By Shawn Lealos
The Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys have a storied past. In the ’60s, the Packers were the best team in the NFL and in the ’70s, the Cowboys climbed to the top while the Packers fell back. In the ’90s, Brett Favre and Troy Aikman jockeyed for position as the leaders of two of the top teams of that era. More recently in 2015, the Packers eliminated the Cowboys from their last playoff appearance thanks in part to a controversial “no-catch” call involving Dez Bryant. This season, Dallas beat the Packers in Week 6, although the Packers were slumping early on in the season.
In what might be one of the top playoff games this weekend, here is a look at the Green Bay Packers heading into their battle against the Dallas Cowboys this Sunday at AT&T Stadium.
Green Bay Packers Season Record
The Green Bay Packers finished the season with a 10-6 record and then beat the red-hot New York Giants to start the playoffs. The Packers actually started the season with a 4-6 record before Aaron Rodgers talked about running the table. Since that time, the Packers have now won seven straight games and hope to continue that momentum heading into a rematch with the Dallas Cowboys, a team that beat them 30-16 on Oct. 17.
Green Bay Packers On Offense
The Packers are led by Aaron Rodgers. In the loss to the Cowboys back in October, Rodgers threw for 294 yards but only had one touchdown and threw an interception in the game. The Packers only scored six points in the first three quarters of the game. However, during their current seven-game winning streak, Rodgers has thrown 19 touchdowns and no interceptions and has almost willed his Packers into the playoffs.
The biggest offensive weapon for the Packers in their loss to the Cowboys was running back Ty Montgomery, who led the team in receiving with 10 catches for 98 yards. Since then, Jordy Nelson has roared back to life as the key receiver on the offensive side of the ball. During the six-game winning streak to end the regular season, Nelson had 44 receptions for 594 yards and five touchdowns. However, Nelson reportedly fractured two ribs in the playoff game against the Giants and might miss this week’s Cowboys’ game.
Green Bay Packers On Defense
The biggest reason that the Dallas Cowboys beat Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in October was because of their running game. Through the season, Dallas was second-best in the NFL in time of possession, with 31:54 per game and in rushing yards at 149.8 yards per game. Against the Packers, Ezekiel Elliott controlled the clock while carrying the ball 28 times for 157 yards. Green Bay ranks eighth in the NFL against the run, but Dallas has proven it can run against them.
However, Green Bay ranks 22nd in the NFL in total defense because of a passing defense that ranks at the bottom of the NFL, only above the New Orleans Saints. With Dez Bryant heating up at the end of the season, it might be time for him to find some revenge for the last Cowboys’ playoff loss to these Packers.
Green Bay Packers Players To Watch
Aaron Rodgers – There is one man on the Green Bay Packers team that can put the entire squad on his back and carry them to victory. Against a strong New York Giants defense, Aaron Rodgers threw for 362 yards with four touchdowns and a 125.2 rating. That is good enough to beat anyone in the NFL.
Julius Peppers – This is not the same dominating Julius Peppers that terrorized quarterbacks for most of his career. However, he has big game experience and finished the regular season with 7.5 sacks, while picking up one more against the Giants. Peppers also recorded two knockdowns of Eli Manning in that wild card playoff game. For the Packers to win, they need to take Dak Prescott out of his game and Peppers is someone who is highly qualified for that job.
This is going to be a huge game. The last time these teams played in the postseason, the Green Bay Packers beat the Cowboys and many Dallas fans felt the team could have rallied if referees had not overruled a Dez Bryant catch in the fourth quarter that would have put the team in striking distance. The Cowboys have beaten the Packers once this season, but this is a very different Packers team. If Jordy Nelson doesn’t play, Dallas should win, but this won’t be the blowout the earlier game ended up being.