When Sunday rolls around, the energy at Lambeau Field alone will be enough to power the smallest, most Title-endowed city in the NFL for a month. The Cowboys return to Lambeau for the first time since the Ice Bowl in 1967. It’s the playoffs, win or go home and Packers fans have believed since before the season began that “one-and-done” would be no way to end the 2014 season. With that said, “Git ‘er done” is the mantra as the Packers must take down the Cowboys Sunday afternoon.
What has this season proved to us?
Early this year, the Packers run defense was dismal and the offense was thwarted by top defenses. We won at home but when we played good teams on the road, we couldn’t seem to put it all together. Here’s where I’m at with this season as the Cowboys come to Lambeau:
1. The Packers defense has shored up the run game, Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews have been play-makers and that is not even to mention guys like Datone Jones, Guion, Daniels etc. who have also stepped up their games and helped changed the attitude on this defense. However, unlike probably everyone else in the nation…I think the Cowboys will start this game with a heavy dose of Tony Romo. Yes, Murray will run the ball, of course, but I think the Cowboys will feel a sense of urgency to score with hopes of riding Murray to the finish line with a lead. This will require more passing and the Packers will need to do a good job against Dez Bryant and Jason Witten to force the ‘Boys back into their shell. The name of the game is pressure on the quarterback as we have said before the season began. Of course the defense’s first priority will be the run, which is part of the reason I expect the Cowboys to throw the ball more than others would expect. I also think that in the back of their minds, the Cowboys do not want Tony Romo to have to force the ball to a score at the end of this game.
2. This game is the final proof in the 2014 season that the Packers can beat…anybody…at home. If the Packers beat the Cowboys they can beat anybody at home…even the team that has never been beaten on the road this year. Do not miss the importance of this statement…the Packers can beat anybody at home…don’t rule out the possibility that the Carolina Panthers beat Seattle and the road to the Super Bowl can still go through Green Bay. If the Packers can beat anyone at home…what do you think will happen if it turns out that the Panthers move on?
The continuity between Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers, between Aaron Rodgers and his receivers and backs, and the continuity of this offensive line speak to the fact that the Packers can score in many ways at any time. If the defense plays well early, and the Packers jump out to an early lead, the Packers could force another nightmare Tony Romo season end.
There is still the question whether the Packers can go on the road and beat a good team…but that is a question to be answered after this Sunday.
- The game is played at Lambeau. This may seem obvious but cannot be overstated. Forget about the past, this is 2014 and the Packers play lights out football at Lambeau right now.
- The Dallas Cowboys had all they could do to beat a Lions team that the Packers beat soundly when Aaron Rodgers was playing injured. Think about this…both the Cowboys and the Packers played the Lions in their respective homes, but the two outcomes were very different if you look at the two games. The only time the Lions had a chance against the Packers was when Matt Flynn was behind center. So the most important question coming into this game is the health of Aaron Rodgers.
- After a huge, emotional, come-from-behind win at home, the Cowboys will be emotionally spent. I rarely bet on a team after a big emotional win…why? It is very hard to get back to that emotional level regardless of your training or pay grade. It’s just a fact of human nature. The Packers, on the other hand, have had a bye week to cool down, reset, and prepare. One thing I love about the Packers is the fact that they never get too high and they never get too low. Credit our qb for that…”R-E-L-A-X”.
So while this Sunday’s contest could be a tough one, could be epic. I for one can’t wait. I can’t wait to see this team go out and prove that this past offseason and a lot of the work that Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy and the scouting staff and players have put in…is paying off.