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Aaron Rodgers Has Healthy Respect For Cowboys' Results Under Marinelli

FRISCO, Texas – It speaks volumes about Aaron Rodgers' abilities that his outing against the Cowboys this past October was considered a bad one.

The two-time NFL MVP completed 74 percent of his passes against the Dallas defense. He threw for 294 yards and a touchdown, and he finished with a passer rating of 90.8.

But as those who watched the game might remember, he also threw a costly interception to Barry Church and was held in check to a measly 16 points. The Cowboys rolled to one of their most impressive wins of the season.

"They have a lot of guys who make plays on the ball," Rodgers said. "Sean Lee is all over the field and gets in throwing lanes, so it's important that you're smart about your eye discipline and going through your progressions."

Whatever bothered Rodgers back in October – and for much of the first half of the season – he seems to have fixed it. During the Packers' seven-game win streak, he's averaging 290 yards per contest, with an average passer rating of 121.6.

Then, of course, there's the impressive stockpile of 19 touchdowns to zero interceptions.

"Obviously, it starts from the ground up when you're being accurate with your balance, your rhythm and your timing, and you've got to have your receivers on the same page," Rodgers said.

The result is a Green Bay offense that looks scarily similar to the ones that have racked up countless Packer wins over the course of Rodgers' career. As Cowboys coach Jason Garrett put it on Wednesday, it's a standard that was set long before Green Bay's current winning streak.

"He's been hot for about nine years," Garrett said. "He's a great football player, always has been and he just plays the game at a really, really high level and we have a really, really healthy respect for him and what he does and how he makes everyone around him better."

That presents a steep challenge for Rod Marinelli and the Dallas defense. As fantastic as the Cowboys looked that day at Lambeau Field, they'll need a similar effort to limit Rodgers and his weapons on Sunday.

As tough as it sounds, that's something the Cowboys have excelled at all season long – as Rodgers himself pointed out.

Marinelli's unit has allowed plenty in the way of passing yards this season. They're 26th in the NFL against the pass, surrendering an average of 260 yards per game. On top of Rodgers' 294 in October, Kirk Cousins hit them for 449 on Thanksgiving, and Ben Roethlisberger threw for 408 when the Cowboys traveled to Pittsburgh.

It hasn't reflected in the scoreboard. The Cowboys are No. 4 in the NFL in scoring defense, allowing 19.4 points per game, and they've only given up more than 23 points to three opponents.

"They just play their scheme extremely well as a whole," Rodgers said. "Guys are not making mental mistakes. They're not voiding zones and leaving guys running all over the field. They're going to make you go the long way and expect to force a turnover or get a big stop in the red zone to hold you to three."

Whatever shortcomings they might have, the Dallas defense has been remarkably consistent on that front. On top of that, the Cowboys have the advantage of one of the NFL's most dominant offenses working in their favor.

It wasn't lost on Rodgers that the Cowboys rolled up 191 rushing yards in the teams' first meeting, putting together scoring drives of eight plays, 12 plays, five plays, seven plays, seven plays and eight plays. To combat that, he said the Packers can't afford to be sluggish.

"I think the key is you have to start fast," he said. "It's going to be a loud environment, the place is going to be rocking, we need to get going early and not allow them to get in their ball control offense and ride Zeke, keep us off the field. We're going to have to start fast and get some points early."

The Cowboys' formula has worked wonders to this point, but Rodgers is determined to make this their toughest test yet.

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