8:15 pm, NFL Network
Location: Texas Stadium, Irving, TX
NFC supremacy is on the line in this game. In a throwback to the old NFC playoff games of the mid to late 90s, the Packers and Cowboys will meet up to show football fans who is the better team of the NFC. Both teams are on a roll. The Packers one loss was against a divisional foe, the Chicago Bears in Week 5. The Cowboys only loss came at the hand of the undefeated New England Patriots back in Week 6. Between the two teams, they have combined for 11 straight wins. The Packers have won six straight while the Cowboys have won 5 straight.
Offensively, the Cowboys are ranked 2nd in total offense. They have the 11th ranked rushing offense and the 5th ranked passing offense. The Packers are ranked 3rd in total offense. They are ranked 2nd in passing and last in rushing.
Defensively, the Cowboys have the 7th ranked defense. They are ranked 11th against the rush and 21st against the pass. The Packers defense is ranked 12th in the league. The Packers are ranked 13th against the pass and 18th against the run.
The Packers needs their defense to step up and shut down the Cowboys offense the minute the clock starts. The Cowboys have a high-powered, high-octane offense that will hurt on the ground and the air. The Packers Secondary has to get their hands dirty and go toe to toe with the Cowboys WRs. That Packers O-line has to plug up the lanes the minute then ball is snapped and control the Cowboys two-headed rushing attack. They cant allow any lane to be open or the Cowboys RBs, Marion Barber and Julius Jones.
Offensively, the Packers seemed to have found a run game in RB Ryan Grant. Better late than never. In the last six games, Grant has had three games when he has rushed over 100 yards. His presence is needed in this game to wear down the Cowboys defense and open up the passing game for Brett Farve and the Packers WRs. Remember this; Favre is 0-8 when playing in Texas Stadium, if that has any bearing on determining the outcome.
The Cowboys have to go to their big guns early in the game. With the home field advantage, Texas Stadium is going to be live Thursday Night. The Packers have a solid Secondary with CBs Charles Woodson and Al Harrisleading the charge. The LBs for the Packers will have their hand full trying to contain the short pass with TE Jason Witten catching the ball. Look for both Witten and TE Anthony Fasano to get numerous short passes thrown to them in order to tire down the Packers defense.
The Cowboys defense has to take away Farves options at WR. Since the Packers running game is starting to slowly evolve, its still in the early stages of being productive. The Cowboys Secondary has to eliminate the Packers WRs from the flow of the offense and force the Packers to run the ball. The Cowboys also have to go after Farve throughout the game so that they can disrupt the offense since he is the main cog in the Packers offensive machine.
The Cowboys are more balanced on the offensive side of the ball than the Packers and defensively they have improved throughout the season. Although the Packers have been winning, they are still a one-sided team on offense until their run game matures. With balance of weapons on offense for the Cowboys, the Packers have their work cut out for them. The Cowboys will win, but it will be a close win
My Pick: Cowboys
Usually I start my picks with an opening, but with the tragic outcome from the shooting of Washington Redskins FS Sean Taylor, I felt a closing was better. After looking around in the Cheap Seats and reading what people wrote, I had written up a response for the R.I.P. Sean Taylor thread and decided to put it here instead:
It's sad to see anyone leave this earth the way Sean Taylor did, no matter what his or her situation may have been. You now have a set of parents who have to bury their son, a woman who has to bury the man she was prepared to spend the rest of her life with, and a child without their father. We as sport fans put our athletes on a pedestal as if they were Gods on Mt. Olympus. Today we realize that one god was just a mere mortal like you and I.
Our condolences to the family, friends and teammates of Sean Taylor. In Gods speed.