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Cowboys News: Why Ground Game Will Help Cowboys Beat Packers In A "Landslide"

Latest Cowboys headlines: Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott seek playoff history; why Cowboys defense might surprise people; can the Dallas line outmuscle Green Bay's front?

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Bart Scott: Cowboys are going to beat the Packers in a 'landslide' - SportsDay Staff
Bart Scott gives as succint an explanation of the effect the Cowboys' ground game can have on an opponent as I've read anywhere.

"When you can run the football [like the Cowboys], everything is available. The best defense is a great offense. That's why I say I think this is going to be a landslide."

"You can stop the run for a little bit, but then it just starts hurting and it's just like, 'Man, coach, I can't hold up.' And then you start seeing people make business decisions and they try to find a cheaper, easier way. They run around that block because they're tired of the physical collision and that's when the creases start. Once the creases start, the floodgates open."

"(Rodgers) can put up 24, but then I think at the same time, (the Cowboys have) shown that they can put up 34," Scott said. "Once you start running the ball, man, I'm telling you: It's like taking somebody's pride. It's like smacking somebody. Punch me in the face, kick me in the chest - don't smack me, man. That's like toying with me. I think this Dallas Cowboy line can toy with that light (Green Bay) line."

Can Dak Prescott become the first rookie quarterback to win a Super Bowl? - Mark Maske, Chicago Tribune
Prescott's rookie season with the Dallas Cowboys already has been remarkable, and now has the chance to become historic.

No rookie quarterback ever has secured a Super Bowl triumph for his team. In fact, no rookie quarterback ever has started a Super Bowl. But Prescott is probably as well positioned as any rookie quarterback to make it happen, with the Cowboys rested, basically healthy and looking imposing entering the NFC semifinal that they will host Sunday against the Green Bay Packers.

"There's a terrific offensive line," said Charley Casserly, the former general manager of the Houston Texans and Washington Redskins. "There's a Pro Bowl running back. There's a Pro Bowl receiver. You've got a very good, move-the-chains tight end. You've got a lot of things going for you in this case."

And when in doubt, Prescott and the Cowboys have a very good fall-back option: hand the ball to Elliott.

"You won't find anyone more impressed than me with what Prescott has done," said ESPN analyst Tim Hasselbeck. "He's been great. But the run game in Dallas, that's the key. Their offensive line is very, very good and it creates opportunities for Elliott. But it doesn't have to be blocked perfectly for Elliott. People say run the football, win the turnover battle and you'll win. It's cliché. But it's so true in Dallas. Their run game is the most impressive thing they've done this season."

Packers-Cowboys key matchup: Can the Dallas line outmuscle Green Bay's front? - Jared Dubin,
The best defense is good offense, Dubin explains.

The Cowboys know better than anyone what can happen if you can't pressure Rodgers enough to bother him -- that's how they lost to the Packers in the divisional round in 2014. DeMarco Murray ran for 123 yards that day and the Cowboys actually won the time of possession battle, but they didn't win it by enough as they let Rodgers orchestrate a comeback from eight points down in the second half. Dallas' pass rush come on stronger down the stretch of the year but is still not a strength. Their secondary played far better than expected but can still be taken advantage of.

Their best defense on Sunday will be, as it has been throughout the year, a good offense. If they can control the clock and give Rodgers as few opportunities as possible to put points on the board, the Cowboys will stand a much better chance of hosting the NFC title game next week.

Cowboys juggernaut faces stiffest test yet in Packers - Paul Schwartz, New York Post
Schwartz likes the Cowboys for the win today, because - unlike the Packers - the Cowboys don't have to rely on their QB to win the game for them.

To take the Cowboys where no first-year quarterback ever has gone before, Prescott will have to navigate past Rodgers and then Matt Ryan, an established NFL veteran quarterback and quite possibly this year’s NFL MVP. If Prescott makes it to Houston for Super Bowl LI, there to greet him could be Tom Brady and the Patriots.

