The Green Bay Packers field one of the league’s most elite, offensive trios. Aaron Rodgers is a front-runner for the league’s Most Valuable Player award; Eddie Lacy finished the regular season in the top ten in rushing yards; and Jordy Nelson cracked the top five in yards for wide receivers. You could probably throw in Randall Cobb (11th in receiving yards) for a nice quartet as well!
Not many other teams can boast that they have am offensive trio to rival the Packers. Only the Pittsburgh Steelers statistically had a better trio in Ben Roethlisberger, Le’veon Bell and Antonio Brown. But as the Dallas Cowboys make their way to Lambeau Field for this weekend’s NFC Divisional match-up, they bring along with them a pretty hefty three-headed monster of their own. One that could give the Packers’ defense a good scare. Let’s crunch some numbers, shall we?
Throughout the 2014 season, the Packers defense faced twelve of the Top 25 players based on receiving yards. Here is how they fared:
Based on these numbers, the Packers have given up an average of 75 yards and 0.4 touchdowns to the top receivers. The Cowboys’ top wide out Dez Bryant ranks just between Tate and Maclin on the yardage list, but caught a league-leading 16 touchdowns on the season. Averaging out Bryant’s stats with the above Packers’ defensive stats, it wouldn’t be surprising if Bryant tallies somewhere in the ballpark of 80 yards and a score on Sunday.
In the nine games against the Top 15 quarterbacks, the Packers allowed an average of 265 yards and two touchdowns through the air. Tony Romo finished the regular season ranked 14th in the NFL on the passing yardage list this year, falling between Cutler and Wilson. Once again averaging out the stats, Romo could be expected to throw for about 255 yards and two scores. That second touchdown could easily go to WR2 Terrance Williams, or even to the third member of their vaunted trio, DeMarco Murray. Let’s talk about him next.
In 2014, the Packers faced eleven of the Top 25 players based on rushing yards.
Based on these stats, the Packers allowed an average of 68 yards and about 0.5 touchdowns per game to the top rushers in the league. Murray was a juggernaut running the ball this year, averaging 115 yards per game and finding the end zone 13 times. Averaging out the two sets of stats gives us an approximate stat line of 91 yards and a touchdown for Murray on Sunday. And while he is definitely capable of catching the ball out of the backfield, he only averaged 26 yards receiving per game in 2014, and did not score once off a Romo pass.
The Packers defense has definitely improved from last year. In the 2014 regular season, they ranked 10th against the pass by holding opposing quarterbacks to an average of 226 yards per game with 1.6 touchdowns, while also averaging one interception. Romo and the Dallas offense put 236 yards and 2.3 touchdowns per game, while throwing 0.7 interceptions. I like the Packers’ chance of a pick in this contest. Just for kicks, let’s say Sam Shields, okay?
Against the run, the Packers defense gave up an average of 119 rushing yards and 0.7 touchdowns per game, which equated to 23rd in the NFL. Thanks mostly to Murray, the Cowboys rushed for 147 yards per game as well as one touchdown on average. These numbers were good enough for second in the league behind only the Seahawks. Of the three offensive weapons for Dallas, Murray worries me the most.
Adding together all of the averages I’ve produced for you in this article, it seems that the Dallas offense should put up about 350 yards of total offense and three touchdowns. With their kicker Dan Bailey averaging 1.5 field goals per game, that brings their number on the scoreboard to either 24 or 27 – a number that the Packers should be able to top in front of the home crowd.
On Friday, I’ll crunch the numbers of the Packers’ trio against the Cowboys’ defense and put together my final prediction.