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NFC Divisional Round Preview: Packers Versus Cowboys

NFC Divisional Round Preview NFL MEDIA


Cowboys’ Rushing Ability Will Be Key Versus Packers

The first opponent for the Dallas Cowboys in the 2016 NFL postseason has been finalized. With a victory over the New York Giants in Green Bay, the Packers will move on to battle the Cowboys. The rushing ability of both teams will play a vital role in the outcome. One side has struggled much of the season to establish a lethal ground attack. The other has thrived on a running game. After meeting earlier in the season, both teams look very different and will approach this meeting with even more intensity.

The Packers put a beat down on the Giants in the second half of their Wildcard match up. However, it was extremely costly. Jordy Nelson suffered an apparent rib and hip injury after he sustained a vicious hit early in the game. Nelson has been one of Rodgers‘ favorite target over the last few years and he’s a deadly weapon to account for. The Packers are obviously hoping he can make a full recovery and will be prepared to play in Dallas next week.

Now I don’t only bring this up because of how it can effect the passing game. Without Nelson in the lineup, the Packers‘ rushing ability will suffer as well. From a defensive standpoint, when an offense is without one of their top weapons, the defensive front seven can supply more attention to the backfield. The Packers have struggled mightily all season in the running game, if they can’t get anything going on the ground they will once again have to rely the arm of Aaron Rodgers.

The Cowboys will have their hands full regardless if Nelson can play or if the Packers can establish a decent rushing attack. Aaron Rodgers consistently gets hot and in rhythm in meaningful games. Once he gets going and gets some easy completions to his guys, they are the toughest offense in the league to stop. Luckily for Dallas, they will finally have their defense healthy and intact.

The Cowboys‘ secondary will finally have each starter from the secondary active together. Barry Church, J.J. Wilcox, Byron Jones, Morris Claiborne, Brandon Carr, Orlando Scandrick, and Anthony Brown will all be good to go next Sunday. They are a unit that can play well and sound together. With David Irving and Sean Lee making plays up front, there’s a little bit a pressure relieved from the suspect Dallas secondary. Claiborne, when healthy this season, has played like a true lock down corner and the first round bye certainly helped. They will be ready to battle against Rodgers and the Packer receivers.

As a fan, supporter, and writer for the Cowboys, I see little reason to worry about this week. The Cowboys have the league’s best defense for Aaron Rodgers. They have the best rushing offense in the NFL and they displayed it to perfection against the Packers earlier in the season. Ezekiel Elliott gained 157 yards off of 28 carries that game in Green Bay. Dallas has the ability to essentially play keep away with how they play offense. Lengthy drives tire out defenses and keep the opposing team’s quarterback standing on the sideline.

I’m aware it sounds simple, but the game plan for the Cowboys has to be to continuously feed Elliott. He and that monstrous offensive line are the key to winning this game. There will be nerves among the rookies as it’s their first playoff game as a pro. Dak Prescott simply needs to read the defense and trust in Elliott to make some plays.

It’s great to have play makers in Dez Bryant and Jason Witten. But the best way to slow a game down and hide a below average defense is to utilize a strong rushing attack. The Cowboys have ran the ball on every single opponent they’ve faced with ease. The Packers are a soft defense and they don’t have the answer to stop Elliott and Prescott.

With all the weapons that Dallas possesses on offense, it’l be interesting to see how the Packers line up on defense. They didn’t see Bryant earlier this season as he sat out with a knee injury. If they buy into stopping Elliott and the Cowboys‘ ability to run the ball, they are taking a huge gamble. Leaving Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, and Cole Beasley with one-on-one coverage is very dangerous. I’d expect them to give them some respect unless Elliott is just gashing them at the line of scrimmage.

The Packers and Cowboys will play next Sunday in the NFC Divisional Round at 4:40 ET. in Dallas.