Shawn (3-1, 1-2-1 ATS): On one hand, it is pretty pathetic that Vegas essentially sees the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys as equal football teams even though Dallas starts a rookie at quarterback. The line opened at 5.5 and has gone toward the Cowboys since, sitting at 4-4.5 by Saturday.
On the other hand, based off the stats from the first five weeks, the Cowboys should be favored to win this game. Statistically speaking, they are superior to the Packers in every main category except for run defense. The Cowboys gain more yards than the Packers while allowing fewer, and they score more points while allowing fewer than the Packers.
We all know the Cowboys have the No. 1 rushing offense in the league to match up with the Packers No. 1 ranked run defense. However, the Cowboys also have a passing offense that is better in every regard than the Packers except in touchdowns. That isn’t saying much, since the Packers rank 27th in the league in pass offense.
Yet to throw an interception this season, rookie quarterback Dak Prescott is known for operating a “safe” passing offense, and yet, he averages 8 yards a pass, which is much better than Aaron Rodgers’ bottom-feeding 6.3 yards per pass.
So, on paper, this certainly looks like the toughest test for the Packers at home yet this season.
That being said, I am going to pick the Packers. The Packers, I believe, are actually a bad matchup for the Cowboys. The Cowboys have been running the football and controlling the clock. And yet, the way to control the game against the Packers so far this season has been to throw the ball. Dak Prescott hasn’t had to do that yet. He should be asked to in this game.
He will also be pressured. Prescott is a good athlete, capable of making plays with his legs, but remember, the Packers defense was built for guys like him. The Packers’ speed up front on defense should be able to contain Prescott enough to force him to throw the football.
In the much-hyped matchup between No. 1s, I like the Packers’ chances to contain Ezekiel Elliott, and the only way I see him getting over 100 yards is if he breaks a long run at some point. The Packers will have to watch for that and realize that running the ball for Dallas isn’t just a filler play to keep the defense honest between passes. Dallas looks to get big plays from its running game. Even more so right now than their passing game.
I have no idea how the Packers will do on the back end because they have been all over the map there, but I have a hard time seeing Prescott winning this game on the strength of his arm.
Though statistically looking as poor as last season, the Packers offense at Lambeau has reclaimed some of its swagger. I think the biggest injury for either team — both teams are injury-riddled — is Orlando Scandrick being out for the Cowboys. He is the guy who would have covered Randall Cobb. With him out, Cobb will go up against a backup.
If Aaron Rodgers knows that he can count on Cobb on third downs, I feel pretty good about the offense’s chance to get off to another good start at home and their ability to control the game once again. If Dallas falls behind, their young QB might panic a little. They are not a team built for playing from behind.
Regardless of everything else, I am probably not ready to admit that the Cowboys without Tony Romo have ascended past the Packers. Not yet.
I pick the Packers, but once again, I don’t pick them to cover the spread.
Packers 24, Cowboys 21
Monty (3-1, 1-2-1 ATS): For a change, I feel pretty confident in the Green Bay Packers this week. Unfortunately, usually when I feel pretty confident in the Packers, they end up getting raked and embarrassing us all.
Here’s the thing with this game. A lot of hype. I hate hype games. They typically fail to live up to it.
We know all about No. 1 run defense vs. No. 1 run offense. Strength on strength. We know all about the poise of rookie Dak Prescott.
I am not here to tell you the Cowboys are a bad team. They’re not. They play sound fundamental football. They run the ball and play defense. At this point in time, it’s like they’re a team from another decade.
Frankly, I feel like this year’s Cowboys team plays ball like the Packers SHOULD be playing ball. Run the football, control the clock, rely on your D.
Mike McCarthy would never allow that, though. That really is the X factor to me in any game the Packers play this season — will Buffoon muck up the works so badly with his buffoonery that the team simply cannot win? And there’s really no way to predict that.
Here’s what I will predict. You might even call them bold predictions.
The Packers’ run defense will contain Ezekiel Elliott. Eddie Lacy, who I expect to play, will outgain Zeke. The Cowboys, at some point, will be forced to pass almost exclusively and the Packers’ pass rush will get to Prescott.
The Cowboys haven’t asked Prescott to win them a game this year. They haven’t asked him to make dangerous throws. That will change on Sunday, simply because the Cowboys will have no other choice.
That’s the difference right there. The Packers offense will put up enough points at home. I like Lacy and Cobb to be the difference-makers on that side of the ball. Also, look for Jordy Nelson to bounce back after a terrible week 5.
The Cowboys aren’t a joke, but they’re just not quite there yet. This is a different game with Tony Romo under center. Fortunately for us, the Packers won’t be seeing Tony Romo on the field.
Packers 24, Cowboys 17