ARLINGTON, TX – OCTOBER 08: Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys goes to slide as Cla Matthews #52 of the Green Ba Packers moves in for the tackle in the first half of a football game at AT&T Stadium on October 8, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
The Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys rivalry began when they first met in Dallas’ inaugural season on November 6, 1960. Green Bay topped the Cowboys that day, 45–7. Their all-time record against the Cowboys, including playoffs, is 19-17. There are certain keys to the Packers defeating the Cowboys in Jerry’s World on Sunday. Green Bay must pressure Dak Prescott, shut down Ezekiel Elliott, continue to force turnovers and be aggressive. Aaron Rodgers must also connect with receivers not named Davante Adams.
Keys to Green Bay Packers Defeating Dallas Cowboys
The Packers need to pressure Prescott early and often to get him off focus. The pass rush that took a break last week against the Philadelphia Eagles has to return in Dallas. They need to force Prescott to make quick decisions that end in three and outs or turnovers. Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith need to make him uncomfortable in the pocket, so much so that he feels like he has to manufacture drives. However, if Prescott gets free and has room, he’s going to run. The Packers need to contain him, turn up the pressure, and force him to beat them with his arm.
So far in 2019, Green Bay ranks 26th in run defense. They have allowed opponents to rush for an average of 142.2 yards per game. If this happens on Sunday, the Packers can expect to head home with a loss. They simply cannot let Elliott have space to run all over them. That will make for a long, long game.
Last week on Sunday Night Football, the New Orleans Saints exposed the Cowboys and proved it’s possible to stop their run game. According to Fansided, they “limited Elliott to just 35 yards on 18 attempts, averaging 1.9 yards per carry. They also limited star receiver Amari Cooper to only 48 yards on five catches. The Packers have the cornerback to matchup with Cooper in Jaire Alexander, and that should allow them to focus on stopping the run.”
That is the kind of dominance the Pack’s defense has to muster if they’re going to come out on top this week. If the Packers can render Elliott ineffective, the Cowboys will have to resort to passing. If the Packers can keep Prescott under pressure and feeling off balance, their chances of going into Week 6 with a 4-1 record are high.
Prior to last Sunday’s games, the Packers were tied for first in the league at plus-four in turnover differential. Winning the turnover battle translates to winning games consistently. Obviously, when they give themselves more opportunities to score, and their opponents less opportunities to do so, that could go a long way towards translating to more Green Bay wins. The Packers need to keep these game-changing, aggressive plays going on the defensive side of the ball.
Green Bay reported Friday what everyone expected, that wide receiver Davante Adams did not practice and will not play Sunday due to a turf toe injury. Since Rodgers won’t have his favorite weapon this week, the Packers signal caller will have to find ways to connect consistently with the rest of the receiving corps.
According to ESPN, Rodgers maintains that he believes in Jimmy Graham. The quarterback said, “The trust is high with Jimmy. I’ve got a lot of faith in him. He made a great adjustment on the touchdown in the first half, the two-minute drive. Not something we talked about — he just wheeled it up. I saw him, and he made a nice catch on the ball. I know he probably expects to make one of those two plays there [from the 1-yard line], but I have a ton of confidence in Jimmy.”
If Graham could pull off a monster game of something like two touchdowns and over 100 receiving yards, that would be huge for the Pack.
Adams’ absence will force Marquez Valdes-Scantling to step up, too. Rodgers has been able to lean on Valdes-Scantling in the past. The young receiver has shown up big when Rodgers has really needed him. He is scrappy and determined. Last season Rodgers had to depend on MVS when Geronimo Allison was on Injured Reserve, Adams was playing through a calf injury, and Randall Cobb was struggling with a nagging hamstring injury. MVS took advantage of the opportunity and quickly became Rodgers’ new, dangerous weapon. Through the first four weeks, they seem to be building right off last year’s growing chemistry.
Overall, Green Bay needs to keep their feet on the gas. They can’t let up and expect to coast. Nothing is guaranteed in the NFL. They have to continue to win the games one play at a time. If they’re going to come back home with a win, they need to capitalize on the strengths they’ve already shown this season. They have to bring the pressure and keep Prescott in the pocket, force turnovers, be aggressive, and get their offensive out to a fast start.
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