Posted on October 14, 2016, by Travis Pulver
The Dallas Cowboys are in a bad yet enviable position. They have a quality, veteran quarterback in the wings working his way back from injury, and his heir apparent already proving his mettle on the field as he does so. Most owners and head coaches would sell their souls for one good quarterback, but Dallas actually has two!
However, since you can only play one, the Cowboys are going to have the tough task of deciding if they want to ride the rookie—Dak Prescott–while he is in the zone and winning games or give the job back to the injury prone veteran.
While Jerry Jones gave fans reason to think he might consider sticking with the hot hand in a recent radio interview, all indicators point to Tony Romo getting the job back either in Week Eight when the Philadelphia Eagles come to town or in Week Nine when they travel to Cleveland.
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So the chances are good that Dak Prescott’s final game of the season will be this Sunday in Green Bay against a very tough Packers team—but one he can definitely beat a Packers team primed and ready for another loss.
Aaron Rodgers is still one of the best in the game, but he is not having one of his better seasons. Rodgers is having a little trouble connecting with his receivers this year. Through four games he is completing just 56.1 percent of his passes—the worst of his career and worst among qualified quarterbacks this season.
While Eddie Lacy looks like he got in better shape after a disappointing season last year, it hasn’t really translated into much success on the field (295 yards with just one 100+ yard game). He appeared to be well on his way to another 100+ yard day against the Giants last week but left the game in the second half.
So far the Packers are talking as if he will play this week, but it remains to be seen if he will. If he doesn’t, the Packers running game will be in trouble. James Starks filled in last week after Lacy was injured and gained only 33 yards on 12 carries.
Playing the Dallas defense fans saw in Weeks 1-4 could be what Aaron Rodgers needs to get on track, but if the one that controlled the Cincinnati Bengals in Week Five shows up, the Packers are going to be hard pressed to score points.
However, the Cowboys may be just as hard-pressed.
To beat the Packers, Dak Prescott will need to have another good, efficient day, just like the ones he had against the Bengals, 49ers, Bears, and Redskins. That is, as long as Ezekiel Elliot and the offensive line can get the running game going. But no one has been able to run on the Packers this season (42.8 yards a game).
This season’s success against the run game is in stark contrast to how well the Packers run defense played last season (119.1 yards a game). It is also worth noting that three of their opponents are among the worst rushing teams in the NFL (No. 32 Vikings, No. 30 Jaguars, and No. 27 Giants). The fourth team isn’t much better (No. 23 Lions).
So maybe the Green Bay run defense isn’t better; it’s just shined against terrible teams. They will certainly be tested this week. Dallas is the No. 1 rushing team in the league (155.2 yards a game) and have one of, if not the best offensive lines in the NFL.
Should Elliot get on track early, the Packers will be in serious trouble. The secondary is expected to be without Sam Shields and possibly Damarious Randall as well. While Green Bay has a nice pass rush (14 sacks so far), they have yet to face a line quite like what the Cowboys have (FoxSports).
So if Elliot can get the running game going and Prescott can move the ball through the air—and there is a very good chance they will–Rodgers is going to have his work cut out for him.
It would help if the Packers can do what no one else has done this season and force Prescott to make a few mistakes, but the Green Bay defense has just a pair of fumble recoveries and two interceptions on the season—so don’t count on it.
Instead, count on the Packers flaws being exposed. They have skated by three poor teams and lost to another.
Dallas is not a poor team and will be too much for Green Bay to handle.