When the Green Bay Packers host the New York Giants on Sunday, fans of the Dallas Cowboys will likely be very invested in the outcome. The winner heads to Texas; either a red-hot Packers team or the Giants who’ve already beaten Dallas twice this season. You will hear a lot of mixed opinion about which team Cowboys fans would rather see.
It could all be a moot point, though, based on another game Saturday night. The sixth-seeded Detroit Lions travel to face the Seattle Seahawks and, if they win, would send the Giants-Packers winner to Atlanta instead. As the lowest seed in the NFC playoffs, the Lions would automatically play the Cowboys in the second round.
There is no debating it; the Cowboys would be far better off hosting the Lions next weekend than either Green Bay or New York. There feels, perception-wise, like a firm line of demarcation exists between Detroit and the rest of the NFC playoff teams. They are not perceived as a contender, same as Washington or Tampa Bay would not have if they’d claimed the 6th seed.
Dallas will have recent experience with whoever they meet next weekend. They played both the Lions and Packers in 2016, and of course had their annual meetings with the Giants. The Cowboys’ last playoff appearances in 2014 also directly involved Detroit and Green Bay.
New York Giants
As we all painfully remember, the Giants swept the Cowboys during the regular season. They are the only team to beat Dallas in meaningful games this year. Giants fan will crow about this, as is their right, but the margin of victory was incredibly narrow.
In Week One, with Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott playing their first professional game, the Giants escaped Dallas with a 20-19 victory. Dallas had a chance to win the game at the end but a poor choice by Terrance Williams caused the clock to expire.
In Week 14, New York was just a field-goal better as they again beat Dallas, this time 10-7. Dak Prescott was frustrated more than any other point this season as the Giants’ defense starred, despite having just lost Jason Pierre-Paul.
Having to face the Giants again would excite some Dallas fans, who want to get revenge by bouncing them out of the playoffs. However, no team worries me more of the entire NFC field. It’s not that the Giants are better than the Atlanta Falcons or even the Packers, but the rivalry with Dallas would take a playoff meeting to a different level of intensity.
As I’ve said before, I want our young players to be focused on strategy and execution. The less risk of emotion getting in the way, the better for these Cowboys. The Giants are the team most likely to bring out the worst in Prescott, and therefore are the last team I want to see during these playoffs.
Green Bay Packers
Before they went on a six-game win streak and Aaron Rodgers caught fire, the Packers looked lost in a Week 6 meeting with the Cowboys at Lambeau Field. Five fumbles and an interception prevented them from ever finding an offensive rhythm. Ezekiel Elliott crushed Green Bay with 157 rushing yards and Dak Prescott had one of his most productive days with three touchdowns.
This victory was nice for Dallas fans but it didn’t come close to healing an old wound. The 2014 playoff loss in Green Bay, marred by controversy with the Dez Bryant “no catch” ruling, is arguably the most painful moment for Cowboys Nation of the last decade. They would love the opportunity for postseason revenge.
While I appreciate the storyline and the desire for payback, there’s a saying that “living well is the best revenge.” If the Cowboys can get to the Super Bowl, for me that will make up for every disappointment in recent memory.
Green Bay is good enough to beat the Cowboys. They’re arguably the hottest team going into the playoffs of the three we’ve mentioned, and they certainly have the best quarterback. I would love to avoid them if possible.
In Week 16, despite having already clinched the top seed in the NFC, Dallas played to win against the visiting Lions. Even with a few defensive starters resting, the Cowboys clearly looked like the better team. Detroit was outclassed on both sides of the ball.
Much like the aforementioned 2014 game with Dallas and Green Bay, the Wild Card game that year between the Lions and Cowboys has left fans with sore feelings. Lions fans blame a controversial no-call involving Anthony Hitchens and Brandon Pettigrew for helping Dallas win. They seem to forget Matthew Stafford’s two fumbles in the final drives, but that’s another topic.
Having lost their last three regular season games, Detroit is somewhat limping into these playoffs. They are the weakest team and the Cowboys handled business once before. It is, by far, the best match-up we could hope for.
So tonight, as Detroit looks to pull off the upset in Seattle, let’s all put on our temporary Lions fan hats and cheer them on!
So, who else is a temporary Detroit Lions fan tomorrow? #CowboysNation
Judging from the response to this tweet, I have a feeling you agree with me…