It’s not going to be Ice Bowl cold, and it’s not going to be Ice Bowl close. The Green Bay Packers have been felled by the Dallas Cowboys three times in a row in the playoffs and have suffered losses the last two times Lambeau Field hosted a playoff game, but history only repeats itself when its players resemble one another. In short, the Cowboys are a lite version of their 90s juggernaut and play a drastically different game than the stingy Giants team that defeated Green Bay in those aforementioned home games. For all that is not about this game, the defining factor is, unsurprisingly, what is.
Much has been made about the historical implications of the game: the 8-0 records that Green Bay and Dallas have at home and on the road, respectively, must obviously cause one to leave with a blemish. The injuries plaguing both teams, however minutely, still cast a shadow over the week’s coverage. But anybody watching the Steelers-Ravens game knows that, when the playoffs are on the line, even probably-concussed players somehow make it back into the game. But in that game, Pittsburgh was actually doing better with backup Gradkowski in for Big Ben – and this leads me to the keys of the game.
Green Bay: Trust Matt Flynn
Matt Flynn might not see a single snap this game. But if he does, becoming a glorified hand-off machine to Eddie Lacy will all but guarantee a Green Bay loss. Aaron Rodgers is the game’s best quarterback, but the Packers system is enough to make up for any plays during which Rodgers may be forced to sit out.
Green Bay: Take risks
Green Bay can’t let the game get close or, God forbid, they fall behind. With one of the league’s most efficient offenses, going for it on fourth downs has the ability to demoralize Dallas while giving the Packers the opportunity to score more points. Mason Crosby’s inefficiency a few season ago still haunts me, so I’d like to see nothing left up to chance.
Dallas: Throw early
Mirroring what I said earlier about Matt Flynn being a hand-off guy, allowing the Packers defense to get in a rhythm on DeMarco Murray will be devastating to the ‘Boys. By aggressively passing to Dez Bryant early, it’ll keep Green Bay honest and possibly even put them behind.
Dallas: Rush the QB
As a Packers fan, the scariest sight is Aaron Rodgers doing anything but standing. By pressuring him with their intense linebacker core, Dallas will force the Packers to abandon their incredible long-distance passing game in favor of keeping their irreplaceable quarterback healthy. If Rodgers enters into any type of rhythm, this game will be over quickly.
My prediction: Green Bay – 32, Dallas – 20