Tale Of The Tape: Green Bay Packers At Dallas Cowboys
- QuarterbackThe Packers were hoping to have Aaron Rodgers back in the lineup by Thanksgiving Day, but he has not yet fully recovered from his left shoulder injury. While there is a chance he could line up against the Cowboys, the likelihood is that the Packers will have Matt Flynn under center again. While Flynn is an accurate short passer, he lacks Rodgers’ poise and many of his physical gifts.Tony Romo has been passing the ball consistently well this season. After several frustrating seasons, Romo and the Cowboys believe they can be postseason factors in the NFC. If that’s going to happen, they can’t lose a home game to an undermanned Green Bay team. Romo excels at reading defenses and throwing his receivers a very catchable pass.
- OffenseThe Packers may not have rookie running back Eddie Lacy available for this game after suffering a sprained ankle in the Week 14 victory over the Falcons. If he can’t go, that will be a huge loss for the Packers. Wide receiver Jordy Nelson continues to be productive even though Rodgers is out of the lineup, but James Jones is having a difficult time breaking long plays without him.The Cowboys can support Romo’s passing with a decent running attack. DeMarco Murray can be a productive back, but he usually needs to get off to a good start to make that happen. Wide receiver Dez Bryant is one of the best receivers in the league and he is only getting better. Tight end Jason Witten almost never drops the ball.
- DefenseThe Packers defense has continued to play hard since Rodgers’ injury, but there has been some fall off because the unit has been on the field more often and the offense has not been as productive. The Packers rank 21ster in overall defense, Linebacker A.J. Hawk has a team-high 107 tackles, while linebacker Clay Matthews leads the team with 6.0 sacks.The Cowboys defense has struggled badly this season as they rank last overall and 31st against the pass. One of the biggest reasons for their poor play has been the injury to linebacker DeMarcus Ware (thigh) that has kept him from top form. Middle linebacker Sean Lee has been one of the best all-around players in the league. His instincts often put him in a position to make a big play.
- Special TeamsThe Packers have had some problems with their coverage teams, and that could be an issue in this game as well. Michah Hyde has the speed and explosiveness to break long returns himself. Mason Crosby has had a solid year, making 29-of-33 FG attempts.The Cowboys have done a solid job covering kickoffs and punts, and they have an explosive punt returner in Dwayne Harris who has brought a punt back for a touchdown. Dan Bailey has made 19-of-21 FG attempts, including 4-of-5 from 50 yards and beyond.
While the Cowboys have a short week after playing Monday night in Chicago, it’s difficult to see the Packers competing for 60 minutes without Rodgers in the lineup. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor