One of our most well received articles in the past few years has been our weekly staff predictions for games. I’m happy to announce that tradition continues now, in the postseason. P.S. If you’d like to read more articles by the writer, simply click on their name. Enjoy!
Senior Writer: Brad Austin
The more I analyze the game, the better it looks for Dallas. Don’t expect the temperature to be near the shocker as it may seem. Dallas practiced Thursday morning in 26 degrees weather (feels like 17 with 7 mph wind). Predictions have Green Bay weather around 19 degrees come Sunday at Noon. The Cowboys will be ready for it.
Dallas’ run defense had strong success limiting big running backs (Lynch, Forte, Morris, Bell, etc.) this season. Eddie Lacy (5’11, 230) will be contained allowing the pass defense to receive safety help on Jordy Nelson. While Aaron Rodgers will be protected well by his capable offensive line, his injured calf will limit the pocket scrambling that makes him most dangerous.
The Cowboys offense will resume their main identity and lean heavily on a bullying run game that overpowered the Seattle defense on their own turf. Green Bay should have real problems with their defensive line standing up to the downhill running power. While veterans Dez Bryant and Jason Witten will both find coverage voids moving the chains.
The Cowboys will have to play a very complete game, refuse to leave points on the field, and also absorb some rough patches. This Packers team is as dangerous as anyone left in the playoffs when executing. In the end, Dallas will do just enough to irk the Cowboy haters and keep the dream season alive.
Final Score: Dallas Cowboys 33, Green Bay Packers 31
Staff Writer: Michael Vu
A tale of the undefeated. The Dallas Cowboys will extend their undefeated streak to 9-0 on the road, handing the Green Bay Packers their first loss at Lambeau Field. It’s a titanic matchup. The Cowboys, still inhaling Cinderella air, will continue their march and make Lambeau Field their home.
With head coach Jason Garrett’s mantra to “Fight” registered at the Patent Office, a group of Cowboys that don’t get enough credit for living up to the message are the linebackers. Middle Linebacker Rolando McClain is a savior — he’s the glue that anchors the defense together and keeps the front and back end of the defense strong. McClain, who hasn’t been practicing due to a neck injury and persistent concussion symptoms, is vital to Dallas’ immune system.
While Anthony Hitchens continues to step up, with or without McClain, the strength of the linebackers group needs to be on the field as they face a potent offense lead by Aaron Rodgers, who is searching to add a new piece of jewelry next to his old one.
Now with defensive tackle Henry Melton sidelined for the year, defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli continues his magic. Last week, he held Calvin Johnson to 5 catches, and no scores because of good pressure up front and strong play from the secondary. Expect Marinelli to dial up another exciting scheme to prevent Aaron Rodgers, and his eighth ranking passing attack, from going wild.
Numbers: The Packers ranked first in points scored (30.4 PTS), while the Cowboys sit four spots behind (29.2 PTS). Dallas is one spot behind the Packers when it comes to total yards, with the Cowboys (7th) averaging 383.6 yards a game, and the Packers (6th) averaging 386.1 yards.
With temperatures in the high of 21 degrees, at 1PM EST the Cowboys will stick to what works best offensively: Run. Dallas will run, and run more until the tires fall off. The Packers have allowed an average of 119.9 rush yards per game, which ranks 23rd in the NFL.
Reality: After facing a tough defense last week against the Detroit Lions, and still come out with a win, Dallas should have less resistance when slamming on the gas pedal. The emotional victory in Dallas last week won’t hinder or limit energy; it will keep Dallas focused.
The Cowboys have shown hunger, and are playing at high level at the right time. And because the Packers were off a week, they will have a slow start as they try to contain the fight of Dallas.
Dallas Cowboys 41, Green Bay Packers 38
Staff Writer: Christian Blood
Don’t expect the same kind of issues that the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers faced during ‘The Ice Bowl’ back in 1967. We’re not going to hear about players who still suffer from numbness or aches and pains because of the pending sequel this weekend some 20 or 30 years from now.
Even if temperatures are exactly the same as they were at kickoff (-15 °F) and thereafter during the ’67 NFL Championship Game, players will be warmer this time around. There won’t be any faulty heating systems below the Lambeau Field surface that creates a sheet of ice to play on and all video footage of the game should be safely captured as opposed to frozen and lost in rolls of film that literally broke upon removal from cameras.
