Game 1. Dallas Cowboys @ Green Bay 5.30pm
This is an exciting and decent play off game with two teams who don’t look dissimilar. Franchise QB’s, good wide receivers and ok defenses. Rodgers v Romo is how the press paint it but its a lot more than that.
The Packers are making their sixth straight playoff appearance with star passer Aaron Rodgers at the helm, but the postseason has been filled with disappointment since winning Super BowlXLV four seasons ago.
Tony Romo shined down the stretch in Sunday’s wild-card win, but the Cowboys quarterback — blamed for everything from global warming to unrest in Gaza — knows one victory won’t be enough to curtail his doubters. He now stands at the threshold of a golden opportunity: Down the Packers, silence the haters and bring the ‘Boys one step closer to the promised land.
Under pressure, Part One
The Dallas defense has surpassed expectations, but the secondary gave up plenty of chunk plays to Golden Tate and Calvin Johnson in the wild-card bout and rightly so they are quality Receivers.. After allowing the Lions two-some to team for 11 catches and 174 yards, the Cowboys are in for an even stiffer test on Sunday against wideoutsJordy Nelson and Randall Cobb.
The Packers duo ranks first in the league in receiving touchdowns (25), second in combined receiving yards (2,806) and fourth in total receptions (189). As the first team in NFL history boasting two players with 1,200-plus receiving yards and 12-plus touchdowns, the Packers have leaned on Nelson and Cobb to help the offense score on a league-best 46.7 percent of their drives.
Dallas has yet to be tested this way through the air, but the team’s recent spate of thievery might help. The Cowboys have forced 15 turnovers during their five-game winning streak, the most in the NFL since Week 14. Three takeaways saved the day against Detroit, but turnovers won’t be easy against a Packers offense with an NFL-low 13 giveaways this season. Rodgers, meanwhile, boasts an outrageous 25:0 touchdown-to-interception ratio at home in 2014.
Under pressure, Part Two
The calf of Rodgers:
Green Bay’s quarterback has battled a tweaked calf since Week 16. Coach Mike McCarthy has expressed only confidence in Rodgers suiting up against the ‘Boys, but this affair swings wildly in favor of Dallas if backup Matt Flynn does anything beyond downing cups of cocoa on the sidelines.
Matchup to watch:
After allowing 129.2 yards per game on the ground through Week 13, Green Bay has given up just 80.0 yards per tilt over the past three games. Granted, that average was greatly helped by holding the ghost-ship known as the Buccaneers to 16 yards in Week 16.
Green Bay on the year has hardly been a force against the run, ranking 23rd in that category despite facing just two top-five rushers all season.Marshawn Lynch punctured the Pack for 110 yards and a pair of scores in Week 1 — which feels like 43 years ago — before LeSean McCoy rumbled for 88 more in Week 11.
Dallas won’t wander from the script, angling to shorten the game with clock-chewing drives that lean on Murray, the NFL’s leading rusher, to tire down Green Bay’s front seven. Murray’s 12 games of 100-plus rushing yards are a Cowboys record, but the workhorse has been held under 100 yards in four of his past six outings.
Murray looked healthy against the Lions, but his 411 totes on the year — 99 more than any other back — have pushed the envelope. Does the Dallas wonder have one more monster outing on tap?
Aaron Rodgers (106.0) and Tony Romo (97.6) are the two highest-rated passers in NFL history. … Romo (113.2) and Rodgers (112.2) also boast a combined quarterback rating of 225.4 this season, the highest combined passer rating by two signal-callers starting a playoff game in league history. … This will be just the sixth postseason tilt in NFL lore where opposing quarterbacks each had 220-plus career touchdown passes. … Since 2011, Rodgers has produced the top-three single-season passer ratings at home in NFL history. … In games below 40 degrees, Romo’s passer rating dips to 86.3 (11.3 points below his career average) with Rodgers remaining an effective 104.7 (1.3 points below his career average).
Sunday marks the first ever playoff matchup of teams to go 8-0 on road (Cowboys) and 8-0 at home (Packers) in the regular season. … The Cowboys are the first team in history to have the NFL’s leader in passer rating (Tony Romo), rushing yards (DeMarco Murray) and receiving touchdowns (Dez Bryant) in the same season. … Rodgers has thrown 36 touchdowns since his last pick at home, which was Week 13, 2012 against the Vikings. That’s 14 consecutive games and 418 attempts without an interception, both of which are the NFL’s longest streaks since 1960.
So how does it break down. Logically, at home Green Bay are favourites but I just think that the Cowboys are starting to believe and somehow Romo will now deliver all that potential.