Sep. 23, 2016
Packers Divisional Round Preview
So, here we are, back to being what everybody thought we would be prior to the season. I am among a large group of individuals who believed that at the very least, the Packers would once again make the divisional round of the postseason, and here we are, four days away from a showdown in Arlington, Texas with the number one seed Dallas Cowboys. I think we are going to win this game, and yes, I know Dallas won in Lambeau 30-16, back in week SIX. In other words, it's been a long time, and we are a much different team since then.
As far as injuries go for the Packers, it would be foolish to believe wide receiver Jordy Nelson or cornerback Quinten Rollins will be playing in Dallas. If they are, it would be a nice surprise, but at this moment their injuries are too much for this quick of a recovery. On the other hand, Ty Montgomery returned last week after his injury, so expect him to play, and I'd expect a return from James Starks too. ILB Blake Martinez is the last Packer on the injury report, and he really is questionable. I think that he will be playing due to the stakes, but that's just me. Also, WR Geronimo Allison has had rumors of a marijuana arrest in September that just came to surface, but according to reports he will be playing this week at the very least.
The Cowboys have a good amount of injuries, especially on the defensive side of the football, but I would think that they are all going to play after having the week off. Four defensive linemen, including DE Demarcus Lawrence, are all questionable along with OLB Justin Durant and CB Morris Claiborne. The good news is LT Tyron Smith is nursing an MCL injury, and those things are hard to come back from. Backup QB Tony Romo is also on the injury list, and in other breaking news Jerry Jones is still the owner of the Cowboys. Either way, Romo probably won't have to play.
The fact that the Cowboys don't need Romo anymore is due to the emergence of rookie QB Dak Prescott, who up to this point has shown no signs of falling apart under pressure. Granted, this is officially the most meaningful game of his career in the public eye to this point, and he is coming off of a two week rest. Same goes with the other rookie MVP candidate, running back Ezekiel Elliott, who has led the NFL in rushing behind the Cowboys' offensive line. In other words, this offense is a lot better than the Giants. What the Packers must do to stop it is do whatever is necessary to stop the run and force Dak to beat you. Dak has no pressure because of the running game, and stopping Elliott is necessary. The Cowboys' receiving corp is the "weakness" of the offense, so the Packers should be able to disrupt the flow if they stop the run.
On the other side of the ball, the Packers have the edge. According to numerous experts, the New York Giants defense was among the league leaders in stopping the run and the best at stopping the pass. They were right about the run defense, or the lack of running game the Packers have, but Aaron Rodgers threw for almost 400 yards and four touchdowns against it. Even with Nelson out, these Packers receivers are better than the likes of Brandon Carr and Orlando Scandrick. We just need to keep the Cowboys pass rush honest, as they have six players (not including Lawrence) with at least 2.5 sacks, although none have more than six.
The best way to win Sunday is to get ahead early with a quick touchdown, a three and out, and a touchdown or field goal in the next possession. That's very unlikely to happen, but an early lead will take Elliott partially out of the game and put all of the pressure on Prescott. He's not the best QB in the NFL yet, that title belongs to the likes of Aaron, Tom Brady or even Matt Ryan, so we need to force the offense to be one-dimensional. Packers win a much closer game, with a final score of: Green Bay 30, Dallas 27