By Zach Walker
Sunday – December 15 – 3:25 PM
AT&T Stadium – Arlington
I’m really trying to think which loss was worse, the Monday night loss to Chicago or the Sunday night loss to the Saints weeks ago. I’ll say the Bears loss hurt worse. The Cowboys aren’t on the same level as the Saints, they are a 1st round bye type team, the Cowboys are a playoffs or bust team. The Bears are a team that had a backup quarterback that looked like Elway against the league’s truly last place defense. The Cowboys had the game plan lined up for them with the weather conditions set in front of them and the Bears run defense, all they had to do was ride a wave of DeMarco Murray to victory. The Cowboys rode the wave to an opening possession touchdown because of Murray’s effectiveness. And then, as I had predicted, they didn’t stay with the run, even though Murray was rolling doubles on a lot of his runs. It was seriously impressive running, and really, some seriously impressive blocking. But I suppose he just wasn’t effective enough for the offense. The last offensive possession of the half for the Cowboys, was depressing, after a completion to Dez Bryant, then a timeout, then three straight incompletions, taking only eight seconds off the clock. The Bears would move the ball, use all three of their timeouts, and after their third timeout, Josh McCown put the ball in the back corner of the endzone and Alshon Jeffery made an amazing catch, an almost impossible catch for a touchdown, a soul crushing touchdown catch that put the Bears up 10 points just before the half ended. It must have completely deflated the Cowboys, because they wouldn’t score until the game was well out of hand. The Cowboys defense didn’t force a single punt, the Bears scored at will, they moved the ball without opposition, they were impossibly flat.
Good news for the Cowboys, Aaron Rodgers isn’t playing and Eddie Lacy isn’t 100%. The bad news, this means the Cowboys are going to be burned by another backup quarterback. The Packers scrapped to win against the Falcons, which is a sign of where the Packers are without Aaron Rodgers. Since Rodgers went down against the Bears, the Packers are 1-3-1. They’ve leaned heavily on the run game, and Eddie Lacy likes the dagger through the middle of the defense, and he’s underrated in the passing game as a pass catcher. The defense for the Packers is far from being the best at stopping teams from gaining yards, but they are 6th in the league at getting to the opposing quarterback. The Packers have some very difficult receivers to cover; James Jones and Jordy Nelson are very dependable options to bail Flynn out of tight jams.
The Cowboys need to keep at this successful running game going against the Packers 25th ranked rush defense, but will they? That’s like trying to predict how long an 8 year old will stay entertained with his toys, all looks like it’s going well, then boom, not good enough anymore. Romo has been sharp over the last couple of games, and is looking at returning to form against the Pack. Realistically, the Cowboys can win this game, even without Sean Lee, just as long as they don’t beat themselves with stupid penalties and busted coverages. Maybe, during the game, when the run game is working, sticking to it. But that’s just me, I would have run Murray until his cleats were steaming against the Bears, and I’d do much of the same against the Packers. I’ve mentioned the run game a lot, that’s because it’s working. DeMarco Murray has 65 carries, 384 yards, and 3 touchdowns over the last four games, in other words he’s stuck on stallion mode. As far as the defense, they just have to play the game, and take each play at a time and try and get some great 2nd down stops, and force some difficult 3rd downs. Getting Nelson and James Jones covered is going to be a task, and Jarrett Boykin on the inside is the head-scratcher of the gameplanning. Getting pressure on the Packers is going to be available, but the Cowboys defensive front has been about a second late getting to the quarterback, for the last couple of games.
Matchup of the Game
Green Bay receiver Jordy Nelson vs Dallas cornerback Brandon Carr
Carr has not been the same player since the Detroit game, and could really use a victory. That victory is going to have to be earned against Jordy Nelson, one of the league’s more underrated receivers.
Three other matchups to watch for
GB CB Sam Shields vs DAL WR Dez Bryant
GB LB Clay Matthews vs DAL LT Tyron Smith
GB LB AJ Hawk vs DAL RB DeMarco Murray
Prediction: Green Bay 24 – Dallas 31: Being home helps, but the defense is still there too…