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Cowboys vs Packers Game Picks, ITS Staff Notes

Bryson Treece

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Cowboys vs Packers Game Picks, ITS Staff Notes

Your 2-2 Dallas Cowboys host the 3-1 Green Bay Packers Sunday at 3:25 CDT, and it feels as if the Cowboys’ entire season hinges on this one NFC game. There’s certainly precedent as the Packers have made a habit of sending the Cowboys home early the last three years, but this isn’t the post-season. The Cowboys will survive the Packers and enjoy a week off afterward.

Perhaps the best thing about this week is that it’s followed by a bye week for Dallas. The team is in growing need of some time off for injuries to heal.

Left tackle Tyron Smith has been added to the injury report with a sore back—an area of concern for him last season as well—and while it looks as though he’ll be ready to play Sunday, the same can’t be said for Sean Lee.

The Cowboys defense looked flat against the Rams in Lee’s absence. Though the team struggled in almost every area of the defense last week, Lee’s sure tackling and quickness to the ball was sorely missed.

While listed as questionable on the team's injury report Friday, I suspect Sean Lee will be held out of this game in order to give his hamstring time to heal fully through the bye week.

The Packers aren’t without injuries off their own, as Davante Adams is questionable after a brutal blow to the head against NFC North division rivals, the Chicago Bears in week three. Additionally, the team’s primary running back—a wide receiver turned running back last season—Ty Montgomery is listed as doubtful this week.

On offense, the Cowboys are mostly whole. The battle for left guard is still brewing between Chaz Green and Jonathan Cooper, and that adds instability to what should be the best offensive line in the NFL. Hopefully, these guys find a rhythm, and fast.

Dak Prescott left many fans groaning about missed opportunities last week, and really, this whole season. His accuracy has come into question and like never before too. Head coach Jason Garrett said in a presser this week that Dak’s accuracy isn’t a concern. He said every throw is different and that they are reviewing each situation independently to address the issues.

Ezekiel Elliott has improved since his 8-yard outing in Denver, but still lacks the consistency we enjoyed in 2016. It’s tough to filter the offensive line’s issues from Elliott’s, but it seems like he could be more involved in the game plan.

Running backs in the NFL are increasingly relied on in the passing game and there’s merit to the argument that Zeke doesn’t get enough targets. He’s our most dangerous weapon with the ball in his hands, after all, so why not work harder to get him the ball in space and let him do his thing?

A nice side benefit of Elliott catching more passes is added dimension, giving opposing defenses more pre-snap confusion.

The Cowboys have slowly started to utilize rookie wide out Ryan Switzer of late, but his lone target through the air was flagged as defensive pass interference, against Denver. Instead, he’s begun to take over plays previously run by Lucky Whitehead, and had marginal success so far.

Cole Beasley is another player who fans are desperate to see more involved. After leading the team in 2016, he’s all but been phased out in 2017. Cole recorded his lowest numbers of the year in weeks three and four with one for four yards and three for 17 yards, respectively. This is down from seven catches for 65 yards the first two weeks.

In 2016, Cole never recorded less than two catches in a game, and that was only in week 13 against the Vikings.

Beasley is a game-changer when he’s getting targets and must be included more in the passing game. Against Green Bay in week six last season, Beasley hauled in six passes for 58 yards and two touchdowns.

Jason Witten has also been underutilized these last two weeks. Through week two, Witten had 17 catches for 156 yards and scored two touchdowns. But since then, he has just two receptions, 12 yards, and no scores.

It’s fair to say that this team just hasn’t been the same since being routed by the Broncos.

In some ways that’s a good thing.

We all saw the Cowboys basically abandon their running game against the Broncos; they just weren’t able to move the ball on the ground. But after Prescott threw the ball 50 times in week two alone, he’s only thrown the ball 54 times in the two weeks since. His passer rating has been higher the last two weeks, and his completion percentage has climbed slightly to 63.9% these last two games, up from 60.75% the first two weeks of the season.

But while Dallas has regained some of their focus on the ground attack, Elliott is averaging just 3.8 yards per game over the last two weeks, for a total of 165 yards on 43 carries.

The plan of attack is slowly getting on track but the Cowboys still need some work to find a groove anywhere near that of 2016.

