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Big Picture: 10 Storylines for Cowboys & Packers


It's finally playoff time. The Cowboys clinched a spot in the postseason back in December, and have been projected to be here for most of the season.

But now is the time that really counts. The Cowboys are the No. 2 seed in the playoffs with a 12-5 record for the third straight season. They'll take on the 9-8 Packers, who are the No. 7 seed.

Here are the 10 big storylines for the week, with five for the Packers and five for the Cowboys.


  • The Packers made a big decision in the offseason to part ways with Aaron Rodgers, but after an up-and-down season for the most part, Green Bay rallied at the end to win three games and claim the final playoff spot in the NFC at 9-8. The Packers have the 11th best offense in the league and rank 17th on defense. One point this year, they were 2-5 but they rallied down the stretch, winning six of their last eight, including the last three games.
  • In his first season as the starting quarterback in Green Bay, Jordan Love has his team where the Packers expect to be – the playoffs. His stats have him around the Top 10 in the league, including second in touchdown passes with 32, behind only Dak Prescott (36). Love ranks seventh in yards with 4,159 and he's 11th in passer rating at 96.1. More importantly, he's led his team to three straight wins to end the regular season to even get to this position.
  • While there has been plenty of talk about the Packers playing their former head coach in Mike McCarthy, it should be pointed out that only four players on the team, including one on injured reserve, ever suited up for McCarthy, who was let go at the end of the 2018 season in Green Bay. It's not like there is a ton of familiarity for either side as only Aaron Jones, Kenny Clark and Jaire Alexander will be playing on Sunday with any history with McCarthy. Veteran offensive tackle David Bakhtiari has been on IR all season.
  • The Packers have some question marks at wide receiver, with a recent injury to Romeo Doubs that sent him briefly to the hospital on Sunday. Doubs scored both of the Packers' touchdown last week against Chicago, but later suffered a chest injury. He's listed as day-to-day. The diagnosis should be the same for Christian Watson, who has missed five games with a hamstring injury. He was close to returning last week against the Bears. Watson torched the Cowboys for three touchdowns – thrown by Aaron Rodgers – in last year's regular season game in Green Bay.
  • Talk about ending the season on a high note – running back Aaron Jones has battled injuries all year and only played eight games heading into the final three weeks of the season, with a combined 298 yards. But in the final three games, Jones recorded 358 yards on the ground, consistently producing with 127 yards, 120 yards and 111 yards in three wins over Carolina, Minnesota and Chicago.


  • For the Cowboys, it's simple – the playoffs are here and it's time to see if this season is any different. For the third straight year, the Cowboys enter the playoffs with a 12-5 record, but the No. 2 seed is the highest they've been since 2016. The Cowboys haven't made it past the NFC Divisional round in nearly 30 years, but that won't matter for this week. The focus is beating Green Bay in the Wild Card round, setting up another home game at AT&T Stadium, where they are 8-0 this year.
  • Without both Zack Martin (illness) and Tyler Smith (foot) last Sunday, the Cowboys were able to function just fine on offense without both starting guards. The play of youngsters T.J. Bass and Brock Hoffman was encouraging, especially for the future, but it does appear that both starters will be back for the Packers game. The one in question is Smith, but Cowboys executive VP Stephen Jones said he expects the second-year guard to play.
  • Another injury to watch is veteran cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who suffered a shoulder injury before halftime last Sunday in Washington. He didn't return to the game but afterwards, after what he described as a subluxation that was "popped back into place," Gilmore should be ready to play this week. The Cowboys will take it easy with Gilmore, who is likely to be limited in practice this week, but should be ready to play.
  • Is there a hotter player in the NFL right now than CeeDee Lamb? The numbers don't suggest that, considering Lamb finished the season with an NFL-leading 135 catches – the sixth-most in NFL history. He is second in the NFL behind Tyreek Hill with 1,749 yards. Just like what Aaron Jones was able to do for the Packers in his last three games, check out Lamb's final three – playing Miami, Detroit and Washington. Lamb had 32 catches for 443 yards and four touchdowns in the last three weeks of the season.
  • How things have flipped around in eight seasons? Dak Prescott was the young rookie making his first playoff start in the 2016 Divisional round against a Mike McCarthy-led Packers team with Aaron Rodgers. The Packers were able to get off to a fast start and then hold on for a dramatic 31-28 win. This time, it's Dak who is the veteran, coming off his best regular season of his career, thanks to many factors, including McCarthy, who took over as the Cowboys play-caller this year. They'll be facing the upstart Jordan Love, who has replaced Rodgers and is making his first NFL start on Sunday.

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