By Shawn Lealos
The Dallas Cowboys went into their Monday Night Football game with the Chicago Bears with the NFC East lead. Facing a backup quarterback and banged up defense, it looked like Dallas had the advantage, but the Bears blew them out behind their backup quarterback Josh McCown. Now, one game back from the Philadelphia Eagles but still with their destiny in their own hands, Dallas faces another backup quarterback from the NFC North in Matt Flynn and the Green Bay Packers.
While Aaron Rodgers’ availability for the team’s game with the Cowboys is still officially in question, there is little chance of the All-Pro returning at this time. However, Flynn did lead the Packers to a big win last week over the Atlanta Falcons with easily his best game of the season.
The last thing that Dallas needs is to meet another backup quarterback playing at his best. While Flynn has been a complete flop over the last two seasons, dropped by the Seattle Seahawks and Oakland Raiders before returning to Green Bay, it might be hard to forget his start in the season finale for Green Bay in 2011, where he threw for 480 yards and six touchdowns to break records as the Packers trounced their division rival Detroit Lions.
Flynn is also working with a wide receiver corps that has been riddled with injuries all season, but is starting to heal up. Jordy Nelson is still a major star in Green Bay and got back on track last week with four receptions for 85 yards after being mostly quiet since Rodgers’ injury. Randall Cobb will miss another game, but James Jones and Jarrett Boykin are both in the mix against the questionable Dallas secondary.
Eddie Lacy has established himself as the unquestioned started at running back. In his rookie season, Lacy has run for 887 yards and seven touchdowns and has become a workhorse back for Green Bay. The Packers can also catch passes out of the backfield, something Dallas has had trouble stopping the past few weeks.
If Flynn plays like he did last week against the Atlanta Falcons, Dallas will need to play better on offense and, luckily, Dallas will come back home for the game and not have to play a second consecutive road game in the frozen tundras of the north. Dallas is 5-1 at home this season, with its only loss coming at the hands of the high-powered Denver Broncos offense.
It helps that the Packers defense is almost as bad as Dallas’, ranking 21st against the pass and 25th against the run. Two weeks ago, the Detroit Lions combined for 241 rushing yards, and with DeMarco Murray having the best game of the season in the loss to the Bears, he could be in for another big game. That same Lions game, Matthew Stafford threw for 330 yards and three touchdowns, so if this is a shootout, the advantage might be in the corner of the Cowboys.
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Shawn S. Lealos is a freelance writer who graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2000 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He writes for a variety of national publications and has over 15 years of sports journalism experience. Follow Shawn on Twitter @sslealos. Examiner.com.