For the first time since getting fired by the Packers, Mike McCarthy is preparing to face his former team as the Cowboys march into Lambeau Field in hopes of handing the Packers their sixth straight loss on the year. Dallas is sitting at 6-2 and coming off a crucial bye week in which several of their banged up players had a chance to rest.
The Cowboys come into this game as favorites - a rarity for road teams in Lambeau - but this fan base has suffered enough trauma at the hands of Aaron Rodgers to feel totally confident. Are our writers harboring similar sentiments?
When Green Bay has the ball
Keep Aaron Rodgers in the pocket
Aaron Rodgers is, by most measures, having the worst year of his career. That said, he’s still been dangerous when he gets flushed out of the pocket and moves his receivers downfield. Every defense has, at one point or another, been victimized by these improvisation plays from Rodgers.
On plays where Rodgers gets pressured this year, his big time throw rate more than triples compared to when he has a clean pocket. Much of that is due to how natural Rodgers is at maneuvering around and finding the open man. The Cowboys will need to convert those pressures into sacks, something they’re already doing at an astronomically high rate - 34.7% to be exact - in order to prevent Rodgers from doing what he does best.
When Dallas has the ball
Get an early lead
The Packers offense has been curiously slow all season, ranking in the bottom quartile of the league in pace per play regardless of game situation. It doesn’t matter whether they’re winning, losing, or tied, this offense is moving at a snail’s pace. It’s helped the Packers when they get a lead - two of their three wins have seen the Packers lead at halftime - but four of their six losses have also come after trailing at halftime. This is not a team that’s built to come back.
So the best way to take advantage of that is for the Cowboys to build an early lead, just as they did against the Bears. Green Bay’s defense will be without its best pass rusher (Rashan Gary), leading tackler (De’Vondre Campbell), and their leader in snaps played at cornerback (Eric Stokes). Dak Prescott and company should have little trouble moving the ball against this defense, and if they can get off to a hot start like they did two weeks ago, the Cowboys can take control of the game early on.
Now onto the predictions from your BTB writers...
Tom Ryle (5-3):
There’s no doubt these two teams are headed in opposite directions. Everything points to a Cowboys win. We still have PTSD from some past losses to the Packers, and you always wonder if Rodgers has another super performance in him. But I think this edition of the Cowboys will handle it all and win by a couple of scores.
Cowboys win, 31-20.
Tony Catalina (4-4):
This week is about revenge. Revenge for the way things ended for Mike McCarthy, revenge for the way Aaron Rodgers has handled the Cowboys throughout his career. This team and this season feels different and handling a down head, injury filled Green Bay Packers team on the road will go a long way in proving that. The Cowboys are better, and they should handle business this weekend.
Give me Dallas 27-13.
Matt Holleran (4-4):
Cowboys/Packers brings back so many bad memories for many Cowboys fans like myself. I may be falling right into the Aaron Rodgers trap again, but I just believe this time will be different. I don’t see any way that Rodgers and Green Bay’s offense are able to have consistent success against this Dallas defense.
The Cowboys should be able to get consistent pressure on Rodgers and potentially force him into some mistakes. I think the offense leans on the rushing attack and does just enough, and the defense finishes the job.
Give me the Cowboys, 20-14.
Brandon Loree (6-2):
I know Cowboys fans out there are nervous about playing a 3-6 Packers team because of what’s happened in the past. Let me ease your worry with a few names. Micah Parsons, Dan Quinn, Trevon Diggs. All three were never a part of the losses in the past. Each person gives the Cowboys a clear advantage heading into Sunday, specifically Parsons.
Heading into these matchups in previous seasons, I’ve never felt confident in the Cowboys being the better team. Dallas has explosive youth on both sides of the ball and a defense that can apply pressure from six players. If you watch the 2016 game in Green Bay, I think it will be a similar outcome. Efficient offense and an opportunistic defense creating turnovers.
Give me Dallas 30-24.
Matthew Arizzi (5-3):
The Cowboys are the better team here, plain and simple. Aaron Jones has a lingering injury and may not play and he seems to be the only dynamic playmaker on the Packers offense. Rodgers has thrown an interception in each of the last two games and has either fumbled or thrown an interception in every game this season.
This bodes well for a defense like the Cowboys and if they can force multiple turnovers, this should not be a sweat. Emphasis on should. It’s hard to pick in opposition of Aaron Rodgers against the Cowboys, especially coming off a loss, but we’ll bank on the better team here.
Cowboys 24, Packers 18.
Mike Poland (6-1):
So the Cowboys struggle against the run, well so does Green Bay. In fact they are worse! Add to the fact the Packers offence scores an average of 17 points a game (that’s 6th worst in the league), the Cowboys defense allows an average of 16 points per game (3rd best). This is a good game to attack the middle, Schultz scores his first TD this season against the Packers.
Cowboys win 27-13.
This game has left many a sour taste in the mouth’s of Cowboys fans, but not this year. Aaron Rodgers is going to be met with a rude awakening when Micah Parsons and company put forth their maximum effort to put on a show for their head coach, who has his own personal feelings about the Green Bay organization. While you can never count out Rodgers, I am counting on Dak Prescott to show out like he did in 2016.
Cowboys win 31-16.
Brian Martin (6-2):
This is pretty simple. The Dallas Cowboys are simply better than the Green Bay Packers this year. This shouldn’t be much of a contest, however, you can never take the Packers lightly as long as Aaron Rogers and Aaron Jones are part of the equation. Both players seem to be at their best when playing the Cowboys and could be so once again in Week 10.
Cowboys win, 24-13.
RJ Ochoa (5-3):
It is astounding to me that there are Dallas Cowboys fans who are not insanely fired up for this game. The Green Bay Packers have owned us for the better part of the last decade. They are our big brother and I do not care what their record is. I want to storm into Lambeau Field, plant a silver and blue flag, and dominate all four quarters in the most savage way possible.
This week is for Mike McCarthy in many ways, but it is also about a changing of the guard. The Packers are seemingly (thankfully) at the end of their incredibly dominant run. I want the Cowboys to send them on their way and not fall victim to any sort of trap game or lull or whatever. Win this one for Mike, but win it because that is who you are nowadays.
Cowboys by 20.
David Howman (6-2):
These are two teams trending in very different directions, and the Cowboys seem to have every conceivable edge over the Packers. In previous years, I’d say that this is the perfect setup for yet another heartbreak from Rodgers and the Packers. But Mike McCarthy has built this team up the right way (I think) and I would be shocked if they let an inferior opponent beat them.
I expect a strong start on offense from Dak Prescott, and the Cowboys special teams will have a field day: Packers punter Pat O’Donnell has been pressured at the highest rate of any punter over the last five seasons, and he’s also got the lowest hang time on the year. We’ll get either a blocked punt or a KaVontae Turpin house call - or both! - en route to a satisfying win that exorcises demons for both McCarthy and this fan base.
Cowboys win 37-22.