Today's NFL PLAYOFF games


The skinny: Vikings QB Brett Favre and company get back into action after enjoying a first-round bye, and the week of rest will come in handy as they face a bruising defense that has allowed an average of 7.8 points in its past four outings. The Vikes would like to get RB Adrian Peterson more involved after he tailed off in the second half of the season, but the numbers say they should be passing – Dallas is No. 4 vs. the run and 20th vs. the pass. Meanwhile, the Cowboys hope to have RB Marion Barber back from a knee injury that limited him to three carries in a playoff opener last week. But Minnesota has the No. 2-rated run defense, so also expect Dallas to throw a lot – QB Tony Romo will face the No. 19 pass defense. Minnesota is 8-0 at home, but Dallas proved it can end streaks as a visitor when it handed New Orleans its first loss a few weeks ago.

The pick: Cowboys 27, Vikings 24

JETS AT CHARGERS, 1:40 p.m., CH. 7

The skinny: San Diego has won 11 in a row, is rested after a bye last week and gets to face the last team to squeak into the playoffs. However, N.Y. has the league’s top defense and No. 1 running game, although a knee injury to RB Thomas Jones slowed him last week (rookie Shonn Greene got the bulk of the work and excelled) but he’s expected to start. San Diego has had trouble defending the run, allowing 117.8 yards a game (No. 20). But if the Chargers can do reasonably well against the run, they will force Jets QB Mark Sanchez to throw a lot, not a good situation on the road in a conference semifinal game. In this round of the playoffs, in which a rested team is at home to face a foe that played the previous week, home teams were 54-22 entering the weekend since the current playoff format began in 1990. That’s 71 percent.