NFC Divisional Playoff
(4) Green Bay Packers at (1) Dallas Cowboys
Packers: Last week against the Giants was probably the best they’ve looked all year long from a complete game standpoint. The offense did what they’ll always do even with Jordy Nelson leaving with that rib injury. Other guys stepped it up when they had too. Randall Cobb had the game of his life and Devante Adams was also a reliable target over the middle. This team is hot and they are clicking right now and in typical Aaron Rodgers fashion, they look r-e-l-a-x-e-d. When Rodgers said they would run the table, it happened and once again, he’s a favorite to win the MVP for the third time in his career and the stats don’t lie. During this seven-game winning streak, Aaron Rodgers has thrown a total of 22 touchdown passes and zero interceptions. As some of you know, I refer to Aaron as “Like That” because he simply makes plays, like that. I’m still very worried about their defense because they are extremely erratic. Yes, they held the Giants offense to 13 points, but let’s be real about things: One, the Giants offense was as up and down as the stock exchange and secondly, the Giants beat themselves by dropping the football in open space. The Packers have a nice front seven that can rush the passer, tackle and attack the line of scrimmage, it’s the secondary that’s the shakiest part of their unit. They handled business against one NFC East team last week and this Sunday, they’ll look to do the same against the top-seeded Cowboys.
Cowboys: So let’s rewind it some and go back to 2015. The Dallas Cowboys win their first two games. Dez Bryant goes down with a foot injury and the following week, Tony Romo breaks his collarbone and without those two, they lost seven in a row. This preseason, Tony goes down again with a back injury and the reigns of the starting quarterback were Dak Prescott’s, a fourth-round draft pick out of Mississippi State. This guy is going to be good for years and years to come. He and Zeke have led them to the top record in the NFC at 13-3 including 11 wins in a row. They got back to the basic fundamentals and that’s running the football and anybody can run it for them, especially when you have the best offensive line in football opening the holes up for you. Dak and Zeke have been the engines to this entire Cowboys team all season long and who would’ve thought two rookies would lead them to the top seed in the NFC Playoffs? Their offense ranked fifth in total offense and fifth in scoring as they averaged 26 points per game. When I look at their defense, it’s average at best. Sean Lee is by far their best player and he’s also the tone setter. He roams all around the field and wherever you see the football, number 50 is in on the action and he’s in the pile of tacklers. The secondary has also given up a lot of big plays down the field and they also struggle to stop drag routes over the middle of the field which can result in a touchdown. They’ve proved themselves in the regular season, now, it’s time to see what they’re really made of in January.
Packers Player To Watch: Mike Daniels– Whenever I talk about underrated football players, in my opinion, this guy comes up all the time. He’s a 6’0, 291-pound defensive end that people don’t really discuss. He’s phenomenal when it comes to shutting down the run and they’ll need him to be that guy along with everyone in the front seven to stop Zeke and pressure Prescott.
Cowboys Player To Watch: Terrance Williams– This maybe hard for you to believe once you read this, but he’s the only guy on the Cowboys roster that’s scored a touchdown in the playoffs? Not even Jason Witten has scored one. When these two last played, Cole Beasley had the game of his life against Green Bay and Dez was inactive. I see Green Bay really putting a lot of attention on Dez and Beasley which could open the field up for Williams.
Packers Keys To The Game: It starts with containing the Cowboys running game. I can’t say it enough and it will take a lot of discipline to do so, something the Packers defense has lacked in the second half of the season. Remember the week six battle when the Cowboys top rated running game battled the Packers number one rush defense? Dallas won that battle convincingly. The Packers need to also get Jared Cook involved a lot. With Jordy out with fractured ribs, he can give Rodgers a nice trio of receivers in Cobb, Adams, and cook.
Cowboys Keys To The Game: Feed Zeke the football and let him get his carries early and often. Running the ball and winning those time of possession battles has been the reason behind their success, so why get away from that? He’s been your best offensive player all year long, give the ball to your playmaker. As a defense, man to man coverage is necessary across the board. Playing that zone scheme all around is asking for Aaron Rodgers to destroy you any way he can and lastly, don’t allow Rodgers to buy too much time.
Prediction: This is by far the game of the weekend. If we get the type of battle we got two years ago when they met in the playoffs, we should be in for a treat. How could we forget what decided the game basically? Dez’s catch (which was a catch by the way). The Packers are hot right now and are looking to keep it rolling. I like Green Bay in this one. Packers 35 Cowboys 27