Red-hot Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers head to Dallas to face the top-seeded Cowboys in the NFC Playoffs on Sunday.
Rodgers led the way to the Packers seventh straight victory in a 38-13 thumping of the New York Giants Sunday evening at Lambeau Field in the Wildcard round.
The Packers signal-caller went 25 of 40 with four touchdowns including a miraculous Hail Mary to Randall Cobb to end the first half, and now has 19 touchdowns and no interceptions during the Green Bay win streak.
One of the key cogs in the Pack attack could be missing. Rodgers’ top target Jordy Nelson sustained two fractured ribs in the playoff win and will no try to practice until Saturday at the earliest.
The Packers will be facing a well-rested and healthy Cowboys team that hasn’t played in a meaningful game in four weeks. Dallas wrapped up home-field advantage for the NFC Playoffs in Week 16 of the regular season.
The last time these two teams squared off was week six of the regular season. The Cowboys rolled into Lambeau and captured a 30-16 victory on the shoulders of Ezekiel Elliott’s 157 rushing yards and quarterback Dak Prescott’s 247 yards passing and three touchdowns.
Dallas defensive back Brandon Carr thinks the mid-October victory will have very little impact on the playoff showdown.
“It’s a new ballgame. We’re ready for the challenge. You have an elite quarterback coming to town,” Carr told ESPN.com. “It’s the same story for us every week: execute our game plan, find ways to make plays.”
The key to moving on to the NFC Championship game will be if Elliott and the Dallas ground game can control the clock and keep Rodgers off of the field. The Cowboys have been burned in the playoffs before by Rodgers, as the hobbled QB pulled off a magic act two years ago in a 26-21 victory that ended the Cowboys’ season.
The Dallas defense knows how mobile Rodgers is now, and that holding his scrambling in check will be a key to victory.
“There’s no defense for that,” Cowboys’ defensive lineman David Irving told the Dallas Morning News. “No one can cover anybody that long. We not only have to rush and get pressure but we also have to do it in a smart way and keep him contained.”
Prediction Time: The Cowboys welcome the return of several key players back into the lineup, while the Packers still feel the effects of the game last Sunday. Rodgers keeps the Packers in the game, but the Dallas offense is too much for the depleted Green Bay defense. The Cowboys roll into the NFC Championship with a 34-24 victory.