In my opinion, the offensive woes begin and end with the offensive line. If they can be better, this team can be better, and that is exactly what we need if our defense continues to play as badly as they have.

Regarding our defense, I have just one word for you: tackling.

Tackling, or the lack thereof, seems to be plaguing this defense right now. Coverage hasn’t been great, and stopping the run has been hit or miss, but the tackling has been atrocious. These guys have to improve their tackling.

David Irving’s return this week should help the pass rush, as he’s been a key factor against the Packers for us before. With the way DeMarcus Lawrence is playing this year—a contract year for him—an extra threat on the defensive line could be just what cracks this defense’s potential wide open.

In addition, while I think Sean Lee sits this one out, Anthony Hitchens has been cleared from the injury report and looks like a lock to suit up against the Packers. Good thing too.

As always, I encourage you to add your own predictions for the game in our comments section below.

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Dallas' Defensive Reinforcements Not Enough

The Dallas Cowboys aren't able to rebound defensively after a poor second half against the Los Angeles Rams and Dallas suffers its first two-game losing streak since 2015. John Williams – @john9williams

Cowboys 23 – Packers 27

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Green Bay Might Just Have Their Number

Both the Packers and Cowboys enter this game with pretty prolific offenses, and not much to write home about on the defensive side of things. Aaron Rodgers has made a habit of crushing the Cowboys' back-seven due to a lack of pass rush up front, and to be honest, I can't see why that shouldn't happen on Sunday. I still like Dak and company to put up some points, but they fall short in a shootout this week. Kevin Brady – @KevinBrady88

Cowboys 28 – Packers 34

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Cowboys Pull Off an Upset Over the Packers

I know I'm going to be in the minority here, but I'm going to go with the Dallas Cowboys in a close win over the Packers. This isn't the same Green Bay team we have seen dominate the past several years. They have several injuries at key positions and I think the Cowboys can take advantage of that. I'm expecting Ezekiel Elliott to have a big game on the ground and the Cowboys defense to do just enough to secure the victory. Brian Martin – @bmart0204

Cowboys 37 – Packers 34

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A Defense Without Sean Lee

I think the Cowboys offense will put a lot of points on the board. However, with Sean Lee missing practices, I'm not sure that this defense will be able to stop Aaron Rodgers. Without Lee, this defense is far from good. I'm not proud of my pick... sorry, Cowboys Nation. Mauricio Rodriguez – @PepoR99

Cowboys 31 – Packers 35

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Aaron Rodgers Again and Again

Just feeling out the mood around Cowboys Nation this week off of the home loss to the Rams, it feels that even picking the Cowboys to lose this game at the very end is optimistic. This is exactly what I have happening though, as the offense gets on track and provides hope for what's ahead...preparing for week six at 2-3 after Aaron Rodgers leads another game-winning drive. Sean Martin – @ShoreSportsNJ

Cowboys 31 – Packers 34

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Cowboys Stay Above Water as Packers Fall Short

Nothing would make me happier right now than seeing the Cowboys whoop Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. It will be a hard-fought game, through and through, but with Hitchens and Irving back for the D, even without expecting Lee to play, the Cowboys upset Green Bay to stay above .500 going into the bye. Bryson Treece – @BrysonTreece

Cowboys 34 – Packers 27

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The Packers lead the all time series against the Cowboys by one game. Here's to tying up that score Sunday! Share your game picks below and, as always, Go Cowboys!


Nothing gives me greater joy than the experience of being a Dallas Cowboys fan come time to check another victory on the schedule every Sunday. I live Inside the Star everyday and blog on it occasionally, as well. Follow us on Twitter - @InsideTheStarDC

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3 Comments
  • Russ_Te

    If at GB, pretty worried in this spot. Cowboys D and OL, not settled at all.

    But they have to be in a bad mood after losing at home to the Rams, so GB bears the brunt of that > Dallas 31-24

    Btw Bryson; 1 vote against that auto-loading Fox video screen. This machine is a Win 7 laptop with 10 mbps connection, and that thing is bogging down the site load. Plus, who cares about their content?

    • https://InsideTheStar.com/ Bryson Treece

      Understood. Thanks for the feedback. I’ve been wondering specifically about that.

