The Dallas Cowboys are frantically preparing for a familiar foe as the NFC North leading Green Bay Packers come to Texas for a key week five matchup in the NFC. These teams are all too familiar with one another as the Packers have defeated Dallas in the playoffs in two of the last three seasons. Not much has changed between this Sunday’s matchup and the heartbreaking playoff loss Dallas faced in January. Let’s take a look at the Packers offensive approach and how the Dallas defense will fare against Green Bay.
Aaron Rodgers comes back to Dallas this weekend and looks to build on his impressive January playoff game against these Cowboys. Rodgers has faced the Cowboys eight times in his career, including two playoff games. For this career against Dallas, he boasts a 67% passing completion, 13 touchdowns, two interceptions and two rushing touchdowns. Through four games this season, Rodgers has appeared more human as he has already logged three interceptions and has been sacked 15 times. He will face a young secondary with multiple rookies and sophomores trying to cover all of Rodgers weapons.
Rodgers has fared remarkably well against the Cowboys in his career and there is no reason to expect that this game will be any different. All that being said, lets take a closer look at the rest of his offense before anointing him the winner in this NFC showdown.
The Green Bay Packers offensive line is young and it has suffered multiple injuries as David Bakhtiari and Bryan Baluga have already missed at least two games each. This is compounded by three backups, Jason Spriggs, Kyle Murphy and Don Barclay already on IR. The loss of T.J. Lang to the Detroit Lions this offseason does not help either. As a result, Rodgers has already been sacked 15 times in just four games.
The offensive line woes for the Packers provide a much needed opportunity for Dallas. The Cowboys welcome back David Irving this week and he will create matchup problems with the recent emergence and superb play of Demarcus Lawrence. The Cowboys must put considerable pressure on Rodgers throughout the game in order to force him into difficult situations and give the Dallas offense every chance to put the game away early.
The Packers enter their week five matchup with Jordy Nelson, Randal Cobb and Marcellus Bennett as the primary playmakers. At this time, it remains to be seen if Ty Montgomery (fractured ribs) or Davonte Adams (concussion) are healthy enough to play this weekend. Surprisingly, in six career games against the Cowboys, Nelson has recorded less than 300 yards and only one touchdown. In prior games, it was the play of Montgomery, Cobb and Adams that caused the Dallas defense havoc throughout the game.
Looking closer at this matchup, the Cowboys will need their defensive line to pressure Rodgers to prevent the Packers from having their downfield routes develop. As Cowboys Nation remembers well, it was a last gasp pass to Jared Cook that set up the game winning field goal in the January playoff game. In order for the Cowboys to win this weekend, the Dallas secondary will have to stay disciplined, regain their fundamentals and focus on thorough tackling.
The key matchup this weekend will be Dallas’ ability to prevent Aaron Rodgers scrambling for first downs. His passing ability is well documented and historic and the Dallas secondary will be heavily tested throughout the game. The part of Rodgers game that is particularly impressive is him ability to roll out and throw on the run, or better yet, to scamper for critical drive-sustaining first down conversions. Sean Lee comes back this week just in time to add intuition and a veteran presence in the middle of the field to limit Rodgers’ ability running the ball.
If the Cowboys are able to pressure Rodgers this Sunday, expect Dallas to regain their winning ways and finally capture a signature 2017 win. If the Cowboys get down early to a fervent passing attack, Dak Prescott and the Dallas offense will become one dimensional which will lead to a Cowboys loss.