The Ghost of Green Bay still haunts the Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys are 6-2, coming off a much-needed bye week, and have Dak Prescott back under center. They are perfectly positioned to dominate in the second half of the schedule. But first they have to exorcise old demons…or should we say ghosts…
The Cowboys bye week came at the right time. Players were beat up and needed a break. Some where coming back from legitimate injury and needed time to heal and rehab. Coaches had adjustments to make and holes to fill. And the whole team needed a mental siesta in preparation for the stretch run.
What awaits the Dallas Cowboys right out of the gates, but a familiar foe that historically has absolutely crushed their souls. Sunday’s game against “The Grinch from Green Bay” (Aaron Rodgers) is giving Cowboys Nation PTSD flashbacks for all of the pain and suffering he has caused this football team over the last decade. Gawd help me!
Before the Dallas Cowboys can continue their winning streak, they must face and beat a 3-6 reeling Green Bay Packers
Historically speaking, the Packers are the one team that has repeatedly beaten Dallas in the most heartbreaking fashion possible. From the 1967 NFC Championship game (Ice Bowl game) to the Dez Bryant “catch” and to the sideline catch made by Jared Cook, the Dallas Cowboys have enough sad memories to sing a duet with Taylor Swift.
For the first time in forever (2008), the Packers have lost five games in a row, are offensively challenged, and vulnerable across the board. Aaron Rodgers is playing like a shell of himself, to the point his frustrations sound like a man who wished he had retired.
Green Bay haunts the Dallas Cowboys
Even though Dallas enters this premier game as favorites, the Packers are like a wounded lion with just enough fight to cause an upset. A win would keep their slim playoffs hopes alive and in the process, derail Dallas’ hopes of catching the Philadelphia Eagles.
With that being said, Dallas has the opportunity to take the Packers out of their misery, once and for all, and show the league they are the real deal.
The Packers will come into the game more hyper than a three-old eating a bag of skittles, but Dallas is the better team and have enough weapons on both sides of the ball to put this game away early. Since its head coach Mike McCarthy’s “homecoming,” he should elect to receive the ball first and do everything in his power to make sure Dallas scores on their opening drive. Attack the Packers weak run defense and score immediately.
The Dallas Cowboys are clearly the more talented team, and they need to make a statement whether it is on their first possession or on defense. This is the game where great teams put away sorry teams-ending all hope of making the playoffs. Dallas going into Green Bay and beating them breeds more confidence for a team that has a new identity: a dominant running game with an Alpha dog defense.
Because this Packers’ team is struggling and their season is sinking faster than the titanic, you are wondering why beating them is so important. Glad you asked. Here is why:
1. First and foremost, the Packers are desperate for a win and Rodgers is still a great quarterback that has an 8-3 record versus Dallas. Rodgers beat Dallas in 2014 on one leg. In other words, this is going to be one tough game.
2. The measure of a good team is how they beat down a “perceived” weaker opponent. You cannot label a team “elite” if they struggle with a weaker opponent. Blowing them and beating them in all phases of the game speak volumes.
3. From a psyche standpoint, beating the Packers is equivalent to getting the “800-pound gorilla” off their back. The Packers have beaten Dallas in the waning minutes too many times, and it’s because of the Grinch.
If you think this is hyperbole, then you believe in the tooth-fairly. Here is a good example: Against the Lions, Rodgers threw three interceptions and all of them were his fault. If not for the self-inflicted poor play from Rodgers, the Packers beat the woeful Lions.
Do not expect Rodgers to play as poorly against a Dallas team he has owned with his outstanding play. The “Grinch” will come out and make his inconsistent wide receivers look like Hall of Famers with his gifted passes.
Yes, Dallas’ defense leads the league in sacks with 33, but stopping Rodgers will have to be a full effort from the entire defense; from tackling to gap responsibility, to getting pressure, the defense must play mistake free football.
Sidebar: During the Packers 5-game losing streak, Rodgers has completed 51 percent of his passes to his wideouts, but 74 percent in the first four games.
On the offensive side of the ball, Dallas must continue to run the ball with Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard and let the play action pass open up the offense. The Packers rank at the bottom in the league in stopping the run, so there is no need to make Dak a high-volume passer. If Dallas wants to beat the Packers, stick to their physical running game and the victory will come.
I wholeheartedly expect Dallas to beat the Packers because they have the better team, and they finally have a bona fide head coach that knows how to prepare for his opponents. It helps that Mike McCarthy used to coach the Packers, so he has some insight in how to at least contain Rodgers.
But the main reason this game is important for the Dallas Cowboys is that they next face the surging Minnesota Vikings and then the New York Giants on Thanksgiving Day. None of these games are gimmes, so Dallas taking care of business against the Grinch from Green Bay in convincing fashion will keep the winning streak alive and keep them in the race to capture the NFC East crown.
And hopefully, the Ghost that has been haunting the Dallas Cowboys since 1967 will finally disappear…at least for this season.