Being a Vikings fan sounds torturous.

Observations gathered during the first decade as a Minnesotan led to this conclusion a while ago. But it's being reinforced en masse this week as fans still stuck on Drew Pearson's phantom push-off 35 years ago are assuming the Vikings, the referees or both will blow it this week when the Cowboys visit the Metrodome for Sunday's NFC divisional playoff game.

The Cowboys are red-hot, the Purple faithful pout. The Cowboys' pass rush is too good. The Vikings can't stop Tony Romo. Brett Favre has never beaten Dallas in the playoffs. Brett Favre will get hurt. Brett Favre is too old. Brett Favre will throw an interception ...

Boo hoo, people.

Favre and the Vikings spent 17 weeks going 12-4, winning their division and earning home-field advantage over the Cowboys. For that, you'd think fans would be kind of, you know, happy, since it means the Vikings should, you know, win the game.

But not in the Land of 10,000 Reasons the Vikings Will Never, EVER Win.

During Monday's Star Tribune online chat, a fan asked whether the Vikings would have to rely on a "fluky turnover" just to compete with the Cowboys. Scar tissue from years of disappointment is one thing, but facing a Dallas team that's won four in a row isn't reason to assume the fetal position, folks.

The Cowboys are hot, but so were the Packers before they went to Arizona when it counted. So were the Eagles before they went to Dallas. Now Dallas has to come here and play a Vikings team that's 8-0 at home, including 3-0 against playoff teams.

Yes, the Cowboys have an impressive pass rush. They ranked seventh in the NFL in sacks with 42.

But what about the Vikings' pass rush? They ranked, um, first with 48 sacks. Of Jared Allen's 14 1/2 sacks and five forced fumbles, 9 1/2 sacks and three forced fumbles came at home. He had at least one sack in five home games because he uses the crowd to get the jump he needs on left tackles who can't hear the snap count.

Allen will face left tackle Flozell Adams, who has never met a drive he couldn't disrupt by penalty. Flo has 13 penalties for 110 yards and has collected $80,000 in fines this season. That could increase this week because of an unnecessary-roughness penalty in last week's wild-card win over the Eagles.

Flo's preferred penalty is the false start. He has six of those, which was enough for at least one fan to create the "Flozell Adams False Start Fan Club" on Facebook.

Adams protects Romo's blind side. Despite the penalties, he's done it well enough that Romo has had his best season. He set the franchise record for passing yards while throwing 26 touchdown passes and only nine interceptions.

Romo won his first playoff game on Saturday. It was treated by some media members as an event worthy of Roman numerals and a trip to Canton, Ohio. In reality, he and coach Wade Phillips won a home playoff game their team should have won, which is something neither did in 2007 when they were 13-3.

While Romo has been outstanding this year, he still hasn't won a road playoff game. Plus, his counterpart is Favre, who has won a game with Roman numerals.

But ever since Favre stepped out of Chilly's Escalade back in August, Vikings fans have been waiting for Favre to:

A. Get hurt and miss a game.

B. Throw an interception to lose a big game.

C. Get hurt and miss a game after throwing an interception to lose a big game.

So far, all he's done is continue an iron-man streak that began in 1992 while throwing seven interceptions during the best season of his career. And only two of those interceptions have come at the Metrodome.

The Cowboys are being hailed as a team worthy of winning the NFC with strong defense, good special teams and a reliable quarterback having a great year. Naturally, that has Vikings fans expecting the worst when they should be celebrating home-field advantage and a team worthy of winning the NFC with strong defense, better special teams and a reliable quarterback who's having an even greater year.

Mark Craig •