Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thoughts on Packers/Cowboys

This is the first time since 1990 that two teams 10-1 or better have met in the regular season, so I have to get a few thoughts down about the Packers/Cowboys game.

It really surprises me that so many people aren't giving Green Bay a chance in this game. Maybe it shouldn't surprise me, since the media is so in love with Dallas and some people still think that Green Bay can't run the ball (Grant has 3 100 yard games and an 88 yard game in his 5 starts--he now has more 100 yard games in his career than Cedric Benson, which is kind of funny even if it isn't saying much).

For me, and I do realize that I'm a homer, I like Green Bay's chances just because I think they match up really well with Dallas. Maybe tonight's not the night due to the injuries to Woodson, Jolly, KGB, Rouse, Collins and Franks (especially Woodson) but I like how we match up (and many of these reasons are why I think GB matches up with New England as well as any team in the league).

Dallas is effective running the ball because they can pound you with Jones and then bring in Barber once the defense is softened up. Green Bay has a very deep rotation on the defensive line so I don't think they'll get as worn out as normal teams.

They've got the cover guys to neutralize Owens and Crayton as well as you possibly can, and their ability to get to the quarterback just by rushing 4 will let them drop a lot of guys into coverage.

The weakness of the Cowboys defense is their secondary. Roy Williams and Ken Hamlin simply aren't that good in coverage. The Packers have the personnel to exploit that with their Big 5 set (Driver, Jennings, Jones, Robinson, Martin). Donald Lee has the speed to stretch the field and you have to believe that's another guy they'll be looking to tonight against Roy Williams. When Bubba Franks comes back, that also opens the door for the 3 WR/2 TE set that was so effective earlier this season.

The one matchup that Dallas has which really worries me is with Jason Witten. Green Bay has only allowed one WR to crack the 100 yard mark this year, but three tight ends have turned the trick against them. They've struggled for the past couple of seasons with covering TEs, particularly good ones, which Witten is. Rouse is a guy I'd love to have in the lineup tonight against him, but he's probably not playing. They'll have to use Hawk and Bigby in coverage, which isn't the strength of either player.

This game is for homefield advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. The winning team goes a game up in the win column and takes the tie-breaker, which means that for the losing to team to still have a shot at HFA, the other team would have to split their remaining 4 games. Dallas is at Detroit, has Philly at home, and then goes to Carolina and Washington. The Packers have Oakland at home, are on the road against Chicago and St. Louis, then finish with Detroit at home. I don't see either team dropping two games, so tonight is going to decide the #1 seed.

Things I expect to see tonight:
-Brett Favre throwing the ball 40-45 times to exploit mismatches in the Dallas secondary (this is the biggest advantage either team has in this game)
-Jason Witten with 100+ yards
-A big night for Greg Jennings, not so much for Donald Driver (who should have Newman on him)

If Woodson is healthy enough to be effective, I like the Packers. If he's not, then the Cowboys take this one. But either way, I'll like our chances in a rematch.

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