Star Tribune sports covers the Vikings like no other organization. Today we’ll have Ben Goessling, Andrew Krammer, Mark Craig, Chip Scoggins, Sid (let’s see, I have his name here somewhere...Hartman? Yes, Harman) and me in the press box, plus our usual complement of photographers.
Here’s what I’ll be watching for today:
Dalvin Cook has been one of the best players in the NFL. He has touched the ball 113 times from scrimmage in five games. He’s coming off a season-high 27 touches last week against the Giants. He fumbled twice in that game, his first fumbles of the season.
He ranked second in the NFL in rushing entering Sunday’s games.
In his first two seasons, Cook played in 15 of 32 games. He looks stronger and even more fit this year than in his first two seasons, but a lot is asked of him in this offense and he is about to face a strong defensive front.
The Eagles rank first in the NFL, allowing just 63 rushing yards per game. They rank 27th in the NFL in passing yards allowed, at 271.2.
So do the Vikings ride Cook and force-feed their running game, subjecting him to a lot of potential punishment? Or do they use the threat of Cook to run play-action passes and pick on the Eagles’ secondary?
I’d take what’s behind Door #2, but will Mike Zimmer want to ``establish the run’’ and ``win the physical battle?’’
The other factor to consider: After five weeks, we still don’t really know who is who and what is what in this league. Are the Eagles really this dominant against the run, or have they benefited from an easy schedule?
They’ve faced a terrible Jets team, a Falcons team that isn’t great at running the ball and a Washington team that is bad at everything.
I’d look for Cook to get about 20 touches today - enough to make him a big part of the game plan, but not so much that he’ll feel run into the ground.
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