The Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers will meet for the second time this year in the NFC Divisional Round of the playoffs. Their first meeting was all Dallas as the Cowboys dominated the game at Lambeau Field en route to a 30-16 road win in Week 6. And even though today's game will take place in the much more friendly confines of AT&T Stadium in Dallas, few observers expect a repeat of the Week 6 game.
According to Football Outsiders' DVOA rankings, the two teams are pretty evenly matched:
The Cowboys initially opened as 4-point favorites, giving the Cowboys an edge for home field advantage but little more. The line has since moved in the Cowboys' favor, with some books offering the Cowboys at -5.5 points on Sunday morning.
The over/under for the game is set at a relatively high 52, the highest value of the weekend. There's a good chance that the first team to 30 points will win the game.
Elliott Harrison of NFL.com thinks the Cowboys will be that team and predicts a 30-26 Cowboys win.
What matters Sunday? Much of what counted in October. The Packers' run defense had better slow down Ezekiel Elliott and that Cowboys ground attack. Green Bay came into the first meeting allowing less than 3 yards per carry. Then Dallas outrushed the cheeseheads 191-78. Being that successful means the Cowboys control the clock, limiting Aaron Rodgers' touches. If the Packers go 0-fer -- like on their first four drives versus the Giants -- they won't get 8-10 more possessions to compensate.
I like Rodgers against the Dallas secondary, but Jordy Nelson's absence sure doesn't help. Also, with Mo Claiborne back at corner and Dallas' pass rushers having rested legs -- hello David Irving, who was a force in the earlier meeting -- can Rodgers get enough time (in terms of protection and number of drives) to put up enough points? The guess here is no, but that's why they play the games.
Closer to home, the six of the eight writers at the Dallas Morning News predict a Cowboys win, with only Brandon George and Barry Horn casting their vote for the Packers.
At ESPN, nine of the 10 expert picks come down in favor of the Cowboys, while the votes at FOX Sports like the Packers 3-2, and the panelists at CBS Sports like the Packers 5-3.
These are only three prominent websites when it comes to NFL experts who give their predictions on a weekly basis. What about all the other sites? This is where our friends at NFL Pick Watch come in. They compile all NFL Expert Picks into one easy-to-read graph, and they have 70 percent of experts and algorithms taking the Cowboys in this playoff game.
The Cowboys are 7-1 at home this season, while the Packers are just 4-4 on the road. All six playoff games so far saw the home teams win their games quite handily, will the Cowboys make it seven?