IRVING, Texas – Here's your look at two matchups I think will go a long way in deciding the outcome on Sunday afternoon.
You've heard plenty about why the Green Bay offense has struggled, and I've got a theory on how I think the Cowboys can further disrupt them. On the other side of the ball, I think we're going to see a rematch you should remember quite well from the playoffs last year.
Here's a look:
Cowboys WR Dez Bryant against Packers CB Sam Shields:
Another week and another quality cornerback that Dez Bryant is going to have to deal with. Sam Shields will travel with Bryant this week, and that will be Green Bay's way of trying to take him out of the game. This is a matchup that Bryant has seen before, so that will help him in his understanding of how to attack it. On the other side, Shields will try and match him with a physical style despite giving up some size.
Where Shields will be able to do most of his damage with Bryant is with his ability to recover if he is beaten. Shields is one of those corners that, if he is beaten off the ball or you gain separation on him in route, he has the speed and quickness to rally back to the ball. Shields has a burst and he plays with an extended burst to the ball and out of his backpedal. He is a very good reactionary athlete that has that short-area foot quickness. Bryant has to make sure that he finishes his route completely because if he doesn't, Shields will be there to contest the ball.
Shields has good ball reactions and balance. He plays with nice lower body bend and flexibility. Can be a hard man to get away from. Knows how to stay in position throughout the route. I have seen Scott Linehan move Bryant around to try and create matchups, and we could see him do the same to help Bryant against Shields.
Cowboys LB Rolando McClain against Packers C J.C. Tretter:
My gut feeling is that the Packers' normal starting center, Corey Linsley, is going to miss this game. If that is the case, then that means J.C. Tretter makes the start.
The drop off between Linsley and Tretter is pretty noticeable. Linsley is a nice second-level player, but he is able to play with a little more power than what the Packers get from Tretter. In studying the Chicago game two weeks ago, the Bears were able to take advantage of him by running linebackers through to the ball. One of the strengths we have seen from McClain these last several games has been his ability to not only be physical at the point of attack in taking on blocks, but that ability to stop a play once he sees it moving downhill.
Tretter is a good athlete, but he's not good enough to match the power of McClain. Keep an eye on a similar gameplan to what we saw last week, when both McClain and Sean Lee attacked by blitzing those "A" gaps against the Redskins. The idea is to make J.C. Tretter have to take a blitzer one-on-one and play with power, which is likely to be a struggle for him.
These Packers receivers have had a difficult time getting open, and if that continues to be an issue in this game, getting rushers home -- especially through the middle of the pocket -- will once again be a problem for Aaron Rodgers.