NFC wild-card game

December 28, 1996

Time: 4 p.m.

TV/Radio: Chs. 2, 7/WBAL (1090 AM)

Line: Cowboys by 10

Vs. spread: Vikings 9-7; Cowboys 7-9.

Last playoff appearance: Vikings lost 1994 wild-card game to Bears at home, 35-18. Cowboys beat Steelers, 27-17, in Super Bowl XXX.

Playoff record: Vikings 13-18; Cowboys 31-18.

Outlook: Cowboys' stars should be well-rested after standing on sideline for last week's loss to Redskins. This is matchup that fits into what Cowboys like to do, which is run the ball. Vikings have undersized defensive front, which can be pushed around by Cowboys' massive offensive line. Once Dallas establishes the run, it will only be matter of time before QB Troy Aikman gets to work on play-action pass. Look for well-rested Emmitt Smith to try to get into playoff form. Cowboys' defense will do likewise against Vikings QB Brad Johnson.

By the numbers: Cowboys' offensive line allowed fewest sacks in league (19), which came on 506 pass plays. Johnson has thrown nine TDs and three interceptions in last four weeks. Aikman is 10-2 in postseason games. His 68.3 playoff completion percentage is best in NFL history and 104.3 career passer rating is second highest ever. Vikings WRs Jake Reed and Cris Carter are only pair from one team to have at least 1,000 yards receiving in three straight seasons. Vikings have won last three games in Texas Stadium.

Injuries: VIKINGS: Probable: DT Duane Clemons (shoulder), LB Dixon Edwards (knee), RB Leroy Hoard (knee), WR David Palmer (chest).

COWBOYS: Out: DE Charles Haley (back), S Brock Marion (shoulder), TE Jay Novacek (back). Questionable: S Bill Bates (groin), T Mark Tuinei (knee), CB Wendell Davis (knee), QB Wade Wilson (knee). Probable: TE Eric Bjornson (ankles), LB Alan Campos (knee), DT Chad Hennings (ankle), CB Deion Sanders (back), RB Emmitt Smith (ankle-shoulder), DE Tony Tolbert (knee).

Pub Date: 12/28/96

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