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A Look Ahead To The Cowboys vs. Vikings

It has only been two years since the Dallas Cowboys last made an appearance in the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs.  Many of us remember that heartbreaking loss to the Giants at Texas Stadium, and the hopes that rested upon a 13-3 season being dashed with a last minute interception that sealed the game for the Giants.

Things have changed since that game.  Sure, the head coach and offensive co-ordinator are the same, so is the quarterback and many of the players, but this team is different.  This team has a focus about them.  There have been no trips to Mexico, no high profile, blonde girlfriends, and no in-house fighting in the locker room.  This team is ready to play, and play they will have to on Sunday at 1 pm EST (FOX).  This Cowboys team has yet to face itself, or at least a team very similar to itself.  This Sunday the Cowboys might as well be looking in a mirror, because they are playing a team with a similar build and a similar mindset in the Minnesota Vikings.

The Cowboys will clash with the Vikings for the second time this year.  The first came in the final game of the pre-season, Dallas winning 35-31.  But nobody even cares about that game, as well they shouldn’t.  This game has everything on the line, for both teams.

The Outlook:

The Cowboys have entered the last few weeks with a “first things first” attitude.  Those firsts are:  Offense: Run the ball effectively, Defense: Stop the run.  They have done both of those things well the last 6 weeks.  This week they will play a Vikings team with that same motto.  Both teams are going to look to establish their dominant running attacks early.  Minnesota averaged only 119.9 yards/game on the ground this year, ranking 13th in the league.  Do not be fooled though, they have a great ground game led by RB Adrian Peterson, and anchored by their powerful offensive line.  The Cowboys averaged 90.5 y/game against the run ranking them fourth in the NFL heading into the playoffs.

On the flip side Dallas averaged 131.4 y/g rushing the ball.  The Cowboys rush with a 3-headed attack featuring Barber, Jones, and Choice. The Vikings gave up only 87.1 y/g (2nd), largely due to the Williams duo anchoring their defensive line and a swarming group of young linebackers.

Make no mistake about it, this game is not going to be decided by Tony Romo or Brett Favre, Miles Austin or Sidney Rice; this game will be decided in the trenches.  Which team’s big men can control the line of scrimmage and establish their will on the other.  This game lies with the big-boys.

If either team is going to win they have to establish their “firsts”.  While the crowd noise will have an effect on the game, the real battle will be fought in the trenches.

Adding some intrigue, Brett Favre confirmed that this could be his last playoff game, hinting at a possible retirement at the end of the season.  You cannot say enough about his contributions to the Vikings this year.  He has been the difference for a team with a lot of great talent.

I believe this to be the best game this weekend and the most intriguing matchup.  I’m going to go out on a limb and predict an upset.  Dallas 31-28.

Enjoy the game everyone!

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