This Sunday marks the sixth time that the Dallas Cowboys will face the Green Bay Packers since 2013, including the playoffs. Outside of the division, no team has become a bigger thorn in the side of the Dallas Cowboys.
We all remember the playoff game from the 2016 NFL Playoffs. It's still fairly fresh.
Dak Prescott and company got off to an amazingly slow start to roar back to tie the game in the final minutes. If not for a miraculous play from Aaron Rodgers, an offensive holding not called, and an amazing catch along the sideline by tight end Jared Cook, the story might have ended differently.
That Aaron Rodgers to Jared Cook pitch and catch was awarded the 2017 ESPY for the "Best Play."
Best play sounds like one of Mark Lane's (@TheRealMarkLane) "Fun Facts." It's the best... depending on which side of the result you were on.
We all remember the "Dez Caught It" game.
Sorry to rehash the old awful memories, but the Aaron Rodgers' Green Bay Packers are the equivalent of the San Antonio Spurs to the Dallas Mavericks. The Detroit Red Wings to the Dallas Stars. The Detroit Pistons to the Chicago Bulls.
The Packers have been that team which has made life difficult for the home town team. Whether it was Romo in 2014 or Dak last year, it seems that the Green Bay Packers are always around to foil our great expectations.
Yet, here we are again, with an important game against a team that is playing really good football. The good news is this Cowboys core has had success. Albeit a 1-1 record over the last year, one of those wins, however was in Green Bay. That counts for something.
With all that said, let's dig into the numbers surrounding this week's game.
After last week's loss to the Los Angeles Rams, the Dallas Cowboys sit with a -3 point differential on the season.
The current turnover differential for the Dallas Cowboys after giving it up twice to the Los Angeles Rams. One was Ryan Switzer's muffed punt. The other was on a Dak Prescott interception where it was unlikely he saw the defender after the roll-out.
The percentage points that Dak Prescott's completion percentage sits above fellow second-year quarterback and NFC East bunk mate, Carson Wentz. At 60.8, Dak, while un-Dak-like sits 0.8 percentage points above Marcus Mariota.
The five players worse than that trio are; Jacoby Brissett, Carson Palmer, Brian Hoyer, Blake Bortles, and DeShone Kizer.
The Green Bay Packers hold a one-game lead in the all-time series with the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys are 13-14 all-time. Including the playoffs, Dallas still sits one game back in the all-time series.
Seems like a good time to tie that up.
DeMarcus Lawrence continues to sit alone atop the NFL's Sack Leaders, now with 7.5 He remains on pace for an incredible 30 sacks. Again, it is very unlikely that he will keep up such a torrid pace, but with David Irving, Sean Lee, Anthony Hitchens, and Chidobe Awuzie all coming back to the defense, it's possible it opens things up for Lawrence.
Aaron Rodgers and Dak Prescott have each thrown three interceptions in the first four games of the season.
Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Alex Smith, and Case Keenum are the only players who have thrown more than 100 passes without throwing an interception this year.
This is where the Packers rank in passing yards allowed per game. That's pretty amazing considering teams are typically forced to throw to keep up with Green Bay. They've held two teams, the Seattle Seahawks and the Cincinnati Bengals (OT included) to under 200 yards passing.
Five also represents the number of players on the Dallas Cowboys who have caught more than 10 passes through the first four games. Jason Witten, Terrance Williams, Dez Bryant, Ezekiel Elliott, and Cole Beasley have each caught more than 10 passes.
Aaron Rodgers' 10 touchdown passes have him tied with Tom Brady for the most in the NFL at the moment. Dak Prescott is in the next group of players who sit just two behind them with eight TD passes. Those other players are Alex Smith and Drew Brees.
At 2-2 the Dallas Cowboys sit among 12 teams that are 2-2 or better in the NFC. Of those 12 teams, six of them are 3-1 or better. For comparisons sake, the AFC has only 11 teams at 2-2 or better with only four teams at 3-1 or better.
The NFC is a jumbled mess. Dallas needs to win this one to maintain their playoff standing in the conference.
The amount of times that Aaron Rodgers has been sacked so far this season. That's the third most in the NFL. Only Alex Smith (16) and Carson Palmer (17) have been sacked more times than Rodgers.
