Sometimes life has a funny way of presenting challenges. For the Dallas Cowboys, there are few things worse than what faces them today.
The Dallas Cowboys are not only facing a tough opponent. They are facing a tormentor. A bully of sorts. Someone who just has a way of always stealing victory from the jaws of defeat. Week Five brings the Green Bay Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers to town.
Neither records nor the talent of this opposition matters simply because No. 12 is back there. The Cowboys have bested Rodgers just twice in nine attempts and only once this decade. The past two games have been unusually cruel, both coming in the friendly confines of AT&T Stadium. Whether it’s the regular season or postseason, Rodgers simultaneously gives Cowboys fans nausea and nightmares.
So here is Dallas, coming off their worst performance of the young season, needing to get back on track while facing one of their biggest fears. If the Cowboys are to overcome Rodgers and get back in the win column, replicating their last win against Green Bay would be an ideal game plan.
In 2016, then-rookie quarterback Dak Prescott had a big-time game, especially since it was just his sixth as a pro. Throwing for 247 yards and three touchdowns, with just nine incompletions, Dak did more than enough to help a dominant rushing attack.
Running back Ezekiel Elliott punished the Packers with 157 rushing yards in a game Dallas never trailed. Most importantly, their defense was able to sack Rodgers once and force four turnovers in a game that they held a double-digit lead the entire second half.
Today, that formula would go a long way in helping Dallas move to 4-1 while dispatching a fellow NFC opponent. The easy part would be a repeat performance from Prescott and Elliott. Despite last week’s complete bomb, both have been their normal selves in 2019.
Prescott is in the top five in passer rating, completing 72.4% of his passes, throwing for 1,143 yards with nine touchdowns and three interceptions. Elliott, meanwhile, has two 100+ yard rushing games in four tries while still trying to find his way after no training camp. He has also not eclipsed 100+ yards when facing Green Bay.
In three games versus the Pack, Zeke has run for 157, 125 and 116 yards, although he has failed to score a touchdown against them. The hard part will be forcing four turnovers against Green Bay.
For one, they have just four all season. For another, Rodgers is quite possibly the best quarterback in the history of the game when it comes to taking care of the football. If Dallas is to force any turnovers, they will likely come from someone else besides 12.
Ultimately, the Dallas Cowboys will win this game if they do the following three things.
- They have to be successful running the ball. Green Bay is 26th against the run, coming off a game in which Philadelphia, with an average rushing attack, gashed the Packers for 176 yards. If the Cowboys cannot get their ground game going, it’s going to be a long afternoon.
- Dallas cannot let Rodgers go wild. Receiver Davante Adams will miss this contest with turf toe meaning the weaponry Rodgers has at his disposal will be extremely non-threatening. If Geronimo Allison and/or Marquez Valdes-Scantling have huge games, Dallas deserves to lose.
- The Cowboys cannot allow Rodgers to have the ball at the end of a close game. In fact, if they just want to avoid a close game altogether, that would be best. Allowing Rodgers to have any shot at all in the fourth quarter never goes well for this team.
Both teams are desperate for victory. For the Cowboys, they need to show themselves and the NFL world they can beat a good team. For Green Bay, their next batch of games, including this contest, are formidable with one exception.
Aside from Dallas, they have an improved Detroit Lions team coming off a bye at home next week with road dates at Kansas City, San Diego and San Francisco on the horizon. There is no doubt this game will be one to watch. Hopefully, for the Dallas Cowboys and their fans, they won’t have to look away.
Prediction: Green Bay Packers 21, Dallas Cowboys 27