Sunday, October 16, 2016

2016 Week #6: Packers vs. Cowboys Preview & Prediction

Due to power and Internet outages in our area from overnight storms, the posting of this preview and prediction is coming along much later than we'd like. Our apologies. So, we'll do our best to just cut to the chase on this one.
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers needs to begin regaining
some of his old form against the Cowboys today.

Photo by Rick Wood, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Offense needs to get in gear
This is a "Thanks, Captain Obvious" statement: the Pack's once high-flying offense, led by QB Aaron Rodgers and a top-notch receiving corps, has been rather mediocre despite the team's 3-1 record. The Packers are at or near the bottom on first-down production and Rodgers' completion percentage -- if you can believe it -- is at the bottom of that category league wide. Receivers aren't getting open and, despite great protection from his offensive line, Rodgers seems to have forgotten some of his solid technique fundamentals in favor of operating outside the pocket. As the article today in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel by the great Packers beat writer, Bob McGinn, demonstrates, Rodgers seems to be falling from his elite status over the course of the last 16 games. You be the judge. But the article is tough to argue with.

Part of the problem today might be a limited Eddie Lacy at running back. He was off to a great start last week against the Giants before suffering an ankle injury. He will apparently play today, but that heavily-taped ankle will likely hinder his effectiveness. Also, James Starks will not be available today or for the next several weeks. A report this morning by Jay Glazer stated that Starks had knee surgery this very morning. No specifics as to the nature of the injury or timetable for return. The only other running back the Packers have is on the practice squad and was not made active for this game. So if Lacy can't go, look for Randall Cobb and Ty Montgomery to operate out of the backfield. Not...ideal. It puts more pressure on Rodgers, which in the days of yore might have been no worries. Now...we don't know. If they can replicate their first half performance against the Lions for a full 60 minutes, great, the Pack should emerge with a victory. If not...?

Rushing defense vs. rushing offense: who will win the day?
The angle to this game that has been played up by the national sports media is that of the Packers' number one rushing defense vs. the Cowboys' number one rushing offense. According to the pundits, the 'boys have perhaps the best offensive line in the game right now. The Packers have a dominant front 7 opposing them. If the "D" can hold the Cowboys' rookie RB Ezekiel Elliott in check, and put an effective pass rush on rookie QB Drew Prescott, the Packers should be able to score enough points to win this game.

Our prediction
At the time of this writing, the Packers are favored by 5.5 points. We think it might be more of a slugfest than that.

We're calling it 23-20 Packers.

Go Pack Go!!!