Jordy Nelson's current touchdown pace. With five through four games, Nelson leads the NFL in touchdown receptions. Jason Witten, Dez Bryant, and Brice Butler lead the Dallas Cowboys with two apiece.
Points per game average for the Green Bay Packers. That's good for eighth in the NFL. The Dallas Cowboys are 12th at 23.5 points per game.
Green Bay is 28th in the NFL in rushing yards per game. The Packers only average 74 yards rushing per game and haven't had a single game in 2017 where they've rushed for more than 100 yards as a team. That bodes well for a Dallas team that has struggled a bit to stop the run.
Ezekiel Elliott's rushing yards per game, which is the ninth best average in the NFL. If you take out his poor 8-yard effort against the Denver Broncos in week two, who've only allowed 202 yards rushing for the season, Elliott is averaging 89.67 yards per game.
Elliott's 76 attempts rank him fourth in the NFL in rushing attempts. Only Le'Veon Bell, Leonard Fournette, and Todd Gurley have more carries than Elliott in 2017. Gurley is the only one of that foursome that is averaging more than 4.0 yards per carry.
In fact, of the 19 running backs with more than 50 attempts so far, only seven are averaging more than four yards per carry. OUCH!!!
Through four games Dak Prescott has rushed for 89 yards, averaging 22.5 yards per game. In 2016, it took till the seventh game of the season for Prescott to reach the 89-yard mark. Dak's legs have been a nice addition to the offense.
The amount of times that Ezekiel Elliott has touched the ball through four games. Barring a suspension, this would put him on pace to touch the ball 368 times.
Aaron Rodgers' passer rating, tied for seventh in the league with Tyrod Taylor.
Yes, you read that right.
Dak Prescott on the other hand is 18th in the NFL with a passer rating of 90.1, just behind Eli Manning and Carson Wentz.
The amount of rushing yards that Green Bay has allowed per game. In their week two loss to the Atlanta Falcons, they allowed a total of 141 yards rushing.
Outside of the Packers' week one win over the Seattle Seahawks, they've allowed every team to gain more than 100 yards on the ground.
'Cause People Like Numbers, Here are More Numbers
- At 5.0 and 5.2 yards per play allowed on defense, respectively, the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers are virtually identical in that regard.
- Green Bay is allowing 20.3 points per game and Dallas 24.3.
- Dallas has allowed opponents to score on 39.1% of their drives while the Packers have allowed opponents to score on only 31% of their drives.
- Dallas leads the league in defensive starting position.
Why The Seahawks Will Be Looking Into A Mirror Against The Cowboys Sunday
For the better part of the last decade one defense has reigned supreme over the NFC. One defense has continually put their offense and team in position to win big games, including a dominant Super Bowl win over one of the more productive offenses in recent memory.
That defense, of course, belonged to the Seattle Seahawks.
With a secondary deemed as the "Legion of Boom" and a defensive line which rotated through Pro Bowl level talent routinely, the Seahawks bolstered one of the best defenses the NFL has ever seen. A defense which perfectly complimented the physical, run first philosophy their offense lived by.
Players like Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Michael Bennett, and Bobby Wagner will arguably be Hall of Famers one day, and they wreaked havoc on the conference for a strong 3-5 year stretch.
Now, however, things are changing.
Gone are many of the elite players which once bolstered the Seattle defense to top-tier status, and while some big names remain, the talent level simply isn't the same. The Seahawks missed the postseason a year ago, and now sit at 0-2 before their home opener today against the Cowboys.
Their window looks to be closed, while their opponent today is looking to build their defense (and team) in the mold of what once was in Seattle.
Former Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard has come to Dallas and brought with him a more aggressive defensive philosophy, one which he deployed successfully with the Seahawks. Under Richard the Cowboys are blitzing more often on third down than they have in the past under Rod Marinelli, they're utilizing more single high safety looks, and they are allowing their long and talented corners to do what they do best in coverage.
The Seahawks once leaned on a deep pass rush and long, physical secondary. The 2018 Cowboys are looking to do the same thing.
The Seahawks once leaned on a mobile quarterback to make plays with his feet while relying on a strong running game and one of the league's best backs. The 2018 Cowboys are looking to do the same thing.
Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie look like they were molded in a 2013-Seahawks lab as cornerbacks, and DeMarcus Lawrence is as productive as any pass rusher those defenses had. Of course, we aren't able to say the Cowboys have the consistent front four depth that those Seattle teams did or that they have the single high safety of Earl Thomas' caliber, but the preliminary pieces are clearly in place.
Today the Cowboys look to improve to 2-1 with a conference road win. But, they also look to bury the Seahawks in the past and take another step towards cementing themselves as one of the elite defenses in the NFC.
It won't happen over night, but anyone can see that the potential is there.
Cowboys, Seahawks Week 3 Injury Report
Believe it or not, Seahawks Safety Earl Thomas isn't the only guy whose playing status is in question for today's game. Other key players for Seattle and the Dallas Cowboys appear on the teams' Week 3 injury reports.
The Cowboys are looking to move to 2-1 and maintain a slim lead in the NFC East. The Seahawks are still looking for their first win of 2018, and the drama around Thomas isn't helping the fear of a locker room implosion.
What players may not be out there to help their teams to victory?
- C Travis Frederick (illness) - OUT
- DT Maliek Collins (knee) - OUT
- WR Cole Beasley (ankle) - Questionable
- LB Sean Lee (hamstring) - Questionable
- S Xavier Woods (hamstring) - Questionable
Frederick remains out as he deals with his neurological disease. Dallas decided to keep him on the 53-man roster, rather than place him on injured reserve, with the hope that he could return before Week 9. There are still several weeks before we'll know if that was a good move.
Maliek Collins will be out today after a minor knee injury suffered last week against the Giants. Taking his spot will be Datone Jones, who returns from his own knee issue after missing the first two games.
You don't like seeing your quarterback's favorite receiver and your defensive leader on the same injury report. Thankfully, though, it appears both Cole Beasley and Sean Lee will be available today.
For the #Cowboys, WR Cole Beasley (ankle) is expected to play, and LB Sean Lee (hamstring) should be good to go, as well, based on how he moved around in practice on Friday, sources say.
Finally, we come to the ever-intriguing Xavier Woods. While limited in practice all week, Woods is expected to make his season debut in Seattle. We will see if Xavier gets the start at free safety, or if Dallas will ease him back in and keep Kavon Frazier starting for now.
With all of the hype around Dallas' possible acquisition of Earl Thomas, one has to hope that Xavier won't overdo it and make matters worse with his hamstring. Between the enthusiasm just to play and the threat to his starting job, the second-year stud should be pretty amped up.
- WR Doug Baldwin (knee) - OUT
- C/G Ethan Pocic (ankle) - OUT
- LB K.J. Wright (knee) - OUT
- C Justin Britt (shoulder) - Questionable
- LB Mychal Kendricks (ankle) - Questionable
- S Earl Thomas (???) - ???
Seattle remains without Baldwin, their leading receiver from 2014-2017, and it shows in their offensive play. QB Russell Wilson is currently at career lows in completion percentage and passer rating, plus has already thrown three interceptions in just two games.
The Seahawks have issues up front as well. Starting left guard Ethan Pocic will also miss today's game. With right guard D.J. Fluker returning this week after missing the first two, that will allow backup J.R. Sweezy to flip over to the other side.
If that wasn't enough, starting center Justin Britt missed the entire week of practice with a shoulder issue. He has not been ruled out, though. Regardless, those are a lot of red flags on your offensive line with the Cowboys' emerging defense coming to town.
Also out today will be Pro Bowl linebacker K.J. Wright. That means we could see Mychal Kendricks, who was just recently booted from Cleveland after being charged with insider trading, playing a major role today. Kendricks knows the Cowboys well, having played with the Eagles from 2012-2017.
And lastly, Earl Thomas.
No health or injury-related reason has been given for why Thomas missed practices on Wednesday and Friday. "Personal reasons" is all you're getting from Seattle, fueling rampant speculation that a trade is in the works. Whether or not that trade is with the Dallas Cowboys is pure conjecture at this point.
What we do know is that Seattle is 0-2 and trending down this year. Holding onto Thomas and his expiring contract, only to lose him for nothing next year in free agency, would be foolish.
We'll see if Earl plays at all today. If he doesn't, the trade talk is going to explode.
