As the Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys are set to renew their rich postseason rivalry this Sunday, the Vikings are fortunate to be the host team. This will be the seventh postseason meeting of the two teams, and the first since 1999.
The Vikings are fortunate to have finished the regular season with the better overall record of 12-4 - the Cowboys ending the regular season 11-5 - because home field has meant everything to the Vikings this year.
At home, the Vikings were the good and well-respected Dr. Henry Jekyll. They performed the way most expected them to perform heading into the season as one of the conference favorites. Winning all eight contests, the Vikings outscored their opponents by the very impressive average score of 32-15. The Vikings featured an explosive offense coupled with, at times, a simply dominant shut-down defense.
On the road, however, the Vikings were the evil and unrecognizable Mr. Edward Hyde. Far from the powerhouse their pro-bowl-laden roster suggested they should be, the Vikings were only 4-4 away from the Metrodome. In fact, the Vikings barely outscored their opposition on the road by an average score of 26-23. Take away their only road rout, the 38-10 thrashing of the hapless - and at the time winless - St. Louis Rams, and the Vikings were actually outscored on the road by an average score of 25-24.
At home, the Vikings were a confident and very well-balanced machine, who looked every bit like a possible super bowl champion. Away from home, those very same players were a mistake-ridden squad, that had trouble blocking, tackling, and defending against the pass.
Even in the midst of the late season "swoon" - losing three of the last five - the two home games were 30-10, and 44-7 wins over the playoff-participating Cincinnati Bengals, and the New York Giants, respectively. For some reason, the awful road performances in December, had seemingly no carry-over affect at home.
With the red-hot Cowboys coming to town, if the Vikings are going to come out on top, they will need to remain the Metrodome's Dr. Jekyll. Earlier in the season, when the Cowboys stood at 8-5, a playoff berth itelf, was very much in question. Four straight victories later, a win in New Orleans giving the Saints their first loss of the year, back-to-back shut outs to end the regular season, and a playoff rout, the Cowboys are peaking at exactly the right time.
Were this playoff game to take place in Dallas, the prospects for a Viking victory would not be favorable. However, being in Minnesota, this collision - that some may feel is the de facto NFC Championship - should be a thriller waiting to happen.
Oh by the way, the Vikings are perfectly consistent in their playoff lives against the Cowboys, one win, two losses on the road, and one win, two losses at home. With the last meeting being the home victory, Dr. Jekyll could make it two in a row, but if Mr. Hyde shows up instead, watch out.
Editor's note - Vikings War Cry is pleased to be welcomed into its new home, Real Clear Sports.