The game of the weekend is going to begin with images of the ‘Ice Bowl’, the last time the Dallas Cowboys visited the Green Bay Packers in the Play Offs, and the temperature at Lambeau Field is going to be very cold, if not quite as cold as that. The frozen tundra is going to put together two teams that are unbeaten at home/on the road respectively and this looks like being a barnstormer.
Both Offenses are definitely going to be the strength in this game and there is every chance this develops into a shoot-out as long as the wind is not overbearing. The snow would be less of a concern for both Quarter Backs, especially with the running games that both teams have begun to put together over the last few weeks.
Eddie Lacy and DeMarco Murray might be the names on the fans lips rather than Aaron Rodgers and Tony Romo, at least early in the game when both Green Bay and Dallas look to establish their ground Offense. The Detroit Lions showed the Packers that it is possible to run against the Cowboys Defence, especially as the likes of Jeremy Mincey and Roland McClain are both banged up and questionable, and Lacy could have a big game on the ground.
On the other hand, DeMarco Murray’s Offensive Line has ripped open holes and will have a much easier time establishing the run than they did against the Detroit Lions considering Green Bay give up 4.3 yards per carry. The Packers have been stronger the last few games, but they haven’t faced a team even close to what Dallas’ Offensive Line can do and Murray will be there to extend drives and keep Rodgers cooled off on the side-lines.
The Packers have the Offense that can generate quick-strike Touchdowns and Rodgers will feel Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb will win their battles with Brandon Carr and Orlando Scandrick when he does decide to throw. The Green Bay Offensive Line has protected Rodgers very well and that has seen the Quarter Back go the whole season without throwing an Interception at home and the Cowboys just haven’t got the pass rush that will consistently get to Rodgers.
I should say normally I wouldn’t expect them to get to Rodgers- he has actually been suffering with a calf injury which could limit his movement and that might mean more of Lacy and shorter passes than scrambling for time to hit his Receivers deep down the field.
With Murray likely running effectively, Tony Romo will feel he can match what Rodgers produces with Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley all solid Receiving targets. Mistakes could be critical in a game where both teams should have a lot of Offensive yardage, but the issue of the calf has to be a concern for Green Bay fans.
Going against the Packers at Lambeau Field has not been much fun and they are 15-9 against the spread over the last three seasons here, but I like Dallas with the points. The sharps have backed the Cowboys heavily since the lines were released and so it has come down to 5.5 points, and looks to be heading further south, but I still like Dallas with these points in hand.
Murray can wear down the Packers and that should open things up for Romo, while also extending drives and keeping Rodgers standing in the cold of Wisconsin for long periods. Dallas have also gone 7-1 against the spread on the road this season and they are 14-6 against the spread as the underdog over the last three seasons.
Rested teams are just 12-20 against the spread in this Playoff Round over the last eight years and Green Bay have lost their last 2 home Play Off games outright. There is enough Offense in the Cowboys team to keep this competitive, while Aaron Rodgers is still dealing with that calf issue which may limit his effectiveness, even just enough to keep Dallas within the number.
PICK: Dallas Cowboys + 5.5 Points at 1.97
Price correct at time of writing