Game Predictions & Player Projections - GB vs. DAL

David Dorey, @DMDorey

Prediction: GB 24, DAL 30 (Line: DAL by 4, O/U = 52)

UPDATE: Jordy Nelson is out as expected. James Starks is still out with his concussion as well.

This is the late game on Sunday for a good reason - it should be the most closely followed and offer the best chance for some fireworks. The Cowboys already won 30-16 in Green Bay in Week 6 but the Packers have won their last six games and have the look of a team peaking at just the right time. The Cowboys are 7-1 at home and won their last seven there. The Packers are 4-4 on the road. This offers an interesting pairing - the Cowboys are clearly this year's Cinderella team but have zero experience in the playoffs among the more notable players. The Packers have all the experience and the league MVP at quarterback instead of a rookie. The venue is a major advantage for the Cowboys but Aaron Rodgers is almost single-handedly bringing the Packers into the playoffs.

This game offers the best chance for back-and-forth affair not decided until the final play.

Green Bay Packers

1 @JAC 27-23 10 @TEN 25-47
2 @MIN 14-17 11 @WAS 24-42
3 DET 34-27 12 @PHI 27-13
4 BYE --- 13 HOU 21-13
5 NYG 23-16 14 SEA 38-10
6 DAL 16-30 15 @CHI 30-27
7 CHI 26-10 16 MIN 38-25
8 @ATL 32-33 17 @DET 31-24
9 IND 26-31      
News | Statistics | Roster
GB vs NYG Rush Catch Pass
QB Aaron Rodgers 10 330,3
RB Christine Michael 30
RB Ty Montgomery 30 5-40
WR Davante Adams 6-90,1
WR Geronimo Allison 3-40
WR Randall Cobb 5-80,1
TE Jared Cook 6-80,1
PK Mason Crosby 1 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Packers will miss Jordy Nelson which is not a positive but Randall Cobb blew up on the Giants vaunted secondary. There is still only a meager rushing attack and what will be a possible issue is a defense that has played much better at home than on the road. But the Packers have the mojo working in their favor so far and this could be one of those "throw out past results" sort of games.

QUARTERBACK : Aaron Rodgers was limited to one of his few one-score games when he passed for 294 yards on the Cowboys in Week 6. Rodgers has been on fire in recent weeks with over 300 yards and four touchdowns in each of the last three games. Two of those were against divisional rivals but last week he threw for 362 yards and four scores on the Giants. Rodgers is getting minimal support from the running backs and it has just not mattered in recent weeks.

RUNNING BACK : Eddie Lacy ran for 65 yards on 17 carries in Week 6 for his last game of the year. Ty Montgomery has since become the primary back but has been less effective with only one game over 45 rushing yards in the last nine weeks and around three receptions per week for only marginal yardage. Christine Michael will play against one of his old teams but has not been a factor.

WIDE RECEIVER : Jordy Nelson fractured two ribs and was even hospitalized after the win over the Giants. He caught five passes for 68 yards versus the Cowboys but then caught fire in the second half of the year. His 14 touchdowns leads the team and he will be missed. Randall Cobb caught seven passes for 53 yards and a score in the previous meeting with the Cowboys while Davante Adams was held to only 34 yards on two catches. Adams has 13 scores on the year though and notched four touchdowns over the last three games. He has tended to have lesser games on the road but his role will be expanded with Nelson sidelined.

Geronimo Allison will step up this week as the slot receiver but he's only had two games of any note this year. Cobb, Adams and Allison are going to need to continue to make a difference..

TIGHT END : Jared Cook was out in Week 6 and Richard Rogers only accounted for two catches for 15 yards. Cook is a bigger factor for the last month with four or five catches per week but he still has not scored since Week 11 when he has his only touchdown.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Cowboys best corner of Morris Claiborne is expected back after missing most of the season with a torn groin muscle but he's unlikely to jump back into heavy use in his first game back. The Cowboys are very good against the run and already held the Packers backs scoreless in Green Bay. There's no reason to expect a big game from any of them though Montgomery could see a heavier workload as a receiver.

