FRISCO, Texas –It always helps a bit when you face a team for the second time, so you know what you're getting into.
Obviously, everyone has covered how different these teams look from their Oct. 16 meeting, but there's still plenty of familiar personnel to base a game plan around.
Aaron Rodgers is obviously the captain of the ship for Green Bay. We'll cover that in plenty of other ways. But with Jordy Nelson unlikely to play on Sunday, I wanted to take a look at his primary receiving option heading into this game.
There's also a lot to study about this Green Bay defense and how they might fare against the Cowboys.
So here we go:
Weapon: WR Randall Cobb
Here's a guy that has a real passion for the game. Emotional and driven, and he has outstanding physical and mental toughness for the position. He plays every snap like it's going to be his last.
On the tape, his initial quickness is better than his true speed. He can beat the defender off the line, then he works to separate. He plays with a burst, and he shows the lateral quickness to go either left or right. He has both body control and balance. You see this when the Packers use him in the backfield as a running back. He has stop-start quickness, and there is playing strength in his frame. He's not afraid to take on a defender with the ball in his hands.
Cobb is always aware of the situation around him. He knows the down and distance. He will fight to finish plays. Consistent in the way he runs his routes, and he is at his best when he comes across the field to present himself as a target on the move. He plays with courage, and he is willing to take the shot to secure the ball.
As we saw last week, he's capable of clutch production. Aaron Rodgers finds him and he delivers. He has natural hands with the ability to extend them. He can adjust to make the contested catch.
With Jordy Nelson likely out of the lineup, Cobb will be Rodgers primary target.
Nemesis: S Morgan Burnett
I can't state enough that Burnett has high football intelligence. He is rarely out of position or fooled on the play.
He has the ability to play up or back in the scheme, and he is always around the ball. You have to worry about him when he plays down in the box as the extra defender, because when he is unblocked he is physical enough to stand in there and make the tackle. He has a knack for shooting the gap and capturing the back in the backfield.
In coverage, Burnett plays with outstanding range. His best trait is his ability to help in coverage on the outside. You will see him carry tight ends one-on-one up the field. He has short-area quickness and pursuit. Good body control and balance, and good angles to the ball. He doesn't over run plays.
He plays well in zone, shows discipline to handle his area. This isn't a guy that's likely to jump routes and be wrong -- like his partner, Ha-Ha Clinton Dix. Physical to get his man on the ground. Shows a lot of toughness in this area. Can create turnovers with his positioning.
Under the Radar: LB Blake Martinez
Rookie fourth-round selection out of Stanford. Martinez is one of those players that pops out on tape when you study this defense. He has a nose for the ball, and he is a little like Sean Lee in the way that – when he sees it, he's going to make the tackle. He has a feel for how to beat blocks and get through the gaps. Nice closing burst and range.
It's impressive the way he can take on inside or flow down the line and get to the ball on the outside. He has nice lateral quickness with the ability to change directions. What's surprising with his size is that he has the ability to play this way. There's good body control and balance, and he also shows some upper and lower body power. He doesn't stay blocked long – you have to stay on him to remove him from the play. Martinez doesn't allow the blocker to get to his body.
His motor and effort are consistent. Even as a rookie, he's not going to be up and down with his play. He's not going to get the defense beat in coverage.
Martinez was nicked up in the playoff game last week with a knee injury. He missed the entire second half against the Giants, but it appeared to be more precautionary -- should be in the lineup this weekend.