5 questions for the Vikings vs. the Cowboys

The Vikings will look to continue their playoff push on Sunday.
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Justin Jefferson

The Minnesota Vikings will play must-win games for the rest of the season. As their unlikely playoff push continues against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, there are plenty of questions that will need to be answered now and for the rest of the season.

Will the Vikings miss Pat Elflein?

The Vikings received some bad news on Friday as Ezra Cleveland was listed as "out" on the team's final injury report. The rookie has been a shot in the arm for an offensive line that has struggled this season and the Vikings have gone 3-1 since Cleveland took over for Dru Samia in Week 6.

With Cleveland out, the Vikings will have to turn to their third starter at right guard this season. Brett Jones will get the nod, but it's curious to wonder if the Vikings should have held onto their Week 1 starter in Elflein.

Elflein was brutal in his lone start of the season, allowing five pressures against the Packers. However, it's fair to question whether the Vikings could have used him as a depth piece for the remainder of the season. If Jones struggles, that thought will only get louder if Cleveland doesn't have a quick recovery.

Can Dalvin Cook stay hot?

A look at the box score would say Cook had a disappointing game against the Bears. Cook was the catalyst for most of what the Vikings did on offense, however, and once Akiem Hicks suffered a hamstring injury, Cook found more room to run.

While the Bears presented a stiff test up front, the Cowboys are on the opposite end of the spectrum. Dallas has allowed the second-most rushing yards this season and has coughed up five yards per carry, also second-most in the NFL.

Prior to last week's performance, Cook was on fire, collecting 478 total yards and six touchdowns in victories over Green Bay and Detroit. We know Cook is going to get the ball plenty but it's a question how much damage he can do against an overmatched Cowboys defense.

Will Jefferson "Moss" the Cowboys?

22 years ago, the Cowboys passed on Randy Moss in the NFL Draft. Several months later, Moss took out his frustrations on the Dallas secondary posting 163 yards and three touchdowns in a Thanksgiving victory. While the Vikings aren't playing the Cowboys on turkey day, Jefferson will have the same revenge factor on Sunday.

Jefferson was the fourth receiver taken in this year's draft and the Cowboys were one of the teams that passed on him, selecting CeeDee Lamb 18th overall.

There's a chance the Vikings won't have to throw as much as they did a week ago, but Dallas has allowed 21 touchdown passes on the season, the second-most in football. With fellow rookie Trevon Diggs out with a broken foot, Jefferson could have a monster game even if he doesn't see the 10 targets he got against the Bears.

Can the Vikings shut down the Cowboys' passing attack?

The Cowboys' offense hasn't been as advertised this season and a lot of that has to do with the injury to Dak Prescott. Even with Prescott sidelined, the Cowboys have plenty of ways to hurt the Vikings through the air.

Amari Cooper took Mike Hughes' soul on national television last season while Michael Gallup is a deep threat that can stretch the field. But the most interesting of the three is Lamb, who will matchup with Jeff Gladney.

The two Big 12 alums will renew acquaintances in the slot on Sunday where Lamb ranks second in the NFL with 557 yards and Gladney has allowed 0.73 yards per coverage snap since Week 7 (7th among qualifying corners). Even if Dalton struggles, Lamb vs. Gladney could be the matchup that decides if the Vikings defense keeps rolling.

Will the Vikings' unlikely playoff push continue?

When the Vikings were sitting at 1-5 one month ago, nobody thought they had a chance to make a push toward the playoffs. Instead, the Vikings have won three straight games and could find themselves one game behind Arizona for the final playoff spot with a win.

A stretch of winnable games kicks off on Sunday as Dallas has limped to a 2-7 record. If the Vikings can defeat the Cowboys, they could also pick up wins against Carolina and Jacksonville, which would put them in the middle of the NFC playoff picture.

But this only happens if the Vikings can defeat the Cowboys on Sunday. If they can get Cook going, stay hot on defense and fix their special teams, they should have a good chance of picking up their fourth straight victory.

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