"I want to get to where those guys are," Prescott said. "I want to win multiple Super Bowls in this league. So it’s great going against those guys, seeing those guys on the other side and just watching them and knowing I have a good team and a team that can beat them."

Ah, there’s the key with Prescott. He has a team that can beat the Packers — he does not have to do it himself. Elliott should be heavily considered for MVP honors after posting 1,631 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns, operating behind the league’s best offensive line, a unit that often provides several yards of cushion for Elliott to maneuver through and around. The Packers were the eighth-best run defense this season, but they were helpless three months ago as Elliott ravaged them for 157 yards.

Cowboys' Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott seek playoff history against Packers - LA Times
Dak Prescott and NFL rushing champion Ezekiel Elliott will try to become the first rookie QB-RB tandem to win a playoff game in the Super Bowl era.

"I don't view these guys as rookies," said 14th-year tight end Jason Witten, set for his sixth trip to the postseason. "They've had a lot of at-bats at the plate. They've shown it over the course of 16 games who they are and how they play. I think they understand they just have to be themselves."


Dallas Cowboys: Doomsday? No way ... but here's why Cowboys' 'do-enough defense' can get them where they want to go - Tim Cawlishaw, SportsDay
Cowlishaw's advice to his readers?

Don't be surprised if the Cowboys roll on to the next round with a 30-17 victory. Don't be surprised if a defense makes a name for itself in the process.

This Cowboys defense just might step up and surprise people.

While no one is threatening to lead the league in sacks here, Dallas has no shortage of pass rushers as this team opens the playoffs as the healthiest team in the league. In fact, when you look at the team's depth chart and see that David Irving, DeMarcus Lawrence, Cedric Thornton and Jack Crawford are listed as backups, you do start to think about Jimmy Johnson's '92 team -- the one that obliterated Buffalo -- coming off the bench with Chad Jennings, Jimmie Jones, Leon Lett and Jim Jeffcoat.

OK, these Cowboys aren't there yet. But then maybe that's what these playoffs are about.

Beyond the pass rush, you have a secondary that just earned the league's No. 1 ranking from Pro Football Focus. I'm not going to tell you I completely understand how a unit with nine interceptions and only one player with two (Barry Church) achieved that grade, but with the return of Mo Claiborne this week, it's a group that has four quality corners, including rookie Anthony Brown, to handle the Packers' spread offense.

Twitter mailbag: Cowboys offered clues in defending Aaron Rodgers in October - Dallas Cowboys Blog- ESPN
The Cowboys probably will play similarly against Aaron Rodgers as they did in the first meeting, so don't expect them to blitz much, Archer explains.

I don't think you will see the Cowboys blitz a lot. They're not a heavy pressure team anyway, but you can look to the October meeting for some clues. The Cowboys used a lot of their three-down linemen dime package with Sean Lee and Justin Durant in quasi-spy roles. It worked rather well. The clog-and-cover approach is a good one against Rodgers. It's better to attempt to have him make some tight-window throws than if you pressure him and leave some holes open. The Cowboys want to make Rodgers earn it, according to defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. There will be times Sunday when he will have all day to throw and there will be plenty of groans from the crowd and maybe from the couch for those watching on television. Don't expect the Cowboys to change their ways and become something they're not. They will try to keep the big plays to a minimum and force Green Bay to execute.

Writer's Blocks: Ignoring The Narrative - David Helman, Dallas Cowboys
Helman takes umbrage with the narrative that paints the Cowboys as the underdog against the Packers.

Of course the obvious (perhaps lazy) opinion is to side with the hot All-Pro quarterback and the franchise that has played in 13 playoff games and a Super Bowl over the past seven seasons. After all, they’re going up against a rookie quarterback leading a team with two playoff wins since 1995.

But this narrative shouldn’t surprise you. It’s obvious, and it’s not worth getting upset about. Fortunately for the Cowboys and all the people who root for them, the game still has to be played. At the end of the day, the court of public opinion won’t factor on the field.


NFC Divisional Playoffs betting preview: Packers at Cowboys - Staff
A look at tonight's game from a Vegas perspective.

