Dallas Cowboys Countdown to Green Bay Packers

WHEN:  3:25 p.m. Central Time

WATCH: FOX (Joe Buck & Troy Aikman)

LISTEN: Dallas Cowboys Radio Network; Sirius 82, XM 82; Cowboys app

FOLLOW: @BobbyBeltTX@CamiAnnG@JonahTulsNFL@therealmarklane

 

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If you’re not getting the game, you must live in San Francisco.

 

10: Cowboys defense’s rank in red zone defense — The Cowboys have allowed the opposition into the end zone 46.2 percent of the time when they enter the red zone. Dallas will have its hands full as Green Bay is the absolute best red zone offense in the NFL with a 78.6 percent red zone conversion rate. More Mason Crosby appearances inside the 20-yard line mean better chances for a Dallas victory.

 

9: Jason Witten’s rank for receiving yards among NFL tight ends — The 35-year-old has totaled 168 receiving yards and two touchdowns on 19 receptions through the first four games. Witten was targeted 22 times through the first two games to now a total of six targets through the last two, good for two catches for 12 yards. Quarterback Dak Prescott has inordinately targeted receiver Dez Bryant through the first four games. The second-year signal caller needs to look Witten’s way to spread the ball around against the Packers defense.

 

8: Aaron Rodgers’ rank for most passing yards on first down — The Super Bowl XLV MVP has tallied 485 passing yards on first down, good for eighth-most on first down in 2017. It leads into the Egros Theorem: you can convert third downs better by being better on first and second downs. There is no surprise the Packers are third-best in the NFL at third down conversions at 49.1 percent. It helps when you have the fifth-lowest yards-to-go on average at 6.40 yards. Again, it all goes back to first down. Dallas needs to disrupt the Green Bay offense on first down to put them in a bind on third down and quickly chase them off the field.

 

7: DeMarcus Lawrence’s number of sacks — I know: it’s 7.5. I just wish he would get another half-sack soon so his sack total is a whole number again. Anyway, Lawrence has amassed these sacks through the first four games against the likes of Eli Manning, Trevor Siemian, Carson Palmer, and Jared Goff. Among Lawrence’s 16.5 career sacks, three of them have come against Drew Brees (1.0), Aaron Rodgers, (1.0), and Ben Roethlisberger (1.0). Not only that, but he also managed to drop Rodgers as a rookie in the 2014 NFC Divisional playoffs. Lawrence does have a “big game” element to his play. Currently, Green Bay is surrendering 3.8 sacks per game, fourth-most in the NFL, and giving up a sack on 8.5 percent of Rodgers’ drop backs. The opportunities are there to really be the “war daddy” for Lawrence.

 

6 Number of touchdowns score on Cowboys’ first drives in 2016: It’s really simple. Last season, Dallas scored a touchdown on their first drive of the game six times. The Packers are 3-5 since 2015 when opponents take the opening kickoff and score compared to 8-1 when they take the opening kickoff and score. Is the coin toss that critical? Not really, just the Cowboys’ ability to get off to a fast start. Dallas is 6-3 in the Prescott era when they score on the opening possession of the game, but 5-0 when that opening drive ends in a touchdown.

 

5: The round Packers RB Aaron Jones was selected — When Ty Montgomery went down against Chicago, Green Bay turned to fifth-rounder from Texas El-Paso. Jones gained 49 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries for the Packers. Montgomery is listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game. To this point, none of the players listed as doubtful in 2017 have suited up. More than likely, Montgomery won’t go, and the El Paso Burges product will get a chance to see if he can against the Cowboys.

 

4: Number of Packers false starts on the road — What does it matter that Green Bay has committed four false starts on the road, tied for third-most in the NFL this season? Because AT&T Stadium is currently tied for the 12th-best NFL venue for opponent false starts with four. In fact, AT&T Stadium has finished in the top-5 in opponent false starts three of the past five years. Cowboys fans can impact the game during pre-snap, that is, if they didn’t sell their tickets to Packers fans for a quick buck.

 

3: Number of losses Mike McCarthy has against the Cowboys — Two of those were at the hands of Wade Phillips and only one belongs to Jason Garrett. Is it the teaming of McCarthy with his starting quarterback that produces such a result? Arguably, but he even bested the Cowboys 37-36 on Dec. 16, 2013 with none other than Matt Flynn at starting quarterback. And, yes, Tony Romo was healthy and starting for Dallas in that loss. In a sideline-versus-sideline match-up, McCarthy and his staff has shown the ability to out-maneuver Garrett and his staff. The latter will need to coach above their proclivities to beat the Packers.

 

2: Green Bay’s rank for worst red zone defense — The Packers defense has allowed red zone conversions 77.9 percent of the time in 2017, which is 0.7 percent less than their offense’s red zone conversion rate. Now, the Cowboys are in the middle of the pack with a 57.1 p:25ercent red zone version rate, tied with Minnesota and Atlanta for the 14th-best in the NF:L. Over the last three games, Dallas actually has the third-best red zone conversion in the league with a 70.0 percent conversion rate. If the Cowboys could continue that trend, it could lead to the Cowboys’ second win over Green Bay in the last three games.

 

1: The Packers’ rank for third-and-11-plus conversions — Through the first four games, the Green Bay offense has converted 4-of-8 on third-and-11-plus conversions, the absolute best in the NFL. That is not so surprising given the fact Aaron Rodgers is behind the helm. However, the statistic is alarming when coupled with the Cowboys’ third-worst ranking in allowing third-and-11-plus conversions at 5-of-12. The good news is 3-of-5 of those conversions were in Dallas victories, but nevertheless this is a weakness the Cowboys need to shore up.

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