NFL Playoffs: Dallas Cowboys at Green Bay Packers Preview

Demarco MurrayWith a spot in the NFC championship on the line, two teams that are no stranger to titles, the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers, head to Lambeau Field for a win or go home showdown (Sunday, 1:05pm EST on FOX).

There is so much to love about the matchup between the Cowboys and Packers, starting with the fact that Dallas is a perfect 8-0 at road and the Packers are, you guessed it, a perfect 8-0 at home.

Despite some early season struggles, no one wearing anything other than green and yellow, came into Lambeau Field this year and left with a win. The hometown Packers, recorded a perfect record in Green Bay, complete with statement wins over the also playoff-bound Carolina Panthers, New England Patriots and Detriot Lions, who lost in the first round to the Cowboys.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys, did something most teams didn’t this year. They played better on the road than at home and recorded statement wins against the divisional rival Philadelphia Eagles and the NFC’s top seed, the Seattle Seahawks.

While many things can be credited to the success of both of these teams, there is one commonality. Both were led by quarterbacks who blew away the field with their incredible stats.

Tony Romo on the Road vs Aaron Rodgers at Home

By the numbers, Cowboys’ QB Tony Romo, was simply a road warrior this year. Of his career and league-high completion percentage of 69.9 overall, Romo was even better, completing over 70% of his passes, on the road. As for the other numbers, only two of Romo’s nine interception’s and 20 of his 34 touchdowns were on the road. His QB rating was a 121.8 on the road versus a 103.8 at home in Dallas.

As good as those numbers are as a standalone, when you compare what Romo has done on the road against what Rodgers has done at home, there really is no comparison.

  •  Aaron Rodgers at HOME: 8 GP, 161 CMP, 2,334 YDS, 67.1 CMP%, 25 TD, 0 INT, QB RAT- 133.2
  • Tony Romo on the ROAD: 8 GP, 161 CMP, 1,933 YDS, 70.6 CMP%, 20 TD, 2 INT, QB RAT- 121.8

Only in completion percentage does Romo have an edge. In every other offensive stat, Rodgers owns the numbers. Not only is his team perfect on the road but his arm is too. No other quarterback has 0 interceptions at home this year and doing so while also tossing 25 touchdowns is truly one heck of an accomplishment.

Fortunately for Rodgers and his average of close to 300 yards per game at Lambeau, Dallas ranked as the 26th pass defense in the league, giving up over 250 passing yards to opposing offenses. The defense, albeit improved over the last few games, has not quite faced a QB and an offense as potent as Rodgers. The nearest comparison was Drew Brees, who burned Dallas for 340 yards.

Even if Rodgers is not 100%, which is the expectation given his aggravated calf injury, you still have to ask yourself, which one would you rather have as your QB this Sunday? For me, that answer still has to be Rodgers.

Battle of Weapons

Another similarity between the Cowboys and Packers is the fact that both teams have at least one receiver that has essentially caught every ball tossed their way this year. Luckily for Green Bay, they actually have two.

Jordy Nelson, a seven-year veteran out of Kansas State, has been one of Rodgers’ favorite targets ever since he was drafted back in 2008. The 29-year-old caught a career high 98 receptions for a career high 1,519 yards. His 13 touchdowns were the second highest mark of his career, but they led the team.

Second up for the Packers was Randall Cobb, a four-year vet out of Kentucky. Cobb, who electrified the scene a few years ago as a kick/punt returner, has become a full member of Rodgers’ impressive arsenal. This year he caught 91 receptions for 1,287 yards and 12 TD, all career highs.

Continuing on the theme of guys having career years comes Dallas’ leading man, Dez Bryant. The five-year receiver out of Oklahoma State had a breakout year with over 1,300 receiving yards, 88 receptions and a career high 16 touchdowns. He was a deep play threat all year and helped Romo in some key situations, including in a three touchdown performance in what turned out to be the division-clinching game against the Eagles.

In a matchup of top guys, Bryant went against Detroit’s Calvin Johnson last week but neither really won. Bryant had just three catches, only one of which was for a significant chunk of yards and Johnson had just five catches for 85 yards. Neither had a touchdown.

Against the Green Bay defense, Bryant might once again have a tough matchup. The Packers finished the regular season as the 10th best defense in stopping the pass and held Johnson to just 10 receptions for under 120 yards in two games.

Is Demarco Murray Burnt Out?

There is a clear edge to give to the Packers’ offensive front especially at Lambeau, but despite Eddie Lacy’s strong end of season push, the clear advantage in the running game belongs only to Demarco Murray (pictured above).

With over 1,800 yards on the ground, Murray had a season on par with some of the best runningbacks in history. He opened the season with eight straight 100+ yard games, an NFL record and added four more such games before the end of the season. Only the Eagles kept Murray under 100 yards on the road.

In his first playoff game, at home, Murray’s numbers were significantly less. He had just 75 yards on 19 carries, leaving some to wonder if the overuse during the regular season is leading to a burnout for the 26-year-old back. Still, the playoff victory marked the sixth consecutive week Murray scored a touchdown, pointing to the team’s stronger reliance and confidence on him.

Moving forward, if in fact the Cowboys do, this could be something to follow in advance of Sunday’s and any further games. After all, the Packers’ 23rd ranked run defense, giving up an average of over 119 yards per game, could give Murray another 100+ yard game on the road.

Dallas Cowboys vs Green Bay Packers Preview Betting Picks

The odds favor the Packers by six points and I think it’s wise to take that bet. Green Bay is undefeated at home, has the stronger complement of weapons and overall has a defense better suited to match up against its opponent. Dallas is a good team, but the Packers are better. There is a reason why they are perennial players in the NFC playoffs.

  • Bet on the Green Bay Packers -6pts @ best odds of -105 with Bovada Sportsbook. They are -110 for the same spread with BetOnline and 5Dimes.
  • The total points spread stands between 51.5 and 52.5pts depending on which sportsbook you look at. Bet on over 51.5pts with 5Dimes Sportsbook @ betting odds of -110. With these two teams and their propensity for offensive outbursts, this could and should be a high-scoring affair.