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2010 NFC Divisional Round Lines: Cowboys Vikings Free Predictions

NFL Divisional Playoff Betting – Cowboys vs Vikings Preview & Pick

Here come the Cowboys.

Since the Troy Aikman era ended, the Cowboys punished their fans with 13 seasons of losing. Then last week happened. America’s Team won its first playoff game since 1996 and seems to be peaking just in time for its clash with the rested-but-possibly-rusty Minnesota Vikings. Given how well Dallas is playing right now, it almost feels like we shouldn’t call them a true underdog – even on the road.

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Dallas Cowboys @ Minnesota Vikings

Sunday, January 17, 1:00 p.m. ET
Line: Vikings -2.5

Before we declare the Cowboys Super Bowl XLIV champs, let’s remember something: the Vikings are an excellent football team and may have more talent on both sides of the ball than any other NFL team. Their second-ranked run defense is formidable as ever; even though Felix Jones looked like a Pro Bowler running through the Eagles last week, he doesn’t have much of a chance against Minnesota’s Williams Wall – Pat and Kevin, who swallow up runners week after week. They’re joined by NFC sack leader Jared Allen in a fearsome front seven.

They rely on some guy named Adrian Peterson in the backfield. Ever heard of him? AP wasn’t flashy this year, tallying just two 100-yard games, but he topped 80 rushing yards 10 times and ran for a quiet 18 touchdowns. He’s still a horse to bring down .

Last but not least is Brett Favre. Some detractors will tell you he mimicked his New York Jets season and tanked down the stretch. That’s just not true. He stumbled briefly but ended the year with two straight 300-yard games, no picks and six touchdown passes. He has a talented, versatile receiving corps around him, featuring Offensive Rookie of the Year Percy Harvin and breakout star Sidney Rice. Against a so-so Cowboy secondary, Favre is dangerous.

But the Vikings do have some questions to answer. More specifically, Peterson does. Despite his immense talent, he hasn’t yet shown he’s a “big-game” back. His ball-security issues are well-documented and he averaged less than four yards a carry in six of his last seven games.

If Peterson can’t move the chains, the Cowboys can key on Favre and limit Minny’s offensive opportunity. That’s a serious problem since the Cowboys seem poised to score plenty of points.

Tony Romo’s winter hex appears to be over. In his last six weeks, he’s thrown 11 touchdown passes  and two interceptions. He hasn’t fumbled. He’s posted a passer rating over 100 five times. Weather conditions  — or lack thereof – have certainly helped. Four of Romo’s last six games were played indoors. Well, this week at the Metrodome will continue that trend. Against Minnesota’s beatable pass defense, Miles Austin should get open downfield and connect with Romo on some big plays.

We have an extremely tough decision this week since these two teams are so similar. Some bettors will lean Minnesota’s way based solely on home-field advantage. I won’t. The Cowboys aren’t afraid, as they showed when they took down New Orleans at the Louisiana Superdome. Their balanced offense seems unstoppable; their pass rush and run defense are also deadly. I base my pick on momentum and pick football’s hottest team this week.

Gambling Trends:

The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Dallas’s last 5 games
Dallas is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games
Dallas is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Dallas’s last 5 games on the road
Minnesota is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games at home
Minnesota is 5-1 ATS in its last 6 games when playing Dallas
Minnesota is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games when playing Dallas
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Minnesota’s last 5 games at home

Pick: Cowboys +2.5

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Shea Matthews lives and breathes sports. He made the transition from athlete to sports journalist at a young age, writing in TV & national newspapers. He now applies his knowledge to sports betting and handicapping every day, and shares his winning picks with the world.

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