The Green Bay Packers are playing great football right now and that has a lot of Cowboys fans nervous. That’s understandable. A loss right now would dampen a great season that has seen huge strides taken by this football team. The future is bright for the Cowboys. But so is the present. While the Packers are a good team, the Cowboys are an even better team. It’s okay to be nervous, but it should be more excitement than anything else. It’s like asking someone out on a date. I’m sure you had a pretty good idea of what the answer would be, but it still was a little unnerving because there’s always that chance of rejection. But you did it anyway and the next thing you knew, you’re married and then had little Cowboys rug-rats running around. See, everything worked out. You did it because you believed in yourself. Well, believe in this team, because this date with the Packers is going to end well.
Here are my five reasons why the Cowboys will beat up on the Packers this Sunday.
Big Play Differential
This game is going to consist of a lot of small battles. The teams will take turns winning on certain plays as they try to string together scoring drives. While all the attention seems to be centered on stopping Aaron Rodgers, the Cowboys have been in this situation plenty of times before and have handled it well. And the reason for this is the ability to win the big play battle. The Cowboys defense is tied for third in big plays allowed (61), right there alongside that stellar New York Giants defense. But unlike the Giants, the Cowboys have an offense to compliment them as they are ranked second in big plays produced (98). This gives Dallas a big play differential of 35, which leads the league. And it’s not even close. The next highest team is New England with 26.
One of the Cowboys reasons for success this season is how well they do with big plays on both sides of the ball. This will come in handy against the Packers.
The Cowboys defense has plenty of resources to devote to the passing game.
And the offense can scorch you when you over commit to stop Ezekiel Elliott. This is how you beat an 11-man front.
Ezekiel The Sequel
The Packers struggled stopping Ezekiel Elliott the first time these teams met as the rookie running back dashed for 157 yards on 28 carries. Green Bay will be trying to do everything they can to contain Zeke, but this will not be an easy task. Elliott has been heating up as of late, averaging over 6.8 yards a carry in his late two games. And considering he’s got fresh legs with all the extra rest – he will be a man on a mission this Sunday.
The last time he had this much rest between games, he tore it up.
Sunday will be Ezekiel Elliott's 1st game in 20 days. Went 33 days between games at Ohio State in 2015. Fiesta Bowl: 27 runs, 149 yds, 4 TDs— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) January 12, 2017
VAfan recently pointed out that the Packers don’t fare well against good offenses. They have lost all five games where they have gone against an offense that is in the upper half in scoring. Not elite offenses; just the top 16. Dallas ranks 5th.
But it gets even uglier for them when they allow a 100-yard rusher. It has happened three times this season and they lost all three games. And not only did they lose, but they lost badly, losing all of them by at least two touchdowns.
Feed the Zeke.
People can do their best to throw out narratives as they search for reasons the Cowboys will lose this game, but there is one critical point that overrides all others – the Cowboys are prepared to play their best football. Jason Garrett has his guys focused. The calmness over this group shows the lack of nerves, which may seem surprising considering how so many of them haven’t ever been in a playoff game. This calmness comes from their preparation. They know exactly what they need to do and they are ready.
This isn’t a team where they are relying on one superstar player to win the game for them. This is a group of 53 players who have consistently stayed the course as they’ve ventured through this path of greatness.
Rodgers is going to have his moments where he’s dancing around in the pocket. And it will be frustrating to all of us. But despite the concern of a lack of pass rush, the Cowboys have been doing better in this department. Even though they’ve had a handful of defensive linemen miss games over the last month, players like David Irving, Benson Mayowa, and Maliek Collins have all stepped up. During weeks 15 and 16 against Tampa Bay and Detroit, no defensive tackle had more QB pressures than Irving.
Now they’ll have everyone back and it should restore a formidable eight-man rotation. While it is a mystery as to how Rod Marinelli places his pieces, the Cowboys should come out strong as they attack the Packers weakest part of their line – the middle.
Rodgers is a great player who can fire in darts to his receivers, but if you want to impact his ability to be effective, attacking him up the middle is the best way. The Cowboys have the resources to do just that.
Fast Times At AT&T
As successful as the Cowboys have been this season, luck hasn’t been a huge part of it. As OCC wrote recently, the Cowboys have played in four games that were decided by four points or less and sit at .500 with a 2-2 record in those games. When games are close, teams open themselves to the possibility of falling victim to some element of flukiness that could cost them the game. The Cowboys have done a good job of avoiding that this season.
One way to do this is to start fast. It’s no secret by now that if the Cowboys win the coin toss, they want the ball so they can drive down and score. We’ve seen it happen all too often. But it’s not just the offense that starts fast. The Cowboys defense is top five in points allowed, but they are even better in the first half. Dallas is second in points allowed in the first half with just 8.8 points.
If the Packers gets themselves in a hole, the Cowboys have the type of team that can fend off a comeback. With a clock-chewing running game and a constantly well-rested defense who are given plenty of time to go over their reads on the sidelines – it can make things hard on Green Bay as they try to get back in the game.