The Vikings and Cowboys are two very similar teams when comparing the rankings, both faring well in a lot of categories. The Vikings are at the Metrodome for the last time this season and looking to finish the season as the only team to be undefeated at home.
Win or lose today, the Vikings know that today's divisional playoff game with the Dallas Cowboys
will be their final home game of the season. Entering the playoffs, only two teams didn't lose a game at home – the Vikings and the New England Patriots. The Patriots lost in the wild card round, leaving Minnesota as the only team in the NFL to be perfect at home.
Whether coincidence or not, the home fans have never seen Brett Favre
lose in a Vikings jersey and confidence is sure to be high. While the Cowboys pose as formidable a challenge as the Vikings have faced this season, the Metrodome is sure to be noisy and near-deafening come game time.
After a few years of home-field advantage and bye weeks serving as something of a curse to some teams, both of the No. 1 seeds advanced to their respective conference championships with resounding wins Saturday. Today it is the turn for the Vikings and San Diego Chargers to see if resting a week was as big an advantage as they believed it to be. Will they follow suit? Check back in later today.
VIKINGS-COWBOYS BY THE NUMBERS
Both teams finished in the top 10 in both offense and defense this season. The Vikings ranked 5th in offense (13th rushing, 8th passing) and 6th in defense (2nd rushing, 19th passing). The Cowboys finished 2nd in offense (7th rushing, 6th passing) and 9th in defense (4th rushing, 20th passing).
The Vikings offense was first in the league in interception percentage per pass play. The Cowboys were third.
The Vikings were fifth in the league offensively in third-down conversions, making good on 100 of 223 chances (44.8 percent). The Cowboys were 14th, making good on 82 of 202 third downs (40.6 percent). The league average was 38.6 percent.
Defensively, the Vikings finished 3rd in third-down defense, allowing opponents to convert on just 34.5 percent of chances (69 of 200). Dallas was 5th defensively, allowing opponents to convert on 70 of 200 third downs (35 percent).
Ryan Longwell finished second in the league in field goal percentage, making 26 of 28 field goals. The Cowboys were 30th – Nick Folk and Shaun Suisham combined to miss 11 of 31 field goal attempts.
On the flip side, kickers playing against the Cowboys were the worst in the league, making just 18 of 26 field goal attempts, with two of those being blocked.
Neither team has been ball-hawkish defensively. The Vikings defense was 27th in the league in interception percentage, picking off just 11 of 535 passes. However, the Cowboys were worse at 28th place, intercepting just 11 of 572 passes.
The Vikings led the NFL with 48 sacks on defense.
The Vikings finished tied for eighth in giveaway-takeaway ratio at plus-six (18 giveaways, 24 takeaways). The Cowboys tied for 13th place at plus-two (21 takeaways, 19 giveaways).
The Vikings were one of five teams that had more fumble recoveries on defense than interceptions. What makes that interesting is the four other teams that shared that distinction – Chicago (7-9), Oakland (5-11), St. Louis (1-15) and Detroit (2-14).
The Vikings averaged 379.6 yards of offense a game this season (259.8 passing, 119.9 rushing). Dallas averaged 399.4 yards a game (267.9 passing, 131.4 rushing).
Defensively, the Vikings allowed 305.5 yards a game (218.4 passing, 87.1 rushing). The Cowboys allowed 315.9 yards a game (225.4 passing, 90.5 rushing).
The Vikings offense is rated third in the league in the red zone, scoring touchdowns on 43 of 69 chances (62.3 percent). The Cowboys were 14th, scoring touchdowns on 26 of 50 chances (53 percent).
The Vikings' 43 red zone touchdowns led the NFL and their number of chances (69) trailed only New Orleans (71).
The Vikings defense was seventh in red zone efficiency, allowing just 18 touchdowns on 40 opportunities (45 percent). The Cowboys were 23rd, allowing 18 touchdowns in 32 chances (56.3 percent).
Both defenses didn't allow opponents to get in the red zone often. Dallas' 32 defensive red zone trips were the least of any team in the league and the Vikings were tied for fourth with 40.
The Vikings finished second in the league in average starting position following a kickoff at the 31.2-yard line – almost five yards better than the league average (26.4-yard line). Dallas finished 27th with an average start position of the 24.7 yard line.
Both passers routinely lit up the yardage leader boards this year. Tony Romo had eight 300-yard passing games, while Brett Favre had six.
The Vikings allowed only two 300-yard passers and Dallas allowed just one.
Dallas had receivers top 100 yards nine times this year – Miles Austin five times, Jason Witten twice and Patrick Crayton and Roy Williams once each. The Vikings had five 100-yard receiving games – four from Sidney Rice and one from Percy Harvin.
The Vikings allowed six 100-yard receivers this year, while Dallas allowed four.
Don't expect to see a 100-yard rusher today. Adrian Peterson had just three 100-yard games all season and the Cowboys had just one (Marion Barber) during the regular season. Felix Jones did it last week in Dallas' playoff opener. Even more pronounced is that Dallas didn't allow a 100-yard rusher all season and the Vikings have allowed just one in the last two-and-a-half years.
Favre finished near the top in nearly every statistical category. He was eighth in attempts (531), tied for fourth in completions (363), third in completion percentage (68.4), ninth in yards (4,202), eighth in average gain (7.91), tied for second in touchdowns (33), second in touchdown percentage (6.2), tied for second in interceptions (7), second in interception percentage (1.3) and second in passer rating (107.2).
Romo didn't do too shabby himself. He was fifth in attempts (550), seventh in completions (347), third in yards (4,483), sixth in average gain (8.15), tied for 10th in touchdowns (26), tied for sixth in interceptions (9), third in interception percentage (1.6) and eighth in passer rating (97.6).
Favre was fourth in the league in fourth-quarter passer rating (111.2). Romo wasn't far behind in sixth place (103.4).
Favre was seventh in the league in third-down passer rating (94.4). Romo was a disappointing 18th with a passer rating of 81.4.
Peterson finished fifth in the league in rushing with 1,383 yards, but was 33 yards away from second place. Barber led the Cowboys with 932 rushing yards – good for 17th place among running backs. Felix Jones was 30th with 685 yards.
The Vikings had four players in the top 50 in receptions – Rice (tied for 12th, 73 catches), Percy Harvin (tied for 39th, 60), Visanthe Shiancoe (46th, 56), Bernard Berrian (tied for 47th, 55).
The Cowboys had only two players with more than 40 catches, but both were high on the list – Witten was ninth with 94 catches and Austin was 15th with 81.
Austin and Rice finished near the top in receiving yardage, Austin finishing third with 1,320 yards and Rice finishing fourth with 1,332 yards. Witten was 21st with 1,030 yards.
Both teams had players high on the leader boards in third-down receptions. Chester Taylor tied for sixth with 26, Harvin and Witten tied for 11th with 24, Austin tied for 21st with 21 and Rice tied for 24th with 20.
Peterson led the league in scoring among non-kickers with 108 points (18 touchdowns). Austin and Shiancoe tied for 14th with 66 points (11 TDs each) and Harvin tied for 31st with 48 points (eight TDs).
Longwell finished third in scoring among kickers with 132 points.
Peterson finished third in the league in yards from scrimmage with 1,839 (1,383 rushing, 436 receiving). Austin finished 18th with 1,318 (1,320 receiving, minus-2 rushing) and Rice was right behind him in 19th place with 1,312 yards (all receiving).
Harvin finished fourth in the league in kickoff return average with a 27.5-yard average.
Jared Allen finished second in the league in sacks with 14.5. DeMarcus Ware of the Cowboys tied for 11th with 11 sacks, while Ray Edwards tied for 18th with 8.5 sacks.
Allen and Chad Greenway both tied for third in defensive fumble recoveries with three. Dallas defensive tackle Jay Ratliff tied for the league lead with four fumble recoveries.
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.