Thursday, November 29, 2007

Packers vs Cowboys: The Day Has Arrived!

This is it, Packer fans. The day. The first time since 1990 that two teams with 10-1 records have met up. More importantly, though, one of those 10-1 teams -- for the first time in a long time -- is the Packers. Unfortunately, this game is being played in Dallas. This is where Brett is 0-8. Remember the 1990s, folks? When it seemed like every freakin' year the Pack had to play the Cowboys in Dallas. And every year, something bad would happen to yank victory out of the Pack's collective hands.

But this is a new era. The Packers have been re-born. Still, not many of the prognosticators are giving the Pack much of a chance tonight. The point spread on the game has actually gone up from 6-1/2 points to 7 in favor of the Cowboys. Other than the home field advantage, what can account for this? The thought is the 'boys have a stronger running game. OK, I'll give that edge to them with Barber and Jones to our Ryan Grant. They apparently are giving the defenses a push. While admitting that the Dallas secondary is ready for the picking, they also note that unless Charles Woodson can play most of the game, the Packers will also be weaker in that area given the question mark on Aaron Rouse's health and the fact that Nick Collins is just returning after two weeks of inactivity due to injury. The edge in receivers clearly goes to the Pack. Dallas has T.O. and Witten and that's about it. That might be enough, however, if Woodson is out. Give the edge in QBs, of course, to Brett. The game may well come down, all things being equal -- or relatively so -- to how well each offensive line can protect their quarterback. The expectation, as mentioned in an earlier post, is that when the Pack goes to 4 and 5 receiver sets Dallas will blitz and bring everything they've got. Not keeping a back in to help protect Brett might be deadly in such situations. This will be a chess match, especially early on.

Given all this, the other factor which seems to be looming large in people's minds as to favoring Dallas is that the Pack has more injuries coming into this game. That's true. And it may well be that the effect on depth is enough to undermine the Pack's chances. Or, it may be -- just as it has been all season -- that when one player goes down the next one steps up. On the other hand, that's worked against teams far from the caliber of Dallas. This will be a good test of exactly how deep the Packers go, especially on defense. Because it may come down to which defense can shut down the most key plays. Which defense can bend but not break.

I'm drinking the kool-aid on this game, kids. Packers 31 - Cowboys 27.