Cowboys-Packers Preview: Expect a Classic
For all of us who thought the NFL could bully Time Warner and Comcast into carrying the NFL Network so that the country could watch the biggest NFC regular season matchup in more than 10 years…
We (as in the 74.1 million out of 112.8 million homes with a TV, or 66 percent of the country that WON’T get to watch the 2007 NFC Championship Part 1) lose. Only those in the Dallas Fort Worth or Milwaukee and Green Bay area will have access to the game.
For the first time in a long time, I’m glad I live in Dallas.
The heart of the matter is that the big cable outlets refuse to pay the NFL Network fee of 70 cents a month per cable home. That cost would have to be passed on to all subscribers, including those who are NOT NFL fans. Never mind that those people have SERIOUS issues—the cable companies argue that NFL Network programming, other than the eight regular season games broadcast, has little to no value for customers.
This puts a huge black mark on the league, as the Packers and Cowboys have two of the biggest—if not THE —biggest–fan bases nation wide who are being shut out of the most crucial game of the regular season for their teams. As Jesus Quintana would say, “Laughable man.”
At least Jerry is on the case and no cease and desist letter by Time Warner can stop him from preaching a cable revolt.
Oh yeah, about that game.
Most people are aware of how good the Cowboys are at this point. Their offense is a smooth running machine and their defense is improving weekly.
Most people, including Vegas, seem unaware of how good the Packers are mostly because, aside from Brett Favre and maybe Donald Driver, they couldn’t pick a Packers offensive player out of a police lineup.
The Packers offense has been just as deadly as Dallas’ the last month and Favre has been having his best statistical season ever. He has cut down on his INTs and is not forcing bad throws. But what truly has given this Packers team a three-dimensionality on offense is been the emergence of running back Ryan Grant.
The knock on Green Bay early in the season was that they had no running game. Grant has now given them one.
Romo has become the Dallas franchise QB that fans and management has been looking for since Aikman retired in 2000. He has already tied the Cowboys record for TDs in a season with 29. Terrell Owens is arguably the best wide receiver in the game right now and the Cowboys running duo of Julius Jones and Marion Barber are one of the better running tandems in the league.
The Cowboys are second in total offense; the Packers are third. The Packers are second in passing yards per game; the Cowboys are fifth. However, the Cowboys are 11th in rush yards per game while the Packers are dead last—although that stat is misleading, as the Packers seem to have found a consistent run game over the past month with Grant.
The Cowboys are seventh in overall defense; the Packers are 12th. The Cowboys are fourth in rushing yards allowed while the Packers are 13th. The Cowboys are 21st against the pass while the Packers are 18th.
The Packers, however, have some injury concerns. Chief among them is the questionable status of corner Charles Woodson. He has defied age and proven to be the Woodson of old this year, as he and Al Harris have combined to be one of the best corner duos in the league. Owens and Crayton will have a difficult time if both corners are healthy. Wide receivers have not fared well against the Packers’ secondary.
If Woodson can’t play Thursday, that will create a problem for whoever is asked to pick up his slack. Romo will almost certainly attack that side of the field and force the backup corner to make plays. One of the keys for the Cowboys will be to utilize TE Jason Witten, as the Packers have given up big numbers to TEs all season long.
Brett Favre is 0-8 lifetime at Texas Stadium, including regular and postseason play. It should be noted that the majority of those games were against the Cowboys of the early to mid 90s (also known as THE GREATEST TEAM EVER) when not many teams won at Texas Stadium.
As good as both run games are, both run defenses are equally good, which means that this will be a game won or lost in the air. It isn’t often you get a regular season game masquerading as a playoff game—but this should live up to its hype as home field throughout the NFC playoffs is at stake.
Obviously Vegas is not a believer in the Packers. The Cowboys laying seven, even at home, is a ridiculously high number. This is a supreme insult to the Packers, and they will use this as motivation.
It’s truly a shame that two thirds of the country won’t be watching this. All in all, I think home field will make the difference, but a close one at that…
Green Bay (+7) at Dallas…Pick: Green Bay covers but Dallas wins in a classic
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