do that, they might just have a shot at a win.
Trevon Diggs can't keep this pace up...right?
If you follow the NFL closely, you've heard of sophomore Cowboy sensation Trevon Diggs. Matter of fact, you might not be able to escape hearing about the 23-year-old, who leads the league with a whopping seven interceptions in just six games. The next highest man on that list is the Bengals' Logan Wilson, who has four.
Diggs can be spotty at times, though. One minute, you'll see him snag an unreal pick that required a tremendous degree of athleticism and the next minute, you might see him get burned for a 60-yard touchdown. The latter is exactly what Minnesota fans are hoping when Diggs lines up opposite Jefferson, which will likely be his defensive assignment this week on Sunday Night Football.
Pay close attention to how Kirk Cousins navigates Dallas' secondary -- will he target Jefferson less often if Diggs is covering him or will he target him even more so on deeper routes?
For Washington fans, interceptions are nothing new. Taylor Heinicke has thrown seven picks on the season, which is tied for third-most in the league. If Heinicke can buckle down and make smarter decisions in the pocket before WFT's Week 14 matchup vs. Dallas, Diggs might not be so daunting.
How will Minnesota utilize Dalvin Cook?
As mentioned above, Dallas' weak spot lies within their pass defense. Kirk Cousins could be in line for a 50+ pass attempt night this Sunday in an attempt to exploit that area.
However, Minnesota also has one of the most dynamic and explosive running backs in the league with Dalvin Cook. Cook's calling card is his trademark jukes which often leave would-be tacklers in the dust, but he also has a knack for being a tenacious pass-catcher out of the backfield.
Will the Vikings try to use Cook as a blitz-blocker to enable a more high-volume passing game downfield, or will they try to give Cook his fair share of runs and targets to try to wear down Dallas' defensive line?
Antonio Gibson could just play that role for Washington come Week 14. He can catch passes out of the backfield just as well as Cook. J.D. McKissic is also one of the best in the league when it comes to picking up the blitz. Keep an eye on how Minnesota utilizes Cook and whether or not WFT will try to do the same.