By Shawn Lealos
The Dallas Cowboys beat the Detroit Lions, 24-20, amidst controversy and a clutch play at the end of the game. Now, the Cowboys have to travel north to battle the team that beat the Lions the week before. The Dallas Cowboys battle the Green Bay Packers on Sunday with a kickoff time of 1:05 p.m. EST in the divisional playoff round. Here is a look at the Green Bay Packers heading into this big game.
The Dallas Cowboys gave up 323 passing yards to Matthew Stafford and now get to face an even better quarterback in Aaron Rodgers. The game will feature the top two ranked quarterbacks in the NFL when it comes to passer rating in the game, as Romo finished the regular season with 113.2 and Rodgers was slightly behind him at 112.2.
Comparing the numbers shows very similar quarterbacks. Romo had a higher completion percentage at 69.9, while Rodgers was slightly behind at 65.6. Rodgers threw for more yards, with 4,381 compared to Romo’s 3,705, but Romo also played with the NFL’s rushing leader. Rodgers threw 38 touchdowns with only five interceptions while Romo threw 34 touchdowns with nine interceptions.
They key to the Packers winning this game is to throw the ball hard at the Cowboys’ suspect secondary. There might not be a better quarterback in the NFL to do that than Aaron Rodgers. With Dallas ranking eighth in the NFL against the run, Rodgers is who will have to step up if the Packers want to win this game.
The one area that has held the Green Bay Packers back over the past few years is their defense. This season, the Packers rank 15th in total defense, which is better than the Cowboys, but rank a low 23rd in the NFL against the run. That is where the Packers will have to really buckle down. Through the regular season, Green Bay gave up an average of 119.9 yards a game to opposing teams, although they only gave up 11 rushing touchdowns on the season.
DeMarco Murray finished the regular season as the NFL’s leading rusher, with 1,845 yards and also finished tied with Marshawn Lynch for the NFL lead in rushing touchdowns with 13. The Detroit Lions came into the playoffs with the NFL’s leading rushing defense and Murray still ran for 75 yards against them. If the Packers can’t stop Murray, the Cowboys will control the clock and Rodgers will have less time to work his magic.
The Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers have a storied history and the fact that this game takes place at Lambeau Field in January brings back more memories. Dallas and Green Bay have played six times in the postseason. Green Bay won the first two times and went to the Super Bowl each year. The second time was the infamous Ice Bowl.
Then, Dallas picked up their first playoff win over the Packers in 1982 and then beat them three times in 1993, 1994 and 1995, the Cowboys winning the Super Bowl in two of those final three seasons. The Cowboys hold the victory margin over the Packers, 4-2, and have won the last four meetings between the two teams in the postseason. This is, however, the first time since the Ice Bowl that the playoffs for Dallas have gone to Lambeau Field.
The fact that it is at Lambeau Field is also interesting. In 2014, the Green Bay Packers were undefeated at home, while the Dallas Cowboys never lost a game on the road. Aaron Rodgers never threw an interception at home while Tony Romo only threw two in road games. This will possibly be the game of the weekend and both teams head in believing they can win.
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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.