Playoff Staff Predictions: Dallas Cowboys host Green Bay Packers

It’s a whole new season when playoffs begin. Dallas was fortunate enough to have a bye week, where they’re now arguably the healthiest they’ve been all year. Meanwhile, Green Bay suffered a few injuries during wildcard weekend in their win over the Giants. Cowboys Blitz writers share their predictions for this matchup below, as well as their picks for the other three divisional round games.

Dallas Cowboys host Green Bay Packers 

Sunday, January 15, 3:40 p.m. CST

AT&T Stadium, Arlington Texas

TV: FOX

Bobby: It looks very likely that Jordy Nelson isn’t going to play. Even if he does, it’s difficult to see him being very effective with two fractured ribs. The team I least wanted to face in the divisional round was Green Bay because of how Aaron Rodgers has performed in the last eight weeks or so. Dallas won the previous matchup in October, 30-16, but since that time Aaron Rodgers has thrown 34 touchdowns and three interceptions. He is a different player than he was in October and Green Bay is performing at a much higher level. But I think we’ve become so enamored with Green Bay’s resurgence that we’re ignoring the fact that Dallas has played at a high level the entire time; whether Green Bay was or not. I think Dak Prescott will be able to do some damage against a Packers secondary that has struggled much of the year, and we already know that Ezekiel Elliott can run rampant on them. I think Dallas gets ahead early with solid play from Prescott and then milks the clock with Elliott in the second half. Dallas 28, Green Bay 21

Laurie: How will the Cowboys stop the Aaron Rodgers passing attack? The return of Mo Claiborne is a strong way to start. Claiborne provides a better matchup for the likes of Davante Adams crossing the field than sturdy boundary-squeezer Brandon Carr. Orlando Scandrick and Anthony Brown have the quicks to disrupt a resurgent Randall Cobb, but need to play with disciplined contact downfield while Byron Jones must win the battle of the eyes with Rodgers. If Dallas’ healthy-again front and Sean Lee press behind the line of scrimmage, Dak Prescott will have the opportunity to dominate time of possession. Expect the Cowboys O-Line to work through the Packers front seven, allowing Ezekiel Elliot to set a powerful tone. From there Dak needs to dial in on matchup advantages with Beasley over the middle, and Dez Bryant on Ladarius Gunter, with just a touch of extra playoff motivation for Bryant. The Cowboys won’t slip all of Rodgers’ shots, but do weather the storm and counter enough to advance. Dallas 33, Green Bay, 26

Jonah: Dallas’ last appearance in the playoffs happened to be when they went on the road to face the Green Bay Packers in the 2015 divisional round. I don’t need to remind anybody as to why that game is so memorable, but fast-forward to this Sunday, the roles are reversed in the 2017 divisional round. The game will be played at “Jerry World,” as the Cowboys earned the top seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.  Green Bay went 4-4 on the road this season, but they are coming into this divisional-round rematch with an impressive 38-13 victory against the New York Giants. If Aaron Rodgers is able to get as much time in the pocket as he did last week, the Cowboys will lose. The Giants were unable to put much pressure on Rodgers, and he torched them as a result. Dallas needs to get their pass rush going early, and David Irving could be just the player to do it again. In the Cowboys’ 30-16 win against the Packers in week five of the regular season, Irving was named NFC defensive player of the week with three forced fumbles. Another key player to watch is the return of cornerback Morris Claiborne. He returns this week from a pelvic injury that sidelined him for eight weeks, and if he can play like he did early this season, I have no doubt that he can shut down Davante Adams on the outside. On the offensive side of the ball, Dallas matches up much better with Green Bay than they do with the Giants. The Packers do not have the stout run defense to control Ezekiel Elliott, and they are probably going to double Dez Bryant with either Morgan Burnett or Ha Ha Clinton-Dix over the top because of their lack of a shutdown cornerback on the outside. The Cowboys are going to be able to sustain long drives and put up points against the Packers, but the real question is if they can stop Aaron Rodgers from making this a shootout. I don’t think they are going to stop him, but they will control him just enough to advance to the NFC championship. Dallas 27, Green Bay 21

Cami: I’ve gone back and forth on this matchup the entire week, particularly due to each defense. Aaron Rodgers is playing at a completely different level than when the Cowboys faced the Packers at Lambeau Field earlier this season. Dallas must find a way to create pressure on Rodgers from inside, and even still will likely have to force a turnover or two to slow down this red hot Packers offense. However, the Cowboys should be able to control the clock with Ezekiel Elliott which will ultimately keep Rodgers off the field. Many predict this to be a shootout, but it actually could be a fairly lopsided game in Dallas’ favor if they’re able to close out long drives like we’ve witnessed them do the majority of the season. There’s several unknowns as to how the rookie duo will do in a playoff atmosphere or whether or not the bye week will have a lingering impact on any of the Cowboys players, but the Packers defense just doesn’t have the personnel to limit Linehan’s offense on Sunday. Dallas 31, Green Bay 20

Playoff Picks

Bobby: Seattle, Pittsburgh, New England

Laurie: Atlanta, Kansas City, New England

Jonah: Atlanta, Pittsburgh, New England

Cami: Atlanta, Pittsburgh, New England

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