Rodgers was surprisingly limited in Green Bay and has been on a hot streak. He should remain good for 300 yards and at least two or three scores. He could do more - he has for the last three weeks. But this is on the road against a rested Cowboys team that already faced him once.

Cooks is an interesting play against one of the worst defenses versus tight ends. He needs to come up with a good game here and will be in a good situation for at least good to very good production.

Both Cobb and Adams are going to get a high volume of targets. The Cowboys will seek to run the ball and control the clock to the extent possible but Adams and Cobb should both be a lock for higher catches and yards this time.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points GB 1 26 1 26 14 16
Preventing Fantasy Points DAL 17 6 14 32 7 4

Dallas Cowboys

1 NYG 19-20 10 @PIT 35-30
2 @WAS 27-23 11 BAL 27-17
3 CHI 31-17 12 WAS 31-26
4 @SF 24-17 13 @MIN 17-15
5 CIN 28-14 14 @NYG 7-10
6 @GB 30-16 15 TB 26-20
7 BYE --- 16 DET 42-21
8 PHI 29-23 17 @PHI 13-27
9 @CLE 35-10      
News | Statistics | Roster
GB at DAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Dak Prescott 10 260,2
RB Ezekiel Elliott 120,1 2-10
WR Dez Bryant 5-90,1
WR Terrance Williams 4-50
WR Cole Beasley 6-60,1
TE Jason Witten 3-30
PK Dan Bailey 3 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Cowboys come off their Round 1 bye rested and healthy. They have not lost outside of their division so far and scored at least 26 points in each of the last seven home games. This is when all the success of the season comes down to more than talent and preparation. The playoffs will be a new test for the two main rookies who have never played as many football games in one season. But Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott have been so off-the-charts good that even facing the Packers may not phase them. They already best them once and they are at home this time.

QUARTERBACK : Dak Prescott passed for 247 yards and three scores in Green Bay this year though he threw his first interception there and lost a fumble. Prescott has scored in every home game since the season opener but has been mostly pedestrian in passing yardage thanks to the dominating rushing offense. When the Cowboys faced their two best scoring opponents - the Packers and Steelers - both were on the road and Prescott ended with high yardage and two or three touchdowns.

RUNNING BACK : Ezekiel Elliott ran for 157 yards on 28 carries against what was then the #1 rushing defense in the NFL when they played in Green Bay. Elliott not only rushed for seven 100 yard games, he's produced around 100 total yards or more in nearly every week. He scored 16 times and totals five touchdowns over the last three home games.

WIDE RECEIVER : Dez Bryant was out in Week 6 but Cole Beasley (6-58, 2 TD) and Brice Butler (1-20, TD) both scored while Terrance Williams ended with 75 yards on four catches for one of his best efforts on the year. Bryant is back this time and looking to avenge the called incompletion in the endzone in Green Bay during the playoffs in 2014. Bryant has not topped 85 yards since Week 10 though he scored five times in the last six games played and usually turns in around 70 yards. Beasley has been less productive in recent weeks mainly because Elliott has rushed so well that possession catches over the middle have not been as critical.

TIGHT END : Jason Witten caught four passes for 42 yards in Green Bay this year which has been roughly his standard game. He scored just once in the last seven weeks and rarely breaks 50 yards.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Packers rushing defense has been less effective in road games and allowed three rusher to top 90 yards against them. There is no pretense here - the Cowboys are going to run Elliott as much as they possibly can in the hopes they can control the game and keep Rodgers off the field. And the Packers are going to try to score fast to force the Cowboys to pass.

The difference this time around is that the Cowboys are at home and Dez Bryant will be playing. That won't necessarily keep them from succumbing to the pressure of the playoffs or the wizardry that is Aaron Rodgers. But the Packers always allow two or three passing scores in road games along with very healthy yardage. Losing to the Packers in their last playoff appearance will help keep the team more grounded.

Bryant and Elliott will be keys but Prescott already had success against them in Green Bay using just Beasley, Butler and Williams.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DAL 9 8 17 19 10 26
Preventing Fantasy Points GB 31 5 32 20 22 14

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