Vikings get Texas-sized challenge with Dallas

The Vikings will be getting the hottest team in football next Sunday when they face Dallas after the Cowboys whipped the Eagles 34-14 Saturday night. Dallas has been dominant lately, especially on defense.

Any drama that there have may have been as to whether the Vikings and Packers could potentially meet for a third team this season got squashed – for the time being anyway. A huge game from the Dallas Cowboys in a 34-14 blowout of the Philadelphia Eagles Saturday night set up a matchup between the Vikings and Cowboys at the Metrodome at noon local time next Sunday.

What should be the most troubling for the players, the coaches and Vikings fans is how the Cowboys have been winning of late. Not only did they end the perfect season for the New Orleans Saints a month ago, they posted back-to-back shutouts against the Redskins and Eagles to close the regular season and dominated Saturday's game on both sides of the ball.

The Dallas defense has been much improved over the last four weeks, allowing just 17 points to the high-powered Saints offense and 14 points total over the last three games. Their back-to-back dismantling of the Eagles has clearly caught the attention of the rest of the league and the Vikings will be hard-pressed to find an answer for a defense that has been an aggressive, dominating one in recent games.

"The matchups do not favor Minnesota in this one at any one place," ESPN analyst Merril Hoge said after the Cowboys game Saturday night. Trent Dilfer, another ESPN analyst called the Cowboys the best team in football.

Considering how well the Cowboys have been playing and the Vikings' familiarity with the Packers and Cardinals from games this year, Minnesota's coaching staff put extra time in during the bye week preparing a game plan for the Cowboys. Knowing a Dallas win would bring them to the Metrodome next week, the logic makes senses. The big question now is what do you do to stop a team that has shown the ability to dominate good teams on both sides of the ball?

Let the countdown to the showdown begin.

SUNDAY NOTES

  • The Cowboys' win Saturday night was their first playoff win since 1996, when they pounded the Vikings 40-15 in a game that wasn't as close as that lopsided score would indicate.

  • Peyton Manning won his fourth Most Valuable Player award Saturday, earning 39½ of the 50 first-place votes. Drew Brees of the Saints was second with 7½ votes. Philip Rivers of San Diego received two votes and Brett Favre got one vote.

  • The Seattle Seahawks will officially announce Pete Carroll as their new head coach either today or Monday, according to multiple reports. Commissioner Roger Goodell said the Seahawks complied with the requirements of the Rooney Rule, which states a team must consider a minority candidate in a head coaching search. The Seahawks interviewed Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier on Saturday.

  • Word out of Buffalo is that the Bills front office was very impressed with Frazier and that he is likely to be a frontrunner to get the job. However, as more playoff teams go by the wayside, other candidates are likely to emerge.

  • Favre is 0-3 lifetime in the playoffs against the Cowboys, with all of those losses coming in three straight seasons (1993-95), when the Cowboys and 49ers ruled the roost in the NFC.

  • When Favre makes the start Sunday, he will become the oldest quarterback to ever start a playoff game in league history.


    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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