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Cowboys at Vikings

Divisional Playoff

1/17/10

We've been making mention of the Cowboys for a few weeks now. Specifically, that they are a Super Bowl team if they play the way they are capable of. They have a championship defense but have come up short most of the year offensively. We first mentioned this before the Saints game, and stated they could win that game if they executed. Well, they won the Saints game and haven't lost since!

The Cowboys are going to have their work cut out for them this weekend though. The Vikings are 8-0 at home, outscoring opponents 32-15 and you can be sure the place is going to be rocking Sunday afternoon.

The playoffs are of course all about finding the two best teams to square off in the Super Bowl. You don't get to this round in the playoffs without talent. There are only 8 teams remaining and after this week, it's down to 4. But success in the playoffs is also often times dependent upon peaking at just the right time. Look at the Giants a couple of years ago. Slow start. Strong finish. We can't even say the Cowboys started slow. They were 6-2 thru 8 games and then 6-3 thru the next 9. They have won consistently all year. They simply could have been even better if they were able to make better use of their yards.

The Cowboys lost a field goal game at home to the Chargers on December 13th, 20-17. They next beat the Saints, Skins and Eagles twice. They shut out the Eagles and Redskins and held the high powered Saints to 17. They completely dominated a good Eagles team two weeks in a row. Meanwhile, the Vikings quietly lost 3 of their last 5 games.

The Vikings have put up some pretty good defensive numbers of their own this season. Both of these teams are good against the run, but over their last 5 games the Vikings gave up more than 100 yards rushing 4 times. Over the Cowboys last 5 games, they gave up no more than 73 yards rushing. 73, 65, 43, 37 and 56. That's the rushing yards the Cowboys have given up in each of their last 5 games. You can't win football games if you can't run the ball. Cowboys opponents can't run the ball.

We have all watched Brett Favre over the last 20 years. Well, ok, some of you may not be old enough to have done that. But I have watched Brett for 20 years. Bottle up his running game and Favre can be counted on to try and win the game by himself. I have seen it time and time again. A leopard never changes his spots. The Viking will not be able to run the ball Sunday. Favre will try to make things happen. He'll force a few balls and in doing so this Cowboys defense will eat him alive.

Yards per point numbers over the last 7 games for each team show the Cowboys still not where they should be offensively with an 18 but on defense their number is a fantastic 23.6. Phenomenal. The Vikings weigh in with a 14 on offense and a 15 defensively, thanks in part to giving up 36 points to the Bears, 26 to the Panthers and 30 to the Cards.

Given the option I would take the better defense in a playoff game every time. I would take the Cowboys defense even if they had no offense to go along with it. But the Cowboys happen to have an offense that could, and I stress could, be among the best in the league. The Cowboys can move the ball on anyone. With their defense constantly putting them in favorable positions, this is a very dangerous team.

The Cowboys pass rush will keep Favre on his bicycle all day long forcing him to rush and make quick decisions. Something a successful running game would be able to keep in check if it were possible to run on the Cowboys. On the other side of the ball, Tony Romo has been hot. He has a passer rating of 104.5 over his last 6 games which includes 11 TD passes and just 2 interceptions.

The feeling here is that the Cowboys are better on both sides of the ball and win this one straight up Sunday afternoon, setting up what we feel will be a rematch with the Saints in the NFC Title game.

We'd recommend playing half your wager on the money line at +115 or better (we see +130) and half buying the game to +3 -125 for a little insurance. Doing so, your lay price will be even money or better

 3* Key Release on the Cowboys broken down as follows

Cowboys +3 -125

Cowboys ML +130

 

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