  • dallas1966

    I’ve been a Cowboys fan since 1966. I went to the Broncos game, and witness the woodshed whooping . I was optimistic that it was only a bump in the road. Unfortunately, it wasn’t, Rod Marinell is overrated, and that includes, Scott Linehan as well. Neither make halftime adjustments to counter what the opposition is doing in the second half. It appears that Jason Garrett doesn’t override them to make adjustments.
    The Cowboys scored only 10 points in the second half, while the Packers scored 23 points in the second half to win the game.

    Teams have spent the off season, to study the Cowboys, yet the Cowboys have no answers to counter attack, despite having the off season, to expect the opposition to change up the schemes to attack both the offense and defense.
    If the Cowboys coaching staff don’t figure it out, it’s going to be a long season, with another year in the wilderness.

    Marinelli, needs to adjust his defense to the talent, instead of forcing a round peg into a square hole.

    It appears it’s going to be few years, before the Cowboys even sniff a playoffs, if the Cowboys continues with THIS coaching staff, we Cowboys fans, will continue to wonder into the wilderness, living on the organization legacy of the 70’s and 90’s.

    Just venting……

Game Notes

Film Room: WR Ryan Switzer Showed Flashes Vs. Eagles

Kevin Brady

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Film Room: WR Ryan Switzer Showed Flashes Vs. Eagles
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There's no doubt the Dallas Cowboys passing game faltered in 2017. Though never expected to throw for many yards, Dak Prescott and the Cowboys failed to maximize their attempts down the stretch. The passing game was simply inefficient and ineffective.

One reason the passing game took a step back was the disappearance of slot receiver Cole Beasley. Whether you blame defenses adjusting their coverages on third downs towards Beasley, Beasley growing another year older, or quarterback Dak Prescott, Beasley simply didn't look like the same player in 2017.

In the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Cowboys selected a wide out who many anticipate could replace Beasley, in time. Rookie wide receiver Ryan Switzer rarely got chances to make an impact on offense this season, designated as the return man for much of the year. With Cole Beasley out for the season finale, however, Switzer got his chance to make a name for himself.

While the numbers were far from gaudy, Ryan Switzer showed some things we should be excited about for the future.

dalvsphi2018 switzer - Streamable

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Ryan Switzer's first target came on a third down -- something Cowboys Nation should get used to heading into 2018. Switzer is lined up inside in trips on the near-side of the formation. The Eagles show man coverage pre-snap, and with just one safety over top and the other rotated down on top of Jason Witten, it is clear to Dak Prescott they plan to bring some pressure.

As soon as Prescott gets the snap, his eyes go to Ryan Switzer.

The cornerback plays Switzer with inside leverage, refusing to be beat with a hot slant route. Switzer instead keeps the defender on his back hip and creates separation with an out-breaking route.

Prescott delivers the ball towards the sideline where the defender can't catch up to it, and Switzer comes away with the first down.

dalvsphi2018 switzer 2 - Streamable

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Later in the game, we once again see Ryan Switzer targeted from this inside-alignment.

Switzer is a pretty prototypical slot receiver, and if used correctly he should win in man coverage situations often. The cornerback attempts to maintain inside leverage on Switzer and get physical at the top of his route. Ryan Switzer does a nice job of fighting through that physicality and crossing the defender's face over the middle. He flashes open pretty quickly, and Prescott delivers a strike for the completion.

If Switzer can create this type of separation often, I see no reason why he shouldn't be a focus of the offense in 2018.

dalvsphi2018 switzer 3 - Streamable

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Switzer's third target is actually an incompletion, but it is worth studying, regardless. Switzer is in the slot on the far side and the Cowboys once again are in trips alignment. The cornerback over Switzer is in man coverage, but gives him room to breathe at the line of scrimmage.

Switzer exploits the cornerback -- who is cheating to the inside -- with his footwork and route running. He gets to the sticks, breaks to the outside, and creates enough separation for a first-down completion. Prescott delivers the ball a bit late and behind Switzer, causing an incompletion instead.

I'd still like to see Switzer adjust to the ball and make this catch, but I put more of the blame for this play on Prescott.

With a full offseason to work within the offensive system, as well as to develop chemistry with quarterback Dak Prescott, Ryan Switzer will prove to be an important piece to the 2018 Dallas Cowboys.


