Two Things To Look for if the Cowboys Are Going To Beat the Vikings

Chad HensleyCorrespondent IJanuary 12, 2010

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 13:  Cornerback Orlando Scandrick #32 of the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium on December 13, 2009 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys have been rolling, but their season will come to an abrupt end if they don't take care of business against the Minnesota Vikings in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs this weekend.

Everyone knows that the defense must stop Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and get pressure on quarterback, Brett Favre

I don't disagree that both are extremely important, but it is almost like saying "The Cowboys MUST score more points that the Vikings in order to win."

Here are a couple not-so-apparent things to look for this weekend to gauge how the game is going.


Do you see the backs of Orlando Scandrick's and Bobby Carpenter's jerseys a lot?

The Vikings have the same types of explosion on offense that the Philadelphia Eagles have—only the Vikings are much better.

With cornerbacks Mike Jenkins and Terrence Newman playing lights out over the past few weeks, the Vikings will hope to find favorable match-ups with the nickle back Scandrick and the linebacker Carpenter.

Although Scandrick has played somewhat better the second half of the season, he is easily the weak link in the nickle defense. 

Carpenter hasn't covered anyone ever, so Vikings tight Visanthe Shiancoe will have a huge day unless the Cowboys roll safety Gerald Sensabaugh over to help out.

If a receiver is open, Favre will find them.

But if Scandrick and Carpenter can keep the receivers in front of them, as well as limit running back Chester Taylor's yards receiving out the backfield, the Cowboys should continue their dominance on defense.

If you see the backs of their jerseys frequently, it is going to be a long day as the Vikings will sustain drives and keep the ball for long periods of time.


Does the Cowboys offense start hot? Because the second half has been dismal for weeks.

Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett has done a great job in the last few weeks—in the first half.

Beginning with the New Orleans Saints game, the Cowboys have scored 17, 14, 17 and 27 in the first half of the last four games.

In the second half of those games, the Cowboys have scored seven, three, seven and seven. That's an average of six points (You know it's bad when the writer has to type out numbers).

One could argue that the Cowboys get up early and then back off in the second half, wanting to use as much of the clock as possible.

Based on past performance, I would say the opposing teams are making adjustments on defense, and Garrett doesn't counter-adjust. 

If the Cowboys don't get up early, and the game is close in the fourth quarter, I wouldn't like the their chances with Favre at the helm for the Vikings, especially on the road at the Metrodome.   

But if the Cowboys can take care of these two things, they should come out of Minneapolis with a victory.