By Fanspeak Contributing writer Geoff Nelowet
The Dallas Cowboys will continue their late-season success
The Dallas Cowboys have now won four straight games including a 34-14 romping of the division rival Philadelphia Eagles. That thrashing of the eagles was also the Cowboys’ first playoff victory with Tony Romo as quarterback, and it was the team’s first playoff victory since 1996. The Cowboys, though, can not give even most of the credit to Romo, as their defense has played an integral role in the team’s overall success over the past few weeks.
The Cowboys find themselves in the playoffs mainly because of their defensive play. Over the last four weeks, the unit has not allowed more than 17 points, and three of the games they have gone up against two of the best offenses in football – the New Orleans Saints and the Eagles twice. For this reason, the Cowboys should be considered the favorite against the virtually untested Minnesota Vikings.
The 12-4 Vikings enjoyed a successful regular season with Brett Favre in command, but they had a notably soft schedule. Their resume is sparse, as their only impressive wins – or wins against teams with winning records – came against Green Bay twice, Baltimore and Cincinnati. All three were low playoff seeds, and only Baltimore is still alive this post-season. In short, the Vikings have much to prove even after notching 12 victories.
Both teams are of the same mold: They have tough, talented defenses (Minnesota’s D ranked 6th overall) and quarterbacks that continually walk a narrow line between brilliance and implosion. The Cowboys and Vikings can expect consistently solid play from their defenses, but predicting the unpredictable play of Favre and Romo can be enigmatic. Both are aggressive gunslingers that can easily decide the game with their fantastic or horrific play.
Favre and the Vikings have had an ideal season, but they have stumbled as of late. At this moment, the Cowboys are a superior team, and both Romo and their defense have played at a consistently high level. The Cowboys are the hottest team in the NFL right now (aside from maybe the Chargers), and they will hand Favre and the Vikings a disappointing early exit from the playoffs. Final score: Dallas 30 Minnesota 20