Green Bay (11-6) at Dallas (13-3)
When: Sunday, January 15th 2017
Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX
Time: 4:40 ET | TV: FOX
The streaking Green Bay Packers meet the well-rested Dallas Cowboys in an NFC Divisional Playoff game on Sunday afternoon at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The Packers have come all the way back from a dismal four-game losing streak earlier in the season and have reeled off seven straight victories including last week’s 38-13 thumping of the New York Giants in the NFC Wild Card game. Aaron Rodgers threw for 362 yards and four touchdowns – three of them to wide receiver Randall Cobb – in the victory over the Giants last Sunday. The Packers remain confident facing Dallas’ 26th-ranked pass defense despite potentially playing without trusted wide receiver Jordy Nelson (NFL-leading 14 receiving TDs), who sustained a rib injury early in the Wild Card contest last week. Davante Adams set career highs with 75 catches, 997 yards and 12 touchdowns this season and had seven receptions for 117 yards and a score in a postseason win over Dallas two years ago. Cobb made eight catches for 116 yards in that playoff game versus the Cowboys. WR/RB Ty Montgomery, who is nursing an ankle injury, made 10 catches for 98 yards in the initial meeting with the Cowboys back on October 16th. The Packers average 27 points a game this season, but have scored 30 or more in five straight games. The defense, which was gashed for 153 points in the four game losing streak, has steadily improved since.
The Cowboys throttled the Packers back in Week 6 in the middle of their 11-game winning streak that propelled them to the NFC East title and top seed in the playoffs. The Cowboys limited their stars in a Week 17 loss at Philadelphia and after a bye last week, have a lot of pressure at home led by two rookie sensations getting their first taste of the postseason. Quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott have been unstoppable all season including the 30-16 win at Green Bay in October. Prescott threw for three touchdowns while Elliott gashed the Packers’ then top-ranked rush defense for 157 yards in the win. Those two have taken the pressure off star receiver Dez Bryant this season and the former Pro-Bowler still thinks about the playoff game in Green Bay two years ago, when a reception late in the game was overturned on replay, stopping Dallas’ comeback attempt. Wideout Cole Beasley recorded a team-high six receptions and two touchdowns in the first meeting with Green Bay but has found the end zone just twice in his last 10 games. Linebacker Sean Lee recorded an NFL third-best and career-high 145 tackles this season, with a team-leading 13 coming in the first game versus Green Bay.
I have to take experience over rookies in most preseason games and this is no exception. Prescott and Elliott will have their moments, but Rodgers is going to take over this game against a poor Dallas secondary and lead the Packers one step closer to the Super Bowl.
Pick: Packers +4.5