Packers vs. Cowboys Tale of the Tape
Football shifts into a different gear during the postseason, and that’s exactly what the Green Bay Packers did last week against the New York Giants. Following a stretch that saw the Green and Gold play beneath expectations and struggle through a four-game losing streak during the month of November, the Packers finally did on December 4th what they were not able to do in the nine previous weeks – string together consecutive wins. Ultimately, Green Bay won their last six straight regular season games, and clinched the NFC North division for the fifth time in six years.
The Packers were able to sustain that momentum in the wild card round with a 38-13 win over the Giants. Aaron Rodgers completed 25 of 40 attempts with four TD passes – three of which went to wide receiver Randall Cobb, who had 116 receiving yards. Rodgers has arguably been playing the best football of his career in the past seven games, throwing 19 touchdowns with no picks for a 69.6 percent completion rate and a passer rating of 121.7. Rodgers even makes up for head coach Mike McCarthy’s mistakes, such as a bewildering decision to go for it on 4th-and-1 from Green Bay’s 42 on the second drive after halftime against the Giants – which unsurprisingly backfired. Rodgers, however, made fans forget all about it on the next drive with passes to Jared Cook and Davante Adams for nice gains before hitting Cobb with 30-yard touchdown.
The veteran Super Bowl champion and MVP, two-time league MVP and six-time Pro Bowler is having a latter-day heyday, but will he meet his match in the Cowboys’ upstart gunslinger Dak Prescott? Is Dak the Jack McCall to Rodgers’ Wild Bill Hickok, the Hansel to his Zoolander? The fourth-round rookie had no difficulty transitioning from the NCAA to the NFL, taking over for the injured Tony Romo, leading Dallas to the NFC East championship for the second time in three years and clinching home field advantage throughout the playoffs for the first time since 2007, thanks to a 13-3 record (including 11 straight wins).
The Cowboys’ youth movement does not stop with Prescott. The fourth overall pick, running back Ezekiel Elliott, finished the regular season as the league’s leading rusher with 1,631 yards and earned a Pro Bowl selection, joining Prescott as the first rookie running back/quarterback tandem in history to be selected to the all-star game. The Packers have already had a taste of what Prescott, Elliott, and company are capable of. Dallas defeated Green Bay 30-16 in week 6 of the regular season. Prescott threw for 247 yards with three TD passes, while Elliott ran for 157 yards on 28 carries. Even though Rodgers had more yards, he only connected on one scoring pass in that game. US sportsbooks have the Cowboys favored by 5 points for the rematch. Rodgers and the Packers will have a chance to exact revenge against the Cowboys in the divisional round on Sunday. Dallas will not throw away a year to remember so easily, so it will be a sight to see.