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Cowboys vs. Packers: Limiting former NFC East foe Preston Smith will be pivotal for Dallas

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The former division rival will try to wreak havoc on Sunday.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Green Bay Packers Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Much of the talk about the Cowboys-Packers game has surrounded the offensive side of the ball. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers haven’t had the kind of start to the season that they would have wanted, but they have the talent to put up points. Dak Prescott and the Cowboys offense, meanwhile, exploded to start the season but struggled to move the ball the last time out.

Both quarterbacks and offenses will be looking to make a statement on Sunday afternoon in AT&T Stadium during FOX’s America’s Game of the Week in front of a national audience.

There is some big time talent on both defenses as well, though. The Cowboys are led by Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, and DeMarcus Lawrence, while the Packers were aggressive in free agency and added some serious talent to their defense, too.

Arguably the biggest offseason addition to the Packers was the acquisition of Preston Smith. Smith, who was drafted in the second round by the Washington Redskins in 2015, spent his first four professional seasons in the NFC East. This season, he is making life hard for the NFC North.

The Cowboys played against Smith twice during the 2018 season, and Smith was able to find some success: nine tackles, two tackles-for-loss, six QB hits, 1.5 sacks, and a fumble recovery in the end zone.

This season, Smith has been among the best players for Green Bay: accounting for 15 tackles, three TFLs, eight QB hits, and 4.5 sacks through four games. Smith also had 19 pressures, which is good for 11th in the NFL so far this season.

Smith was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his three-sack, three-QB hit, five-tackle performance against the Denver Broncos in week three.

The Cowboys, as mentioned before, have a history against Smith. Last season, the Cowboys were without Tyron Smith in the second game that Dallas lined up against the lengthy pass rusher. Much like that time around, Cameron Fleming will be tasked with blocking Smith on Sunday.

Fleming did an overall solid job on that Thanksgiving Day, but the now-Green Bay pass rusher was able to get to Dak Prescott and bring down his former Mississippi State teammate for a sack. Needless to say, Fleming will have his hands full protecting Prescott’s blind side this Sunday.

The Dallas Cowboys’ offensive line struggled to win the battle in the trenches against the New Orleans Saints in week four, especially when running the football. While the Packers have struggled to defend the ground game this year, Preston Smith is a big reason why Green Bay is among the best in the league at defending the pass — giving up just 188 yards per game through the air in 2019, good for third best in the NFL.

Protecting Dak Prescott’s blind side and taking their former NFC East foe out of the equation would go a long way in getting the Cowboys back in the win column this Sunday. Are Cameron Fleming and the offensive line up to the challenge?