WHAT SHARPS SAY: "Much like the Steelers, the Packers carry a 7-game win streak into the Big ‘D’ where they will look to avenge a 30-16 home loss suffered to the Cowboys in mid-October. Should Aaron Rodgers' magical touch continue (19 TDs and zero INTs in current win skein) the Cowboys will need to rely on a defense that is 22 YPG better than Green Bay’s stop-unit. The loss of star WR Jordy Nelson could prove pivotal against a hungry Dallas squad that had dropped 8 of its last 10 playoff games." - Covers Expert Marc Lawrence

WHAT BOOKS SAY: "We opened Cowboys -4 and took some sharp action at that number on the Cowboys that pushed us up to -5. We have since came down to Packers +4.5 as we are seeing over 65% of the action coming in on the Packers to cover. I can see this line coming back to to the opening number of Cowboys -4 as we get closer to game time." - Michael Stewart at


Canadian long snapper has been perfect for over a decade with Cowboys - John Kryk, Toronto Sun
Great look at L.P. Ladouceur and how he has mastered his craft.

When Ladouceur grips the football’s laces, bends forward and, on signal, zips it back to holder (and punter) Chris Jones, the football will rotate exactly two-and-a-half times, so that when it hits Jones’s hands, the laces face skyward. That way, when Jones places the ball point-down a fraction of a second before placekicker Bailey swings his foot into it, he doesn’t have to spin the ball. The laces already face forward, away from Bailey’s impact spot on the football -- which is how most kickers prefer it.

Consistent accuracy is everything in long-snapping, just as in throwing footballs or baseballs, or hitting golf balls or tennis balls. Ladouceur is so reliably proficient on placekick snaps, his footballs rotate the desired 2.5 times, well, almost always.

"I do that out of 100 balls probably 96, 97 times. So there are two or three that maybe are a little off. This year I’ve had two or three that have been off a bit, so that’s about right."

How far off?

"It’s very rare that he snaps anything past a quarter-turn off," Bailey said.

Ladouceur has snapped the football back cleanly on all 1,723 attempts since the Cowboys hired him in Week 4 of the 2005 season. No flubs, no skips, no overthrows. Just clean, fast, hard, reliably placed snaps. Every. Single. Time.

On 831 punts.

On 371 field-goal attempts.

On 521 extra points.


What if Eagles had drafted Elliott instead of Wentz? - Martin Frank, The News Journal
Buyer's remorse in Philly? Maybe not quite, bbut if the Cowboys went from 4-12 in 2015 to 13-3 and the top seed in NFC playoffs behind rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott, what could Elliott have done in Philly?

But what if Roseman, in his obsession to find that quarterback in Carson Wentz, overlooked a player at a different position who could have made the Eagles into a playoff team right away? That player, running back Ezekiel Elliott, was taken two picks after the Eagles went at No. 2 by the Eagles’ hated rivals in the Dallas Cowboys.

This is not to disparage Wentz, who no doubt was a victim of the lack of talent around him at wide receiver especially. Yet it’s clear that Wentz and the Eagles won’t get much better until the offensive weapons around him get better.

Elliott, on the other hand, instantly made the Cowboys better. Keep in mind if the Eagles had Elliott, Sam Bradford would have been the starting quarterback, and he would be under contract through 2017.

With Elliott, a 10-6 record and wildcard playoff spot would not have been out of the question.

Of course, Roseman mentioned last week that 10-6 and a wildcard spot isn’t good enough. But that record, followed by an offseason of upgrading the wide receiver and cornerback position, would have put the Eagles in line for that coveted first-round bye and home-field advantage through the NFC playoffs — like Dallas has this season.

Instead, the Eagles are still trying to get past 7-9, let alone 10-6.

Again, Wentz could turn out to be that franchise quarterback that will make the Eagles into a perennial Super Bowl contender. That is still to be determined. But maybe a franchise player is a franchise player, no matter the position. Just ask the Cowboys.

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