Just as they did last weekend to conclude the regular season, the Dallas Cowboys took apart the Philadelphia Eagles at Cowboys Stadium, this time winning by a 34-14 score.
During the Week 17 matchup, Vikings fans were cheering for the Cowboys, as their win – coupled with Minnesota’s defeat of the New York Giants – gave the Vikings a 1st-round bye. Now, Minnesota fans will pack into Mall of America Field next Sunday to cheer against the Cowboys and for their Vikings, as they will be Minnesota’s Divisional Round opponent on Sunday, Jan. 17.
Head coach Brad Childress will address the media live on vikings.com tomorrow (Sunday) at approximately 12:45 p.m. after the team holds its first practice since being given the last week off. The press conference will be posted on-demand by about 2 p.m. if you can’t watch live, but that will in essence kick off vikings.com’s week of coverage of the matchup. vikings.com’s Mike Wobschall will be updating the Blog all week long, and we’ll have various preview articles and videos to get you ready as well.
The Cowboys are arguably the hottest team in the NFL, as they carry a 4-game winning streak into Sunday’s game, with the wins coming at New Orleans – ending the Saints perfect season – at Washington, and then 2 in ‘Bid D’ against the Eagles.
Even though the game’s still over a week away, some key storylines to focus on heading into the matchup are:
– How will the Vikings start the game after having a week off? After their regular season bye, Minnesota came out slow before blowing out Detroit. However, this is the playoffs and they know that a slow start against the Cowboys could regulate in a one-and-done playoff run.
– The last time OT Bryant McKinnie went against an elite DE, Carolina’s Julius Peppers dominated the matchup and sent McKinnie to the bench. Dallas’ DeMarcus Ware may be better than Peppers, so it’s going to be key for McKinnie to play a good game to protect QB Brett Favre’s blindside. Plus, the coaching staff will likely devise some protection schemes to give McKinnie help.
– Minnesota has had trouble against TEs this season, and Dallas’ Jason Witten may be the best in the NFL. Can the Vikings – and particularly the safeties – contain Witten?
–The Cowboys pass defense was 20th in the NFL during the regular season, so if the Vikings can protect Favre, he should be able to hit the likes of Bernard Berrian, Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin and move the ball down the field.
– Conversely, the Cowboys were 4th in the NFL against the run. Adrian Peterson had a solid regular season but didn’t seem as explosive as in his first 2 seasons. Whichever team can run the ball better and keep the other team’s explosive offense off the field will have an edge.
–Cowboys WR Miles Austin is very dynamic and has had a huge year, despite not having great size. Roy Williams is much bigger and may draw Cedric Griffin due to Griffin’s size matching up better with Williams than either Benny Sapp or Antoine Winfield. If Winfield is healthy, look for him to lock horns with Austin for much of the day.
And will all that being said, turnovers and big plays will likely decide the game.
Make sure to stay with vikings.com all week for complete coverage and exclusive access not found anywhere else heading into Sunday’s game.
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