Running back Julius Jones of the Dallas Cowboys runs for a 77-yard touchdown past Josh Bullocks of the New Orleans Saints.
I’m not doing our Friday picks post until tomorrow, but you can feel the ground swelling, people. There are a LOT of people out there who are jumping onto the bandwagon of your beloved Dallas Cowboys. And I don’t mean that they suddenly are rooting for them. I mean that there is an ever-growing contingent of the general public that now believes the Cowboys - the hottest team in the NFC – are heading to the Super Bowl. Take a look at this report from Online Sports Handicappers:
Handicappers are all over the Dallas Cowboys to beat out the Vikings. According to our NFL betting trends tracker 87 percent of the betting public is taking the Dallas Cowboys as the NFL Playoff picks favorite to win straight-up this Sunday.
Holy smokes. Eighty-seven percent. I listened to Bill Simmons’ podcast the other day, and during the thirty seconds of his podcast where he wasn’t complaining about the Patriots, none of the experts Simmons brought in liked the Vikings to win. Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders went out of his way to question his own statistical projections that favored the Vikings to predict the Cowboys would win and advance to the NFC title game.
Now, I am not a believer in karma or superstition. There is no law on the books stating that fate is destined against 87 percent of the general public. Everyone could be seeing what is obvious – that the Cowboys are peaking at the right time, while the Vikings have o-line and pass defense issues – and making a correct assumption that Dallas is superior and will win.
Regardless, football law states that the more people support one team on the road in a playoff game, the more likely it is that the team everyone adores will be blindsided.
The Cowboys are playing better than the Vikings have all the look of a Super Bowl contender right now, particularly on defense. But it’s no fait accompli that they’re just going to waltz in to Minneapolis and crush the Vikings. Remember: Minnesota was one of the league’s three best teams for three quarters of the season. They have one of the league’s best defensive lines. Their QB is playing in a comfy dome and is coming off of arguably his finest season as a professional, age be damned. They have the league’s best running back. They have a brilliant run defense. Simmons thought the Minnesota crowd would be weak because it was for the playoffs last year, but he failed to mention that last year’s Vikings were led by Tarvaris Jackson, and this year’s outfit is led by someone with juuust a bit more credibility.
These guys aren’t pushovers. They’re playing at home, and surely they know many aren’t picking them to win this game, despite being favored by Vegas. So beware the Cowboys bandwagon effect, people. Don’t get sucked into being overconfident. This is going to be a whale of a game, and no matter what anyone says, the outcome is still a 50/50 proposition.