Early Bird Breakdown Week 6 – Cowboys @ Packers
Hello and welcome back to Early Bird Breakdown for week six of the regular season for the Packers. Before diving into the game, let’s look at the recap from last week.
Last week on Sunday Night Football, Green Bay’s defense locked down the Giants and the Packers offense did enough despite a couple interceptions by Aaron Rodgers to win 23-16. The Packers passing offense had some miss-queues but the rushing attack was strong until running back Eddie Lacy got banged up near the end. Defensively, the Packers surprisingly staunch run defense continues to dominate, though this week is their toughest challenge by far.
Packers’ Offense vs Cowboys’ Defense:
The Packers continue to have difficulties on offense, but still find ways to get it done. This week, they play a defense that is virtually identical to the Giants, giving up one fewer pass yard and one fewer rush yard a game than the Giants. So, the Packers are going to have to cut down on the mistakes from the previous week or they may be in for another tough week moving the ball.
Rodgers threw two picks last week, one of which was on him but the other was off the hands of Jordy Nelson. Rodgers & Nelson still aren’t quite on track, and Nelson is not the deep threat he used to be. The Packers will need a better gameplan regarding their air offense, as the ground game may be non-existent from injuries.
As of this time, Eddie Lacy is questionable and a coin flip whether he will be able to even play. James Starks is officially out. Fullback Aaron Ripkowski is the only other available running back on Green Bay’s active roster. Due to this, the Packers may use their wide outs at running back, specifically Randall Cobb.
Packers’ Defense vs Cowboys’ Offense:
The most interesting matchup this weekend is the collision of the league’s best rushing attack in Dallas and the league’s best run defense in Green Bay. Star defensive lineman Mike Daniels and improved play from the linebackers has turned the Packers’ front seven into a formidable force and will be called upon to win this game for the Packers. Green Bay is giving up an absurd 42.8 yards per game on the ground, with most teams abandoning it early to throw on an injured secondary. However, Dallas is not likely to abandon the run, as their whole team flows through it. Their defense plays as well as they have because the offense is able to keep them on the sidelines rested as they run the clock. They have the best offensive line in the league, an electric rookie running back in Ezekiel Elliot who is leading the league in rushing, and the surprisingly good rookie quarterback Dak Prescott.
Dak Prescott is another dangerous runner for Dallas but his real strength is he has not turned the ball over yet. He now has the longest stretch ever to start a career without an interception in NFL history. He will get a break as once again the Packers top corner Sam Shields is out and Damarious Randall is questionable again. However, it is up in the air whether star receiver Dez Bryant will play. If Bryant suits up, Green Bay will have trouble covering him as well as focusing on containing the run. Clay Matthews and company will have a tough challenge bringing the illusive Prescott down for sacks this week, and that will play a large factor in how Dallas moves the ball.
Lambeau expects to be around 64 degrees and clear at kickoff with no expected rain.
The Packers will be in a really tough spot if Dez Bryant is healthy for Dallas and Eddie Lacy cannot play. If both teams are without their key offensive weapon, then we will have a low scoring game that will be up to the Packers’ defense to once again contain the run against the league’s best rushing team. I think early Green Bay will be able to slow the run and keep it close, but in the second half running lanes will open up for them. If Green Bay was fully healthy, I think their offensive balance could keep Dallas’ defense on the field which should in turn keep their defense rested enough to contain Dallas’ offense. However, if Lacy cannot go the offense is going to struggle. Combine that with Dallas running so much that the clock will be constantly moving there will be fewer drives & chances to score. Assuming that even if Lacy plays I think he will not be close to 100%. Green Bay will score early but the defense finally gives up a 100 yard rushing game and the Packers do not put up enough points to put the Cowboys away. Dallas wins 23-17.As always, go Pack go! Stu Weis -Journalism graduate 2012, Carroll University