Preview: Dallas at Green Bay

Usually I take a look at each teams' rankings broken down by passing and rushing from NFL.com and Football Outsiders, but since it's only week 3, the rankings at this point in the season don't tell much of a story:

Teams FO Ranking NFL Ranking
Packers Rushing Offense 12 11
Dallas Rushing Defense 17 9
Dallas Rushing Offense 4 14
Packers Rushing Defense 23 22
Packers Passing Offense 7 9
Dallas Passing Defense 17 15
Dallas Passing Offense 1 3
Packers Passing Defense 7 20

Both teams' offenses are very good, not a surprise to anyone, but the defensive stats are all over the place. Is Dallas really below average or do they look below average because of a rough game against Philadelphia? Do the Packers really have a poor run defense or are they being punished because they've had to play half of their games against RB Adrian Peterson so far this season? Is the Packers pass defense really good or do their stats look good after being the recipient of a major 4th quarter meltdown by QB Jon Kitna? Let's just look at some matchups instead.

I've got a bunch of analysis after the poll, click on continue reading below, but because of all the factors in this game, I expect it comes down to the two quarterbacks. Who can make the most big plays and who can avoid any big mistakes. Since nothing has bothered Rodgers so far this season, you can watch Romo hand Philadelphia two TDs in the first half of last week's game here between 1:45 and 2:30 minutes into the highlights, I'm going with Rodgers and the Packers. I think the Packers will get a big lead, but squander it and the final score will be a close Packers win with a big score like 34-31.

QB Aaron Rodgers vs. Dallas pass defense. Nobody has stopped Rodgers yet, so until someone does and finds a way to beat him, I'll assume he can handle Dallas.

RB Ryan Grant vs. Dallas run defense. He doesn't appear to be 100% healthy or they wouldn't keep listing him on the injury report. He will still probably be held to around 15 carries. RB Brandon Jackson had a good game against Detroit, but his career average of 3.8/carry is still uninspiring and he's a questionable pass blocker.

Packers wide receivers vs. Dallas secondary. Dallas has a very good group of cornerbacks, especially Terence Newman and Adam Jones, but their safeties aren't great. I'm not sure how good their linebackers are, but they are starting veteran LB Zack Thomas on 1st and 2nd down and pulling him on obvious passing downs. Jennings, Driver, and the rest of the receivers should have some opportunities against them.

Packers offensive line vs. Dallas defensive line. Dallas plays a 3-4 and are undersized based on current NFL standards. The offensive line should open some rushing lanes, and be able to protect Rodgers. LBs DeMarcus Ware and Greg Ellis are great pash rushers, but no one else comes close to demanding a double team.

QB Tony Romo vs. Packers pass defense. They gotta get after the pride of Burlington. They don't need sacks, but he can be forced to make bad passes. He's thrown 22 INTs in his last 19 games, which is pretty high.

RB Marion Barber vs. Packers run defense. The best way to stop him is to keep their offense off the field and the ball out of his hands. If he has 20 carries, then he will have over 100 yards rushing.

WR Terrell Owens. He's killed them the last two times he's faced Al Harris and the Packers pass defense in 2004 and 2007. The thing that stops him is a great pass rush at Romo.

TE Jason Witten. He's a great receiver, but he's also a great blocker, so he's probably the best tight end in football. The Packers don't have a lot of success stopping tight ends in recent history, so I'm not holding my breath that they can shut him down.

Dallas offensive line vs. Packers defensive line. Dallas has a big, physical, and heavily penalized offensive line that is very good at protecting Romo and opening running lanes for Barber. The defensive line can't handle them alone, and the linebackers will have to blitz and stop Barber.

 

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