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Game Notes

Takeaway Tuesday: Datone Jones Should Be Back, Switzer’s Good Game

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Takeaway Tuesday: Datone Jones Should Be Back, Switzer's Good Game 1
AP Photo / Michael Ainsworth

The Dallas Cowboys put an end to a long, long season last Sunday after they defeated the Eagles in Philadelphia in a game that had absolutely no meaning for either team. Surprisingly, the Cowboys played with their healthy starters most of the game, but were barely able to put six points on the board, which were enough to take the win home.

The Cowboys might've lost more than what they actually won, and most of the fans were unhappy with the victory. Despite it being a pretty boring football game, we still learned a few things about the Dallas Cowboys.

The season's finally over. It wasn't easy, but we're still here. Here's to 2018. Let's hope it's a good one for our Cowboys. Here's this week's edition of Takeaway Tuesday!

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Coaching Staff Didn't Help Its Cause

It's more than fair to say that a lot of us want to see changes in Dallas. And specifically, changes in the coaching staff. After the Cowboys were eliminated from playoff contention, Jerry Jones said Jason Garrett's job was not an issue. Now, Jerry's even talking about Rod Marinelli and Scott Linehan being back in 2018. Who knows if it's true.

While I don't think we'll see a new head coach anytime soon, I'd dare say that after the horrible game versus Philadelphia the front office at least got to thinking.

Dak Prescott, Jason Garrett

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, HC Jason Garrett

Coming into this game, the team had a choice to make: play with the starters to win it, or let guys like Cooper Rush in the game and see what happens. A loss would've meant a better draft position for the Cowboys and a chance to see what rookies and other young players could bring to the table.

But they decided to manage the game like it was a "real action" game. Being conservative. Not going for it when there was nothing to lose. They did so after a team that, with the NFC's #1 seed secured, basically played with its B team. Not only that but for the Eagles, most of the game was played by a third string QB.

Despite all this, the Cowboys could hardly beat the Eagles 6-0. Poor execution and all, I can't help thinking about the coaches.

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Cowboys Should Keep Datone Jones for 2018

In late November, the Dallas Cowboys signed Datone Jones after he was released by the San Francisco 49ers. The former Packers' first-round pick made an impact when he was given the chance. His play at DT was pretty solid and he showed very promising flashes.

DatoneJones - Streamable

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Jones will be under contract in 2018 and I'd be surprised if the Cowboys don't keep him another year. Per Over The Cap, he'll be paid $790,000 next year which isn't at all expensive for a 27-year-old player.

The Cowboys would add depth and even a potential starter at DT for next season.

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Ryan Switzer Can Play as a Wide Receiver

With Cole Beasley missing the game because of an illness, we finally got to see Ryan Switzer at WR. We had already seen good things from him as a kick returner, but on offense, he hasn't been as involved as Cowboys Nation expected him to be.

Last Sunday though, Switzer was used for more than a jet sweep.

SwitzerWR - Streamable

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He still has a long way to go, but I was impressed by his ability to create separation. I really hope he's used more next season.

At the end of the day, he's a fourth-round pick. He should be playing more on offense, not just on "gadget plays" or special teams. Could Ryan Switzer be Dak Prescott's best friend in the future? Only time will tell. Right now, it's too optimistic to expect something like that.

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Dan Bailey's Confidence is Shattered

Dallas Cowboys K Dan Bailey

Dan Bailey's 2017 season hasn't been easy at all. We've seen him miss kicks we never imagined he would, including extra points. One of the most painful moments of the Cowboys' season came late in the season finale when he lined up to kick a simple 20-yard field goal.

The ball went up, but failed to split the uprights. Dan Bailey stood in complete disbelief, with a blank look in his face. His confidence, shattered.

For kickers, it's all about confidence.

For years, we referred to Dan "Automatic" Bailey as the most accurate kicker in NFL history. Now we're not sure about calling him "Automatic" anymore. Bailey will have a lot of time to pick himself up though, and will probably be back at it next year.

Let's hope that's the case.

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For now, the only thing left to say is one of the most encouraging, yet sad phrases in sports... Maybe next year. We're on to the offseason.

Tell me what you think about "Takeaway Tuesday: Datone Jones Should Be Back, Switzer’s Good Game" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!


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Game Notes

Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Starters Uninspiring in Week 17 Win

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Cowboys Starters Produce Uninspiring Week 17 Win

Playing more than enough of their starters in hopes of ending this 2017 season on a high note at the Eagles, the Cowboys produced a lackluster 6-0 win that will surely leave a bad taste in the mouths of Cowboys Nation - despite it being a victory.