Cowboys Wishlist: Dallas Cowboys VS. Seattle Seahawks
It's week 3 of the 2018 NFL season and this match-up already feels like one of the most important ones the Dallas Cowboys will play in the season. The reason why is they need to prove they're good enough to win consistently and that they won't have another year that feels like a roller coaster of wins and losses like 2017 did. As they travel to Seattle to face the 0-2 Seahawks, the 1-1 Cowboys can't miss a perfect opportunity versus one of the weakest units in football: the Seahawks' offensive line.
As every gameday, here is my Cowboys Wishlist for this week's action. As always, I encourage you to share your wishes with me in the comments section below or tweet me @MauNFL!
Wish #1: Brett Maher Kicks a 50+ yard FG.
Dan Bailey recently signed with the Minnesota Vikings. Cowboys Nation will experience a very odd feeling when they see their former kicker wear purple. If there's something that can make fans feel better is watching the guy who replaced Bailey nail a long field goal in Seattle.
Brett Maher showed he could kick a 47-yard FG in preseason, but we want to see him pull it off in a kick that will actually go down in the books. The decision to release Dan Bailey won't leave our minds until we see Maher do his job.
Wish #2: Rico Gathers Scores His First Career TD.
It felt like forever, but tight end Rico Gathers was activated for the first time in his career last Sunday. Rico didn't get his first catch even though he was targeted twice by Dak Prescott. The most notable moment was when Gathers seemed to be open in the endzone but Dak missed him.
Although Prescott's pass could've been better, Gathers did stumble a little bit and wasn't where he should've been to catch that touchdown. No worries, Rico's career is only beginning. I wish his first touchdown ever finally comes this week.
Wish #3: Defense Gets Its First Interception of the Year.
Through two weeks of NFL action, the Dallas Cowboys defense has been one of the most impressive units. Ranking as the third best in total points in the league, the Cowboys' defense might begin being the team's best side of the ball. At least, it has been for the first two weeks.
Last week, they limited Odell Beckham Jr. to only 51 yards. Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie have played pretty well so far, but I wish they're able to get their first interception of the year. Dallas has one takeaway from week 1 versus the Panthers, but it came in form of a fumble.
Let's get that interception from Russell Wilson, who will be pressured most of the day by a very productive Cowboys' front seven.
Wish #4: 20+ Point Performance
Despite a very exciting first drive versus the Giants last week, the Cowboys' offense still needs to prove it can be successful enough to win games. Scott Linehan's unit had some good drives but it also failed to maintain a consistent attack all game. That may seem okay, but the Cowboys will have to win against some pretty tough defenses.
Seahawks will present the team with a very interesting challenge and one that I wish they pass. As good as the defense is playing, the offense needs to show up in order to win later games.
Wish #5: Contain Russell Wilson
Wilson is one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the NFL. His agility might be the best among every other signal caller in the game, becoming a very tough guy to defend. He can hurt you with his arms and legs and can throw on the run pretty well. All week we've been talking about how sacking the Seahawks' QB is a key to the victory, but it's more than that.
Wilson is good in the pocket, but when he starts scrambling or running out of the pocket only to throw the ball once the defense is out of position, he becomes a pretty painful headache. The Cowboys need to put him on the ground, but they also need to contain him all day long. He's basically his team's entire offense.
Dallas Cowboys4 days ago
Cowboys Reunion with WR Brice Butler Makes No Sense
Game Notes1 week ago
Cowboys Rookie LB Leighton Vander Esch May Be New Starter at SAM
Player News7 days ago
Report: Dallas Cowboys to Sign Free Agent Wide Receiver Brice Butler
Game Notes6 days ago
Sean’s Scout: Secondary Play, Improved OL Stand Out in Cowboys Win Vs. Giants
Game Notes6 days ago
3 Stars from Dallas Cowboys Win over the New York Giants
Player News2 weeks ago
Cowboys Sign G Xavier Su’a-Filo; Impact on Connor Williams?
Game Notes2 weeks ago
3 Stars from the Dallas Cowboys Week 1 Loss to the Carolina Panthers
Game Notes2 weeks ago
CAR 16, DAL 8: Cowboys Open Flat, Fall Short to Panthers