Dallas Cowboys (12-5/NFC East)
Minnesota Vikings (12-4/NFC North)
January 17, 2010 - 1:00 PM Eastern
THOUGHTS ON HOW THEY GOT THERE
John Mitchell: I was one of the biggest Cowboys doubters all season long but seeing their convincing wins over the Saints and Eagles late in the season, I hopped on the Cowboys bandwagon. I chose them to beat the Eagles last week for the third time and they did so for their first playoff win since 1996. The Cowboys have gotten hot at the right time, and they are very dangerous.
The Vikings got off to a 10-1 start, but faltered down the stretch going
just 2-3 and showing some glaring weaknesses along the way. They had a bad loss at Carolina where they couldn' t keep Brett Favre upright and then all the drama started about him not wanting to come out of the game and all that. Then Minnesota lost to Chicago the next week at Soldier Field in a failed comeback attempt in overtime and put their #2 seed in serious jeopardy. But the Vikings caught a Giants team that had already packed it in and throttled them 44-7 and got some help from the Cowboys who beat the Eagles and clinched the #2 seed and a home playoff game. All four of the Vikings losses this season were on the road, they have not lost at home.
Tim Anderson: For the 'Boys it was simply the three-peat over the rivaled Eagles. They outscored them 78 to 30 overall including a 34-14 dominant win over them in the Wild Card round. They got passed the Eagles the third time with a steady balance of ... well ... everything. They forced four turnovers, Felix Jones ran for 148, and Tony Romo threw for 244 including 82 to main weapon Miles Austin. The 'Boys look to just be cliquing as a team.
The Vikings started off as one of the best teams in the NFL and they finished the season as one of the better ones. The veteran Brett Favre brought a huge spark to the Metrodome and he has flourished with rookie receiver Sidney Rice and previously unproved Visanthe Shiancoe. As always, there was a solid running game with Adrian Peterson and, also as always, there were some shaky points (i.e. fumbling). The defense was lead by the power of Jared Allen up front. The Vikings are very balanced all around but can be easily torn apart with a good defense.