By Zach Walker
Dallas Cowboys vs. Green Bay Packers
Sunday – January 11 – 12:05 pm CST
Lambeau Field – Green Bay
Who do the Cowboys need to shut down?
RB Eddie Lacy – If the Cowboys are to go to Green Bay and pull the win out of the hat, the defense is going to need to play big. Eddie Lacy had a very stealthy 1100 yard season with nine touchdowns. In the final eight games, in five of those games, Lacy averaged five yards or more per carry, and was only held below four yards per carry twice. Lacy isn’t just a bowling ball either, he had 42 catches out of the backfield, and in a lot of plays that I saw, right before the pressure gets to Aaron Rodgers, he’ll throw the checkdown to Lacy and he’ll gain some crucial yards. The plan goes for both teams, allow the carries to rack up but contain the yards. If the Cowboys are going to win, they cannot allow Lacy to run all over them, and if the defense starts like they did against the Lions and miss tackles, it’s going to be an uphill battle.
Who on the Cowboys, needs to step up?
WR Dez Bryant – If this Packers defense forces the ball into the air, Dez Bryant is going to have to bring his X game. Dez needs to force the door open for his quarterback to get him the ball. Not to say that the ball distribution during the Lions game was nothing more than spectacular. It’s not a bad thing to spread the ball to Cole Beasley, Jason Witten, or Terrence Williams, but if the Dez is running hot, it might just warm that frozen tundra. Dez flexed his Dez in the finale against Washington, and if Romo and Dez can play their game, they’ll likely be playing again next week.
Which group will give the Cowboys fits?
The Packers defense – Maybe they won’t give the Cowboys major problems, especially after just playing a bad to the bone Lions defense, but I feel people are over-looking the Packers D. As far as I know, the Packers operate with a base three-four defense, which the three-four has given the Cowboys’ fits all season long. Clay Matthews is supremely disruptive, and either Matthews or Julius Peppers is going to work against Jeremy Parnell, and that’s a chop licking matchup for either of them. Dom Capers is a schemer, and having seen what different look blitzes has done to the Cowboys, he’s going to have Packers flying in from different locations. While the Packers defense is just 23rd in the league against the run, that same defense is tenth in the league at defending the pass, so maybe the Packers just try and force the ball into the air, where they have forced 18 interceptions. The Packers have one of the more well-rounded secondary’s, if one takes production and youth into consideration, with Tramon Williams being the eldest statesman at just 31 years old. The Packers have defensive firepower, so let’s all not pretend like they don’t play defense.
Which group will give the Packers fits?
The Cowboys Desire – They call it “Fight” and the Cowboys five letter word means more to the Cowboys, than the five letters that Aaron Rodgers used to calm his nervous followers, those being “R-E-L-A-X”. The Cowboys fight and collective will has gotten them this far, and it won’t let them slide if the game gets adverse. The fight was within DeMarcus Lawrence, when he put himself in an adverse situation, his fight clinched the game. The Cowboys are going to get after Rodgers, and his partially torn calf muscle, and they are going to fight to keep themselves in the game. The Cowboys are on the cusp of somewhere they haven’t been since January 1996, when most of this team were just getting into grade school, and their youthful exuberance, as “Fight” can carry them forward.
What will it take for the Cowboys to win?
Keep the mentality. The world is seemingly brewing some good ole’ hatred of the Cowboys. Whether it’s public distain for the New Jersey Governor being in the owner’s box, the referees calls and non-calls (get over it), or the conspiracy of the league trying advance the Cowboys further in the playoffs, the controversies are back, and the important people are ignoring them, and that’s the coaches and players of the Dallas Cowboys. They know the task at hand, go on the road, and fight a team which was as good at home, as they were on the road, perfect. Like I stated, I think the Cowboys are smarter to think that and will prepare for a healthy Rodgers, and will take his health on the chin during the game. Let’s all just hope that the Cowboys only have to play against one team this Sunday, and not an overly sensitive team of refs.
Prediction: Dallas 31 – Green Bay 27. I still feel like a moron for now having the guts to go with my heart when the Cowboys played in Seattle, so I say they pull the upset, even though Rodgers has thrown 38 touchdowns to zero interceptions in his last 16 home games. But if the Cowboys don’t lose the turnover battle, they’ve got a big shot in this game.