It’s about time, ain’t it? Sunday can’t come soon enough, whether you’re counting from that trash-time loss to the Eagles in week 17 of this year, the hype and excitement of Tony Romo‘s week two injury in 2015, and definitely since the 2014 Divisional Round loss to the Green Bay Packers. Dallas Cowboys fans might just be sick of waiting right now.
The rivalry between the Cowboys and Packers transcends generations, albeit rather quietly, so it couldn’t be any more perfect that this year comes down to that rivalry.
When you think of Dallas vs Green Bay, it’s sort of the go-to response to mention the Dez catch from 2014. That play has rippled throughout the NFL ever since. But what gets lost behind the glamour of what should have been is another blunder from that same 2014 match-up; DeMarco Murray’s fumble. Either play gone the other way and the 2014 Cowboys were off to Seattle for the NFC Championship game.
We felt the tension from that day earlier this year (week six), and we were collectively relieved when the Cowboys won it. It was such a small victory, just another game on a long schedule, but it felt good nonetheless.
But what do we make of Aaron Rodgers right now?
A few months ago, David Irving made easy work of the star quarterback, but this isn’t then. This is now and right now, Aaron Rodgers is the hottest QB in the league, coming off a flawless seven-game winning streak in which he’s thrown zero interceptions.
How will the Packers fare without number one wide receiver Jordy Nelson in the mix? A missed illegal shot during the wildcard round against the Giants (leading with the crown of the helmet, not called) broke his ribs and caused a whole host of other issues that have forced him out of tomorrow’s game.
And then there’s the Cowboys, who last we saw were only half a team with a lot of guys either resting or flat-out injured. Sure, it gave us one cherished (final?) drive in which to cheer our quarterback, Tony Romo, but how will these guys return from two weeks off? Can they handle whatever rust may have developed and the Green Bay Packers in the same day?
How will Morris Claiborne’s return look? He was finally looking like the top draft pick everyone kept telling us he was before he got injured, but can he keep that same level of play after sitting out for the last half of the season? And what of stand-out rookie CB Anthony Brown? He’s shown up a in a big way since Claiborne’s injury, proving to be an upper-tier cover cornerback when we desperately needed one. Rod Marinelli is going to have to figure out what his defensive backfield looks like with Byron Jones, J.J. Wilcox, Barry Church, Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Orlando Scandrick, and Anthony Brown all ready to take snaps.
But the biggest question of all is simply can the Cowboys beat the Packers, and they most assuredly can. A little magic from week six’s match-up, like Ezekiel Elliott running hard and David Irving getting after that ball, and the Cowboys can look ahead to hosting the first NFC Championship in Dallas in more than two decades.
But no pressure or anything…
Alright, enough foreplay. I want to know what my guys have to say about the game.
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Brian Martin | @Bmart0204
I expect the Dallas Cowboys to control the time of possession with Ezekiel Elliott and the running game. He rushed for 157 yards on 28 carries in week six against the Packers and that is likely the blueprint Jason Garrett and the coaching staff will follow this week.
In the end, the Cowboys just have too many offensive weapons that the Packers’ beat up defense has to account for. So, although it may be a close game, I have the Cowboys coming out on top when the time expires.
Cowboys 27 – Packers 20
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Mauricio Rodriguez | @PepoR99
I get it, the Packers are hot right now. But the Cowboys are not your average football team. They’re loaded with healthy players. The offense feeds Ezekiel Elliott, the defense bends but doesn’t break…
The Dallas Cowboys walk away with a win, and go on to the NFC Championship game.
Cowboys 35 – Packers 28
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Sean Martin | @ShoreSportsNJ
I don’t know if I have ever been more confident in the Cowboys coming into a playoff game than I have with this one.
If you ask the rest of our staff, this probably just means that Aaron Rodgers is going to end our season with nine TD passes and 7,000 yards. Realistically though, I still don’t think Green Bay is prepared for Ezekiel Elliott, and the Cowboys running game will carry them enough to be one win away from Super Bowl LI.
Cowboys 28 – Packers 24
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Kevin Brady | @Kevinbrady88
Despite being 13-3, coming off a bye, and hosting the game, the Dallas Cowboys seem to be the consensus underdog among most of the country. But you know what? That’s fine with me.
I see this game going just like the Cowboys/Steelers game went earlier in the year. The Packers will have no answer for the Cowboys running game, Dak Prescott will make big time throws when he has to, and the Cowboys defense will make timely stops to win the game. The same formula which has worked all year should work this Sunday, and send the Cowboys to the NFC Championship Game.
That’s surreal to type, but it is more real than ever.
Cowboys 34 – Packers 30
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Bryson Treece | @BrysonTreece
In a win-or-go-home situation such as this, I guess it’d be a little messed up for me — or any of our guys here Inside The Star — to predict a loss for our Cowboys, but it’s more than that.
We’re not just Cowboys fans picking our team to win, we’re football fans who believe that these Dallas Cowboys are a better team than the Green Bay Packers. I actually sort of wish Jordy Nelson was playing, because then there’d be fewer excuses. Aaron Rodgers may have all the national pundits cooing his name, but he’s still just one guy. And Rodgers doesn’t even get a say against our offense.
I predict the Cowboys will fight like hell. I expect some turnovers for both teams. I know this won’t be an easy game, because it never is with the Packers or Aaron Rodgers. But in the end, I believe the Packers will fall short.
Cowboys 31 – Packers 27
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It’s a brand new year and it starts for us with a historical match-up between two great teams. Things are a little sunny-side up at the moment, but crunch time is nearly upon us, finally.