Pushoff 2010: The Williams Wall

We’re less than 24 hours away from Sunday’s divisional playoff game at the Metrodome. If you’re late to the party, you can catch up on all of our “Pushoff 2010” coverage simply by clicking here. I wanted to throw one final nugget your way before you go to bed dreaming of this Dallas-Minnesota matchup.

Surely you recall our Williams Wall discussion this summer. The NFL suspensions of Minnesota defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams still haven’t been resolved yet, so they’re free to play throughout the Vikings’ playoff run.

The Vikings limited Pat Williams’ playing time earlier this season, and he’s now playing with a brace on his arm because of an elbow injury. Minnesota’s run defense “slipped” to the No. 2 overall slot in the NFL this season, one behind Green Bay, but the Williams Wall still ensured they led the NFL in rush defense up the middle.

Opponents tested the middle of the Vikings’ defense this season 160 times this season, gaining 481 yards. Both figures were the lowest among NFL teams this season, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Why such a long-winded statement of fact?

The Cowboys enter this game with the NFL’s best average (4.5 yards) in rushes up the middle. As we discussed earlier Saturday when examining the Percy Harvin-David Buehler matchup, it’s a strength-on-strength issue that should be fascinating to watch.

Can the Cowboys make hay against the middle of the Vikings’ line? Or will they have to adjust and run more outside the tackles? I’ll meet you Sunday at the Metrodome, where we’ll all find out.