IRVING, Texas – A look at the keys to this weekend's matchup, as the Cowboys get ready to once again visit Lambeau Field.
Not surprisingly, I think quarterback play is going to factor heavily in this matchup – which isn't exactly a revelation. But the extent the Cowboys can limit Aaron Rodgers, and the amount of success Matt Cassel can find against a stingy Green Bay defense can't be understated.
Let's take a look:
Dallas Cowboys Win If:
The opponents that have been able to defeat Green Bay this season have all had a common thread – they have been outstanding in pass defense. In visiting with folks associated with the Packers, to a man the first thing they say is how much Aaron Rodgers has missed Jordy Nelson and his playmaking ability this season.
Even Rodgers said it himself: as an offense, they have to do a much better job of winning on the outside. As spectacular as Rodgers is – he struggles to do this alone. Defenses have been able to cover these Packers receivers to the point where Rodgers has taken more than his normal share of hits in the pocket while these receivers have attempted to work themselves open. Last season in their playoff matchup with the Packers, Brandon Carr was outstanding in the work that he was able to do against Nelson.
Rod Marinelli will need that same type of effort this week from not only Carr but Morris Claiborne and Tyler Patmon, as well. If this Dallas secondary can limit what the Packers do on the outside, then that should allow Marinelli to mix up his scheme on how he attacks Rodgers. From what he saw on Monday night, he should be encouraged that his four-man pressure can get home against a Packers offensive line that is banged up and likely without its starting center Corey Linsley.
Dallas wins this game defensively by limiting the opportunities of Randall Cobb, Davante Adams and James Jones, which allows them to get after Aaron Rodgers.
Green Bay Packers Win If:
It really hasn't mattered who has played quarterback for the Cowboys – the offense has had problems driving the ball for scores. The majority of this season it really has been extremely difficult for them to finish drives.
Coming into this matchup, Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers has to respect the offensive weapons for the Cowboys, but he doesn't have to respect their quarterback. Capers' plan is pretty simple: make Matt Cassel beat him in this game. Capers is not going to give Cassel many clean throws. He is going to put Sam Shields on Dez Bryant and Casey Hayward inside on Cole Beasley and force Cassel to find other avenues to deliver the ball.
Look for Capers to choke the Cowboys from running the ball, putting them behind the chains. By achieving this, Capers will force Cassel into having to make plays with his arm. If that is the case then Capers will be in perfect position to also turn Clay Matthews and Ha-Ha Clinton – Dix loose on him to seal this victory.