Final thoughts before Packers face Mike McCarthy’s Cowboys

Oct 6, 2019; Arlington, TX, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) runs with the ball in the tird quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 6, 2019; Arlington, TX, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) runs with the ball in the tird quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports /

After playing in five different stadiums in five weeks, including a three-game road trip, the Green Bay Packers are finally back at Lambeau Field to welcome in Mike McCarthy and the 6-2 Dallas Cowboys.

As part of my one last look at the upcoming game, I have my final thoughts on the Packers matchup with the Cowboys.

– The Packers’ offense is its own worst enemy, but they’ve had to go up against some very good defenses this season as well–which certainly doesn’t help a bad offense. Entering Week 10, nine of the top 12 defenses in points per game allowed are on the Packers’ schedule this season. Dallas ranks third.

– The Cowboys are also coming off a bye, while the Packers are wrapping up a three-game road trip.

– Led by Micah Parsons, this Cowboys’ pass rush is fierce, ranking first in sacks and pressure rate this season. As we’ve often seen from the Packers this season, expect a lot of quick passes and tight end chips to help out the offensive line.

– With that said, the deep ball needs to be an element as well. Defenses are going to continue to press the Green Bay receivers and shrink the field until proven that’s a bad idea. This, of course, will make moving the ball only through the quick game quite challenging. Because of the pass rush, the Dallas secondary plays very aggressively.

– The Dallas pass rush will be a massive challenge, but this group has struggled to defend the run, ranking 22nd in yards per rush allowed (4.7) and 29th in ESPN’s run-block win rate metric. Running the ball, specifically giving the ball to Aaron Jones, will be a must. There’s no reason he shouldn’t have 25 touches today.

– As I said last week prior to the Detroit game, get Christian Watson running more vertical and crossing routes. Even without a ton of targets, his speed can impact the game with the attention he draws.

Receiver depth is again in question for the Packers. Without an elevation on Saturday, it would seem that Amari Rodgers is going to play, but that leaves the Packers with just five active receivers for this game as they are without Romeo Doubs and Randall Cobb still.

– Just like Green Bay should be wanting to run the ball, Dallas will do the same. This is a run-heavy team behind Ezekial Elliot and Tony Pollard, who is averaging over six yards per rush and one of the best at yards after contact per PFF ($$). A weak point on this Cowboys team is their pass-blocking, so putting them in obvious passing situations should lead to some success for the Packers’ defense.

– With Quay Walker and Isaiah McDuffie as the starting linebackers, look for the Dallas tight ends, specifically Dalton Schultz, to have a big game. He has 11 targets over the last two games.

– It will be interesting to see how the Packers choose to defend CeeDee Lamb. This season, 60% of his snaps are from the slot, per PFF. So does Jaire follow him there? If so, that would then require Keisean Nixon or Corey Ballentine to be on the boundary next to Rasul Douglas, which seems less than ideal. Or it will either be Darnell Savage or Nixon matched up on him inside, which then seems like a mismatch.

– Speaking of Savage, how do the Packers deploy him? Will he be back at safety? Or is Johnathan Abram far enough long that he can see some snaps and take over next to Adrian Amos?

– Without Rashan Gary, it’s going to require Joe Barry to dial up more pressures through blitzes, stunts, or twists. This is a Packers’ defense that primarily relies on the defensive front winning their one-on-one matchups to get after the quarterback.

– This is a sound Cowboys’ special teams unit, which as we all know, could lead to problems for the Packers. While they are improved under Rich Bisaccia, Green Bay still has its miscues.

– I hope Lambeau Field gives Mike McCarthy an incredibly warm welcome back.

– This is the first of a three-game stretch where the Packers’ opponents are a combined 19-5, with all three defenses also ranking in the top 10 in points per game allowed. Being 3-9 a few weeks from now is very much in play for the Packers.

– Due to Mason Crosby dealing with a back injury, the Packers will carry two kickers on the game-day roster after elevating Ramiz Ahmed from the practice squad. Crosby will handle extra points and field goals while Ahmed will do the kickoffs.

Prediction: Packers 13 – Cowboys 24. I think this game is somewhat close through the first half, but eventually, Dallas will pull away. The Green Bay defense simply won’t be able to get enough stops as the offense sputters.