The Green Bay Packers will be looking to prove they’re contenders against the Dallas Cowboys this Sunday.
Both teams enter the weekend atop their divisions with 3-1 records. They both lost their first game last week to formidable opponents.
But the Cowboys are a young team destined for years of contention, while the Packers and Aaron Rodgers are just hoping to prove they can still be relevant.
Quarterback Battle: Aaron Rodgers vs. Dak Prescott
Dak Prescott is trying to sprint past Aaron Rodgers as the top-dog quarterback in the NFC. So far this year, he’s doing just that. Prescott leads Rodgers in completion rate (72% to 62%), touchdowns (9 to 6), and quarterback rating (113.7 to 95.4).
AARON RODGERS JUST FORCED A THROW TO A RECEIVER WHO WAS NOT OPEN. IT BACKFIRED INTO A TIPPED INTERCEPTION, ENDING THE GAME. BOTTOM LINE: RODGERS JUST AIN'T WHAT HE USED TO BE. HE SHOULD'VE WON THAT GAME EASILY, AGAINST THAT EAGLES SECONDARY.
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) September 27, 2019
But don’t count out the Green Bay veteran yet. Yes, Rodgers is 36 years old, and no, not every quarterback can be stellar into their 40s like Tom Brady. But Rodgers is one of the best quarterbacks of all-time. He lit up the Philadelphia Eagles secondary last week for 422 yards. Although he did throw the game-deciding interception, it was his first and only interception of the year.
Meanwhile, Prescott stunk it up against the Saints, throwing zero touchdowns and one interception in a loss to the Drew Brees-less Saints. Rodgers could easily step into his greatness this Sunday and remind the league why he has the highest career passer rating of all-time.
— 7-3🧀 (@HailRodgers12_) October 3, 2019
Defense Wins Championships (And Regular Season Games Too)
Green Bay is 3-1 – despite Aaron Rodgers playing like a mere mortal – because their defense is finally clicking. They rank tenth in yards allowed per game and third in passing yards allowed. The problem is, the defense in Dallas is even better.
The Cowboys rank seventh in yards allowed per game. They’ve only allowed 96.8 rushing yards-per-game this year while Green Bay has given up a whopping 142.2 rushing yards on average. With one of the top young running backs in the league in Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas will look to control this game on the ground.
Ezekiel Elliott is the last person the Packers want to see right now.
Or maybe this is where the Packers’ run defense could show that the past three weeks are as bad as it's going to get.
— Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) October 1, 2019
The Injury Bug Is Biting
Unfortunately, injuries might be the most significant factor in this matchup. As of Thursday, a whopping 14 starters were listed as questionable or out between the two teams.
Dallas all-pro left tackle Tyron Smith is listed as out, while two other starting offensive linemen are listed as questionable. That could make it tough on Dak Prescott as Green Bay’s pass rush will look to take advantage.
— Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) October 2, 2019
However, Green Bay will have a hard time capitalizing if their defense is equally hobbled. Top linebacker Blake Martinez, who’s the second-leading tackler in the NFL, is listed as questionable. Top cornerback Kevin King is also questionable, as are two other defensive starters.
Add on to that the disconcerting fact that the Packers’ premier wide receiver, Davante Adams, has yet to partake in even a light practice with a turf toe injury.
Prediction: Cowboys 27, Packers 20
Aaron Rodgers will truly have to be great to capture this victory. Dallas has the edge in rushing, defense, and, for the time being, passing. They also have home-field advantage and fewer critical injuries.
The Cowboys are 3.5 point favorites to win this game, but they’ll likely cover the spread and expose the gap between the Packers and the NFC’s elite.
Kickoff is at 4:25 pm ET on Sunday, and the game will be broadcast on Fox.