When the Cowboys leap into Lambeau Field, they will do so in an effort to take down their fourth straight NFC opponent. Prior to the start of the season, many thought the Falcons, Seahawks, Eagles, and Packers were all in contention to win their respective divisions.
In the crazy world of the NFL, anything can happen. Just to ensure that the Cowboys keep the edge on any head-to-head tiebreakers that could come into effect, a road win at Green Bay is in order.
This week, we've heard how awful the Packers' special teams and offensive line have been this season. Nevertheless, they still have a game-breaking passing game led by the young arm of Aaron Rodgers.
In this article, Jeff Caplan compares and contrasts Rodgers and Tony Romo.
Rodgers, who will be 26 on Dec. 2, appears taller and brawnier in the pocket. Romo, 29, seems more athletic, a superior scrambler, swashbuckling even compared to Rodgers’ more measured, yet highly effective, maneuvering. Romo celebrates touchdowns with wild leaps into the arms of his linemen. More composed, Rodgers barely cracks a smile.
"They look different," said former Cowboys personnel director Gil Brandt, "but they’re really the same."
More VRR after the jump.
Some notes on sacking Rodgers.
-The only team to not sack Rodgers were the Browns, who must feel like the one kid at the party who didn’t get any beer
-Roughly 1/3 of Green Bay’s sacks were result of Rodgers holding onto the ball for too long
-Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher played their first game as a tackle tandem all year for the Packers last week. The Bucs still managed to sack Rodgers six times.
-The majority of sacks against the Packers have been registered by defensive ends. HOORAY FOR DEMARCUS.
Dallas is the best in the league in forcing offenses to drive far for a score.
Cowboys' opponents have had the league's lowest average starting point for possessions at 25.7 yards. Green Bay's opponents have had the third-highest starting point at the 33.2.
There aren't many nose tackles in the league better than Jay Ratliff.
Ratliff is first on the team in tackles for loss (14), second in sacks (four) and fourth in pressures (14).
"Man, he's a beast," linebacker Bradie James said. "I don't know if there is a tackle in the league as quick, fast and relentless. He's one of our biggest assets."
Ratliff is expected to have another big game this weekend. According to STATS, Inc., Packers left guard Daryn Colledge has allowed 7.25 sacks this season, second most in the NFL and a big reason Aaron Rodgers has been sacked a league-high 37 times this season.
"He's a great effort player, but he also has great ability," Phillips said of Ratliff. "I've coached a lot of Pro Bowl nose guards, but he's by far the best pass rusher at that position."
A couple of rookies will most likely start for the Pack: RT T.J. Lang and OLB Brad Jones.
And it's looking increasingly likely the Packers (4-4) will be starting two of their second-day picks from April's NFL draft - linebacker Brad Jones and offensive lineman T.J. Lang - when the Cowboys (6-2) roll into town.
Outside linebacker Aaron Kampman, who suffered a concussion in last Sunday's loss to Tampa Bay, didn't practice for the second straight day Thursday, Neither did backup Brady Poppinga, who had a quadriceps injury flare up earlier this week. That left Jones, a seventh-round pick out of Colorado, to work with the starters at Kampman's left outside linebacker spot during the portions of practice open to reporters Wednesday and Thursday.
Here's the rest of the Cowboys @ Packers injury report.
Like the Broncos and Chiefs, the Packers are new users of the 3-4.
Wade Phillips, for one, didn't see any particular reason 3-4 defenses would cause problems for the Cowboys offense. To Phillips it's more about how good the defense is and how well it plays than a tough schematic matchup.
"I think it's each team and each game," Phillips said. "Denver played really good on defense against us up there. The only other game we lost was a 4-3 team (Giants). We made a lot of yards against Kansas City, we didn't produce as many points early as we would like to have."
The Packers, in the first year of their 3-4 metamorphosis, are fourth in the league defensively.
A.J.Hawk and Erik Kramer break down the matchup in this FoxSports vid link. "Stop the run, and pressure the quarterback," says Hawk. Of Romo he says, "get him down, and hopefully get some turnovers."
Coach Phillips and Coach Garrett could look to keep the offense balanced.
The key to Wade Phillips' game plan the two times he has led the Cowboys into battle against Mike McCarthy's Packers has been balance. In the teams' 2007 matchup, the Cowboys threw the ball 30 times, while their running backs notched 28 carries.
In 2008's affair, quarterback Tony Romo attempted 30 passes, while Barber and teammate Felix Jones toted the rock 35 times. In both games, the Cowboys came out victorious.
It is looking less likely that Felix Jones will be returning kicks on Sunday.
Coach Wade Phillips has said that as Jones' plays on offense increase, his special-teams duties would decrease. The Cowboys have worked out rookie Kevin Ogletree and running back Tashard Choice in the position this week.
``If that's what the head man says,'' Jones said.
The series history between the two teams:
The Cowboys lead the all-time regular season series with the Packers, 12-10, and have won each of their last two meetings against Green Bay. Dallas was a 27-16 road winner when it visited Lambeau Field in Week 3 of last season, and was a 37-27 Thursday night winner when the Packers visited Big D in 2007. The former win was Dallas' first all-time win in six trips to Green Bay.
The Packers last triumph in the series was a 41-20 win at Lambeau in 2004. In addition to their regular season history, the clubs have met six times in the postseason, with Dallas holding a 4-2 edge.
The Cowboys have won four straight playoff games against Green Bay since the 1967 NFL Championship, better known as the "Ice Bowl." Dallas' most recent playoff win over Green Bay was a 38-27 triumph for the 1995 NFC Championship.
Getting a little touchy in Lambeau? The Packers fired a long-time maintenance worker for his comment to head coach Mike McCarthy.
Fifty-three-year-old Mike Wood said he was sitting in a maintenance cart in a stadium tunnel a few days before the Minnesota Vikings visited Lambeau Field. As McCarthy talked to members of the grounds crew, Wood said he yelled out to McCarthy to "get the boys ready to kick some butt this weekend."
Here's the NFL Game Center for the Cowboys @ Packers.
Remember that unsportsmanlike conduct penalty thrown at Jason Avant after Brent Celek's TD catch? Apparently, Celek has been rumored to be tied to a Captain Morgan ad campaign. The league is now on the lookout for such liqour-related poses.
The (ad campaign) has been going around internally for a while and (Celek) learned of the program through his contact at Diageo (Captain Morgan's parent company),'' said Glenn Lehrman, an account director at Rogers & Cowan, the Los Angeles-based firm that handles Captain Morgan promotions. ``Brent said, `You know what, if I get the opportunity, I'm going to go ahead and do it.' He sort of beat us to the punch, but we're certainly not going to complain.''
Lehrman said that each time a player was caught on camera in the pose Captain Morgan planned to donate to the Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund, a nonprofit that helps retired NFL players. The campaign was to be unveiled next week with donations of $10,000 during the regular season, $25,000 for the playoffs and $100,000 in the Super Bowl.
The win in Philly was great, but the overtime win in Kansas City may be where the real greatness began.
Turns out the Cowboys might have known something nobody else did. Instead of the latest in a repeating win-one-lose-one cycle, that 26-20 victory started a four-game winning streak that sent Dallas to the top of the NFC East heading into Sunday’s game at Green Bay.
"That’s what really kind of jump-started it," receiver Patrick Crayton said Thursday. "We’re on the road against a team that people are like, ‘Aw, this is going to be an easy one.’ We knew we were going to get their best. It was like their Super Bowl."
Maybe Dallas celebrated like it was the Super Bowl because players realized at halftime what was at stake. The Cowboys were down 10-3 and hadn’t scored a touchdown in five quarters. They risked falling to 2-3 with much tougher games coming up.
Is Mike Florio trying to pique teams' interest in signing recently released Chiefs' RB Larry Johnson, or what? C'mon, man!
But a league source tells us that Johnson is in Dallas for a social visit only, and not because he's meeting with the Cowboys.
There are, per the source, no plans to meet with the Cowboys. And it's not known whether the Cowboys are or will be interested in Johnson. Most likely, the Cowboys aren't currently interested. But they'll likely become interested fairly quickly if one of their top tailbacks becomes unavailable.
And just for fun...JJT vs. Skip Bayless!