The win put the Cowboys at 9-7 on the season, and it is a shame they had nothing to play for in this regular season finale. Once again in week 17, it was the offense holding back another fantastic performance by Rod Marinelli's defense.

We'll discuss both units in this final 2017 Dallas Cowboys version of Sean's Scout.

  • You have to love the way Chidobe Awuzie was able to bring physicality to a young Cowboys secondary that had another solid game. 

There were times earlier in this season when it seemed the Cowboys' second-round pick would have a lost season due to multiple hamstring injuries, but Awuzie quickly tuned around his rookie campaign by coming in and playing with exceptional technique and awareness.

With enough length to turn and run, Awuzie thrived in this zone scheme by keeping everything in front of him, as he did on his interception of Nick Foles. With Dallas in Cover 2 on the play, Chidobe read Foles' eyes the whole time to the boundary and was in position to cut off the pass.

This is a topic we'll now have much more time to discuss, and it is a hollowing one considering it was truly the Cowboys offense that kept them from the playoffs this season. The need for new talent at WR is clear, but the need for a target that better suits Prescott's strengths going into year three is even more important.

His pass catchers, along with inconsistencies in pass protection, were the main reasons Prescott struggled in 2017, although in this game it seemed like the only time he was affected in the pocket was when forcing the ball late to Bryant.

Coming from a spread system in college, Prescott simply does not have experience throwing his receivers open -- relying on route combinations and separation ability to hit open targets. Dez Bryant hasn't been that type of player through his career, and certainly isn't now that he's lost a step.

  • 9 wins for a team unlike their usual selves up front offensively is still pretty impressive. 

The Cowboys got nearly no impact from any of their free agent signings this season, which is why the depth of the team held them back once again. Veteran Byron Bell was brought in as a backup swing tackle, but he is simply not a scheme fit at tackle here.

Dak Prescott should not have been playing with Bell as his LT, and eventually Joe Looney at LG after Jonathan Cooper went down.

Bell lacks the quick-twitch ability and athleticism needed to be successful on every down, and it showed as he was again beaten by both speed and power against the Eagles.

The Cowboys have proven their acumen drafting young OL talent that performs at a high level early and often. So, instead of relying on more free agents, like Bell and Looney, drafting talent up front to spark the running game and give Prescott adequate protection is likely the best answer.

  • Ryan Switzer's ability to separate late in the down really stood out, as he finally got his chance at WR without Cole Beasley

Growing calls for more of Ryan Switzer on offense will surely take root this offseason after he caught four passes for 32 yards in the absence of Cole Beasley yesterday. More of a one-speed player at North Carolina, Switzer's spacial awareness and smoothness in giving Prescott somewhere to throw the ball as plays developed was really impressive.

In order to be a great team at the NFL Draft, you have to accurately scout your own roster. It will be fascinating to see just how the Cowboys feel about their current pass catchers, with not only Ryan Switzer but the likes of Lance Lenoir and practice squad addition K.D. Cannon in the fold as well.

  • The Cowboys found themselves a valuable addition to their rotation at DT with Datone Jones. 

Jones was able to push the pocket throughout this game in Philadelphia, and has done so consistently since getting here, at both the 1T and 3T positions. Using his hands to generate power as a down-the-line player, Jones plays with great pad level. That allows him to shoot gaps when needed, or anchor the line of scrimmage.

The Cowboys have not prioritized adding premier talent at DT in recent years, and may forego it again this offseason as well. The Cowboys expect Maliek Collins to contribute further with another season at 1T and David Irving back at 3T.

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To everybody who made this 2017 season at Inside The Star as enjoyable as ever, I would like to thank the readers of Sean's Scout. All this aspiring scout can ask for is to enhance the fan experience through both wins and losses, and your feedback on this series helped me to confidently do just that.

As we prepare for an even better 2018, Sean's Scout won't be going anywhere! I'm shifting my full attention towards the NFL Draft, looking for prospects that could help the Dallas Cowboys reach the playoffs again next season.

Thank you for another roller-coaster ride we call football season, Cowboys Nation. Truly the best fans anywhere.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Starters Uninspiring in Week 17 Win" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!


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