On Tuesday we looked at how the Cowboys’ offensive trio of Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray would match up against the Packers defense this coming Sunday. Today, let’s flip the script and take an in-depth look at how the Dallas defense matches up against Aaron Rodgers and the high octane Packers’ offense.
During the 2014 season, the Packers offense has averaged a league-leading 30.4 points per game. Zoom in further on that stat and you’ll find that they average 39.8 points every time they play at home. I guess that’s what dropping two fifty burgers does for your numbers! On the other side of the ball, the Cowboys allow an average of 22 points per game overall, and 22.6 on the road. Keep in mind that the closest to an elite offense they’ve faced on the road was Philadelphia who posted 27 points in their home loss to the ‘Boys.
Similar to what we did on Tuesday with Green Bay, let’s look at how the Dallas defense has fared against some of the elite skill players in 2014.
In the regular season, the Cowboys faced six of the Top 25 players based on receiving yards.
They also took the field against five of the Top 15 quarterbacks in the league based on passing yardage.
Based on the first chart, the Cowboys gave up an average of 96 yards receiving and 0.7 touchdowns to opposing, Top 25 receivers. As you can see, most of the damage came within the NFC East division at the hands of Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson and rookie phenom Odell Beckham. (They also played Indianapolis, but top receiver T.Y. Hilton did not play in the contest.)
For the Packers, Jordy Nelson averaged 94.9 yards per game and 0.8 touchdowns. His battery mate Randall Cobb averaged 80 yards and 0.75 yards of his own. Averaging out all those numbers, the two of them can be expected to have an output around 183 yards and 1.5 touchdowns. Given the offense’s ability to score at home, let’s round that up to two.
Against Top 15 quarterbacks, the Dallas defense allowed 285 passing yards per game, 2.1 touchdowns and 0.9 interceptions. This includes a miserable first half of football by Andrew Luck, who was pulled at halftime in a meaningless, late-season game for the Colts. Aaron Rodgers finished seventh in the league averaging 273.8 yards, 2.4 touchdowns and only 0.3 interceptions per game. Squeeze those numbers further and Rodgers averages 292 yards at home to go along with 3.1 touchdowns and not a single interception.
If we average out the numbers, it’s safe to project that Rodgers will have an output of at least 288 yards and 2.6 touchdowns. Again, a round up to three is probably a safe bet. Two of those should go to Nelson and Cobb, with a third going to a tight end or even to Eddie Lacy. Let’s talk about him next.
In 2014, the Cowboys faced eight of the Top 25 players based on rushing yardage.
The Cowboys also played the Saints and the Rams, but Mark Ingram and Tre Mason did not play in those games. On average, the Dallas defense held these top rushers to only 68 yards and 0.6 touchdowns, with six of the eleven games coming on the rushers’ home fields. The most impressive numbers are against Matt Forte in Chicago, although Forte still had 74 yards receiving in the contest as well.
Eddie Lacy finished the season ranked seventh in rushing yards, which falls just behind Arian Foster on the list. On the year, Lacy averaged 71 rushing yards per game and 0.6 touchdowns. Averaging out his numbers against the Dallas defense, he could be projected to rush for right around 70 yards and a half a touchdown. Let’s assume he gets one since I’m feeling generous. The weather conditions may also cause the Packers to rush the ball slightly more than usual as well.
Looking at the total numbers from this post, it looks like the Packers are capable of tallying upwards of 375 total yards and four touchdowns. Adding in Mason Crosby’s average of 1.7 field goals made per game, we’re looking at the Pack putting up 31 to 34 points on Sunday. Those numbers make me smile. Based on Tuesday’s numbers for the Cowboys, I venture a guess that the final score of Sunday’s game will be:
Green Bay Packers – 34
Dallas Cowboys – 24
Some people say that the numbers never lie. Let’s see how closely these two teams stick to their averages once they hit the Frozen Tundra. I’ll recap the final stats against my predictions on Tuesday.