Two of the NFL’s most storied franchises will clash at Lambeau Field in what feels like a good ol’ fashioned slugfest in the Frozen Tundra heading in to this matchup. It will be cold, Aaron Rogers likely won’t be playing at 100% health, and the underdog Cowboys were undefeated on the road this season at 8-0. No matter what story line you pick this could be another epic game between these two clubs as they clashed for what’s now known as “The Icebowl” back in 1967 that was played in frigid temperatures for the NFL Championship on New Year’s Eve.
Dallas won their division with a game to spare and finished the regular season at 12-4, while the Packers were able to knock off the Lions in week 17 to win the NFC North, also with a 12-4 record. Aaron Rogers and Tony Romo have both had magnificent seasons and both are being mentioned in the MVP conversation, being the steady hand for their respective offenses. This game could come down to who plays better defense and can limit the damage in a game that will likely see a good amount of points being put up despite cold temperatures.
Let’s take a look at both clubs and see what the lines tell us.
Dallas was a team that just about nobody attached any hope to coming in to this season, but that’s why they play the games and the Dallas Cowboys came away with an NFC East division championship. Dallas boasts a rare combination of elite running in the form of DeMarco Murray, superstar receiver in Dez Bryant who lead the NFL with 16 touchdown catches this season, and a professional Quarterback that can distribute the ball to both at the highest of levels in Tony Romo. Romo lead NFL Quarterbacks by completing 69.9 percent of his passes this season, threw for 34 touchdowns in 15 games, and coming in to this game he has a passer rating of 129.4 with 14 touchdowns and one interception in his last five games. He had a Quarterback Rating of 82.7 this season, and yes that’s better than Aaron Rodgers and it leads the league. DeMarco Murray rushed the football for a league-high 1,845 yards this season and had 12 games in which he eclipsed the 100-yard mark. He could very well do so again Sunday afternoon as the Dallas O-Line is arguably the best group in football and very likely to outmuscle the Packers front and create holes for Murray. If not, Romo can use Dez Bryant who now has the most TD catches in one Dallas Cowboys season with his 16. The Packers somewhat lack an all-star corner to cover Dez so Romo, like last week, can use his wide variety of targets like TE Jason Witten, WR Terrance Williams, and the newest weapon WR Cole Beasley who made clutch catches in last week’s win over the Lions, in case Dez draws extra attention. It’s important to note that Dallas Kicker Dan Bailey has the best percentage of any NFL kicker with more than 100 attempts in the history of the league, so Dallas can be confident in their kicking game in tough conditions. The question here is whether the Dallas defense can solve an injured Aaron Rodgers and keep points off the board consistently. If so, Dallas has a real chance at an upset here.
Green Bay Packers
Another year, another NFC North title for the Packers who continue to be one of the NFL’s best teams. Green Bay earned themselves homefield advantage in this game by beating Detroit in the last game of the regular season, and it’s a good thing they did because they are one of the most dangerous home teams the NFL has to offer. Just like the Cowboys are 8-0 on the road this season, Green Bay is 8-0 at Lambeau field while averaging 39.8 points per game, the highest mark in the NFL. The Packers put on some clinics this season on their home field and possess one of the league’s top QB’s in Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers threw for 38 touchdowns this season but the issue coming in to this one is if the Superbowl winning QB’s injured calf can hold up for 60 minutes. Rodgers won’t be playing at full health so it will be interesting to see how he operates to open the game. He can go to RB Eddy Lacy as the second year pro had a very nice season for Green Bay with 1,139 yards and nine touchdowns. Dallas doesn’t have the best of defensive fronts so Lacy could get a lot of work with Rodgers leg possibly slowing him down. Rodgers could also get the ball out quickly to his two elite playmaking receivers in Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb who combined for 25 touchdowns this season. The Packers will definitely look to exploit a Cowboys secondary that can be exposed at times, and we know Rodgers has exposed some secondary’s at Lambeau in his day. The question here is the same as the question for Dallas and that’s if the Packers defense can stop the three-headed attack from the Cowboys and limit the damage. It’s actually a four-headed attack if you include the offensive line. Green Bay needs a standout game from their defensive line to stop the run and get the offense back on the field.
Green Bay -6 (+100)
Dallas +6 (-120)
OVER 52.5 (-110)
UNDER 52.5 (-110)
My Pick – Dallas +6 (-120) @ Bovada
What keeps Dallas in this game is the play of their offensive line. The young group held up well in the run game against the league’s second best defense last week against Detroit, springing Murray for 75 yards after Detroit averaged just 62 per game allowed. The Dallas unit will overpower the Packers front in the run game and will allow Murray space and more importantly for the Cowboys, offensive minutes that in turn keep Aaron Rodgers off the field. They have done it all year to some good teams. The defense is a big question mark but they kept Dallas in last week’s win by playing well in the second half and with a questionable Rodgers, the fiesty group could surprise some. Dallas does just about everything at an elite level offensively, and it has travelled well too as shown by their perfect 8-0 record on the road. I will gladly take 6 points here while giving some thought to the moneyline at +225 available at 5dimes.