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!