The best part of January: playoff football.
The Green Bay Packers are one of the hottest teams in football right now, winning their seventh straight game last week in the NFC Wild Card round against the Giants. Now they’ll travel to Dallas to take on the top-seeded NFC team for a shot at next week’s NFC Championship game.
How the Green Bay Packers can win…
Future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers — a Super Bowl champion already — is one of the game’s best postseason quarterback. The 33-year old tossed a league-leading 40 touchdowns this season, and has thrown 22 touchdowns with zero interceptions dating back to the team’s 42-24 loss at Washington on Nov. 20 (last time GB lost a game). It’s been an incredible run, that’s for sure. But what worries me is Green Bay’s defense. Prescott has just four interceptions all season, and has been sacked only 25 times. If Green Bay is unable to put pressure on him, it may be hard to force some turnovers and put the ball back in Rodgers’ hands. Even with two rookies without any playoff experience, this will be a tough offense for the Packers to slow down. New York only managed 13 points last week, but Green Bay surrendered 20+ points in each of the team’s last three regular season games, 30+ points in five games and 40+ points twice this season. Let’s not forget Prescott marched into Lambeau in Week 6 and dropped three TDs while Elliott ran for 157 yards in a 30-16 win.
How the Dallas Cowboys can win…
Dallas, led by rookie duo Dak Prescott at quarterback and Ezekiel Elliott at running back, has a top five scoring offense and top five scoring defense this season. At 13-3, two of the team’s losses this season came against the New York Giants and the third one came without Prescott and Elliott against Philadelphia in the Week 17 match-up. So, I think it’s safe to say, the Cowboy have had a great season and won a lot of football games. They haven’t lost at home since Week 1, and with this afternoon’s match-up coming at AT&T Stadium and not Lambeau, Dallas is in good shape. As long as Prescott limits mistakes — as he’s done all season — and Elliott breaks 100-120 yards, I think this offense is potent enough to keep pace with Rodgers. Green Bay’s 21st-ranked scoring defense may not be strong enough in the secondary to keep this Dallas offense to under 30 points.
Our Pick: Cowboys, 34-31
It’s so hard to pick against Rodgers and the Pack in the postseason. Had this game been played at Lambeau, I’d take Rodgers. But I think this may be the first time Dallas gets over the hump and makes a Conference Championship appearance for the first time since 1995 (they won the Super Bowl over Pittsburgh that season).
Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images