Green Bay will be cold for sure, but it’s not expected to be quite as bad as the only playoff game ever played between the Packers and Cowboys in Wisconsin.
History suggests that Green Bay should be right in its comfort zone for this divisional playoff, however Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News pointed out earlier this week that the Packers apparently don’t like extremely cold weather nearly as much as they’d have us believe – especially this week.
Further, quarterback Aaron Rodgers is estimated to be playing at as little as 50% given the status of his calf injury that saw him carted off the Lambeau Field grass during Green Bay’s regular season-ending victory over the Detroit Lions. Rodgers would return only to get the same lower leg stomped on by Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
Rodgers should be able to plant before passing, but those drop backs into the pocket might not be so crisp and it’s unlikely he’ll be doing much scrambling out of the pocket when Dallas gets pressure, which they should as the game goes on.
Packers running back Eddie Lacy is likely the biggest issue facing the Cowboys. Green Bay does like to run the ball, even if the focus is generally on it’s Pro Bowl and Super Bowl-winning passer.
However, the Cowboys continue to look like a team that’s just not going to lose. In surviving last week’s wild card playoff against Detroit at home, quarterback Tony Romo and the rest of this team continue to show that there’s really no location or set of circumstances that America’s Team can’t handle.
Green Bay could certainly win this game, but I don’t think they will given the sum of all things considered heading into this game. If the Cowboys had no fear of facing – and beating – the defending world champion Seattle Seahawks earlier this season, I’m skeptical that Sunday’s divisional playoff is sending too many shivers into America’s Team.
Dallas Cowboys 28, Green Bay Packers 20
Staff Writer: Randy Gurzi
The Green Bay Packers were the top scoring team in the league in 2014, putting up an average of just over 30 points a contest. The Dallas Cowboys, while not as flashy, were just behind them with 29 points a game, which was 5th best in the league. So there are two high powered offenses, meaning this one could be a shoot out.
To make this game even more interesting, each offense is especially good at what the opposing defense struggles with. Defensively Green Bay was 13th in total points given up with nearly 22 a game. Not bad, except that they were 23rd in the league in regards to stopping the run, surrendering 120 yards per game to opposing backs.
Dallas on the flip side averaged close to 150 yards on the ground and were second in the league in rushing overall. League rushing leader DeMarco Murray should be able to find some holes in this Packer defense.
Flip the sides and a similar story is seen. The Cowboys finished middle of the pack overall in defense, at 15th best for giving up 22 points a game.
Yet, Dallas was atrocious against the pass this year, forfeiting over 250 yards on average, well in the bottom tier pass stoppers. Green Bay thrived in passing, good enough for sixth best in the league, at around 266 yards a game.
With each time thriving at what the other struggles with, this game could go one of many ways. If Dallas comes out flat like they did in Detroit, things could get ugly. Aaron Rodgers is not likely to go cold and get only 3 points in the second half.
If Dallas is able to get Murray going early and control the clock, I really like their chances. A three and out or two can really put them in a bad spot on defense.
In the end, Dallas plays much better on the road and Murray will have that big, career defining game that star players have on playoff runs. Dallas will control the clock, take the crowd out of the game and Tony Romo will come up big in the clutch with another 4th quarter drive. The Pack will have their first road loss of the season and Dallas will take their ninth straight road win.
Dallas Cowboys 27, Green Bay Packers 24
Staff Writer: John Westenberger
Tony Romo. Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports photograph
I think before we all immerse ourselves too far into this game, everyone should sit back and realize what a tremendous season this has been to date.
This fanbase hasn’t been to this point too many times of recent, and it is just awesome to be enjoying this run dating back to Thanksgiving.
As for the game, this has all the makings for a tremendous game.
The Detroit Lions front four will not be suiting up against the Cowboys come game time Sunday, and that will be a welcomed sight for the offensive line.
I look for Tony Romo and DeMarco Murray to get off to much quicker starts this week.
On the other side of the ball, the Cowboys front four will be the key to this game.
If they are able to get some kind of pressure on Aaron Rodgers who will be limited with a calf injury, this team could legitimately pull this upset.
If they get into a game where Rodgers is in rhythm, sitting in the pocket, it will spell big trouble for the Cowboys defense.
Ultimately, this will be a neck and neck game that will probably be decided in the last few minutes of the fourth quarter.
Perhaps even another game winning drive from Romo to shush the doubters?
Dallas Cowboys 26, Green Bay Packers 23
Next: Post Crescent