Today I will break down each team’s wide receivers and defensive backs. Both teams have game changers in the passing game with Tony Romo and Brett Favre tossing the pigskin to them. Away we go…
The Minnesota Vikings had one of the most explosive passing attacks this season with Sidney Rice, Bernard Berrian, and Rookie of the Year Percy Harvin as their top 3 wide outs. Brett Favre came out of retirement a second time so he could play catch with this good trio of receivers. Sidney Rice really blossomed this year and made a name for himself. Rookie Percy Harvin did not disappoint this year being able to stretch the field as a wide out. He also provided a good punch on special teams being a dual threat as a punt returner. Rice and Berrian have good size and speed while Harvin is a smaller but faster weapon. Besides these three they do not have much depth at the position. Greg Lewis, Jaymar Johnson, and Darius Reynaud are the 4th-6th wide outs on the roster. Not exactly household names.
The Dallas Cowboys counter with a formidable secondary. Veteran cornerback Terrence Newman and 2nd year man Mike Jenkins proved to be a very good duo as starters especially from the 5th game onwards. Nickel corner Orlando Scandrick had some growing pains playing the slot this year, but he recently picked up his play during the Cowboys defensive dominance the past 4 games. All three corners are good tacklers and are also very good playing man-to-man as well as zone coverage. Having DeMarcus Ware, Jay Ratliff, and Anthony Spencer pass rushing opposing QBs so well it helps out the secondary immensely. Free Safety Ken Hamlin is excellent aligning the defense up and making proper adjustments. It will be interesting to see how the Cowboys will match up with the Vikings receivers. My bet is Jenkins will play the bigger Rice and Newman will blanket Berrian. The x- factor will be if Scandrick can continue his solid play against the speedy Harvin. Strong Safety Gerald Sensabaugh has been a huge improvement over former SS Roy Williams. Sensabaugh was signed in the offseason from the Jacksonville Jaguars and has proved himself to be very good in covering wide receivers and tight ends. Alan Ball, the 4th cornerback has really come on this season too providing excellent depth as a defensive back and special teamer along with Pat Watkins.
The Vikings secondary is a solid group but not a spectacular one. Antoine Winfield is their best cover guy but is not 100% healthy. He will have some difficulty covering. Tyrell Johnson and Madieu Williams are the starting safeties. Karl Paymah and Benny Sapp are young corners who still have a lot of learning to do in the NFL. Cowboys’ wide outs Miles Austin, Roy Williams, Patrick Crayton, Sam Hurd, and Kevin Ogletree should have success against the Vikings secondary. I expect Minnesota to play a cover 2 zone coverage scheme to try and limit the Cowboys’ big plays. Romo will be able to read the coverage fast and get the ball to the open man early and often.
Bottom line is the Cowboys have a slight edge in the secondary and the both wide receivers are just about even.
Special teams will play a role in this game, but I don’t foresee any big punt or kickoff returns. Cowboys’ kickoff specialist Buehler will boom kickoffs into endzone resulting in touchbacks effectively limiting Harvin’s return ability. The Vikings do have an edge between field goal kickers with Ryan Longwell compared to Shaun Suisham.
My prediction is the Cowboys will start off strong and build a 14-point lead and Favre’s luck will run out again. Final score will be Cowboys 31 Vikings 17.