NFC Divisional Playoffs: Dallas Cowboys vs. Minnesota Vikings Preview and Pick – Point Spread

Dallas Cowboys (12-5 SU, 10-7 ATS) vs. Minnesota Vikings (12-4 SU,
9-6-1 ATS), 1:00 p.m. EST, Sunday, January 17, 2010, Hubert H.
Humphrey Metrodome, Minneapolis, Minn., TV: FOX

by Badger of

Point Spread: Cowboys +2.5/Vikings -2.5
Over/Under: 45.5

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The red-hot Dallas Cowboys take their show on the road to face the
ageless Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings in the friendly confines of the Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minn., when the NFC plays
its second Divisional Playoff game Sunday on the Fox network.

Favre, a fully rested Adrian Peterson and Vikings offensive line, and
an offensive game plan thats been in place for eight days stands
waiting for the Cowboys on Sunday. The huge question is will it be
enough to stop the Cowboys anyway?

The Cowboys are peaking at the right time having now won five
straight, and more importantly quarterback Tony Romo finally got the
playoff monkey off his back with another sound defeat of the
Philadelphia Eagles last weekend in the Wild Card opener, 34-14, so
the Cowboys and Romo are playing at a high level with a ton of
confidence right now.

If the old clich of defense wins championships holds true, then the
Cowboys unit has taken it upon themselves to turn it up allowing just
over a touchdown per game (7.75 ppg) during the five-game streak. The
way the Cowboys defense dismantled Donovan McNabb and the Eagles in
their 14-point, 4-sack, 4-turnover effort last week was enough to
sway opinions to move the Cowboys to the top of the NFC list on some

The heavy presence of Americas Team at the betting window along
with their current hot status is enough for the Cowboys to move the
point spread down a few points more than normal this week, since the
Vikings opened as just the standard 3-point home favorites. The early
money is moving it down too, as most offshore sportsbooks are already
down to Minnesota minus -2.5-points on their boards.

The over/under total opened at 47.5 and has dropped like a rock ever
since. Its currently listed at 45.5 at a majority of the offshore
books, but it is still listed at 46 at a few of the houses in Las
Vegas and also here and there on the Web.

Offensively theres not much the Cowboys cant do right now. Romo has
been great, but when the running game gains 198 yards and 5.6 yards
per carry like it did last week versus the Eagles, his job is a lot

The Cowboys razorback formation with Tashard Choice, as well as their former Razorback himself, Felix Jones (148 yards, TD), could be
the Cowboys answer to keeping the ball out of the hands of the
veteran Favre and the Vikings offense with A.P. on the sideline.

The Vikings got a little redemption in their 44-7 season-ending
victory over the Giants, but the playoffs are here and Favre, who was
brought in specifically for these types of games, will have the
spotlight entirely on him against the surging Cowboys defense.

But the Vikings must rely on Peterson if they hope to get past the
surging Cowboys. Philly didnt mount much of a running attack (only
13 runs) against the Cowboys last week, something that will
definitely change with the workhorse A.P. this week.

If the running game and A.P. are denied, or if the Cowboys get ahead
fast and force the Vikings to be one-dimensional with Favre throwing,
the Cowboys defense has averaged nearly four sacks per game down the
stretch, so the Vikings cant afford to get into that situation.

The Vikings defense stumbled down the stretch and gave up big points
(30 to Arizona, 36 to Chicago) in embarrassing fashion a few times,
but they still have a formidable unit that is still good against the
run (87.1 ypg 2nd).

Recent history between these teams has been lacking, with the last on-field action coming in the form of a, 24-14, Dallas victory in 2007.
The Cowboys also covered that game as 9.5-point favorites.

Otherwise its been all Minnesota, as the Vikings won five in row
prior to that (making them 5-1 SU in last 6 overall), including a
27-10 victory in the 2000 Wild Card playoffs. They also covered in
all five of those games too, including a perfect 3-0 ATS at home as 7-
point, 7-point and 3-point favorites.

Badgers Pick: The Cowboys wont get near 200 yards rushing against
the Williams Wall this week, and therefore the Cowboys wont be
nearly as explosive. But the Vikings are going to have to score to
win, so Im going the opposite direction of the line move and am
taking the over of 45.5. Take the over of 45.5.