I've been reading about the Cowboys this week over at Blogging The Boys, and most of the posts are looking ahead to next season. That's not surprising since they're record stands at 1-6, and they'll be lead by 38 year old QB Jon Kitna for (almost) the rest of the season. Unfortunately it doesn't help me figure out how they're playing now, and how they'll play on Sunday against the Packers.
While their injury situation is not as severe as the Packers (the Cowboys only have 1 player on I.R. vs. the Packers 10), their offense would obviously be in better shape if QB Tony Romo were available. A couple recent articles by Mel Kiper and Ben Muth have detailed the problems on their offensive line, but it'll be in better shape if LG Kyle Kosier returns as expected. But no injury forced their receivers to tip three passes into the hands of defenders for interceptions last week.
They may also get CB Terence Newman back from his rib injury, and he would have been a huge help last week to have helped them corral Jaguars WR Mike Sims-Walker. His return might be a long-shot because they released their top pick of the 2009 draft (LB Jason Williams) to make a roster spot available for another cornerback.
Packers offense against Cowboys defense: The Cowboys defense is ranked a respectable 10th overall against the pass and 24th overall against the run, but those rankings are based on yards per game and they are not telling the entire story. Their pass defense is allowing a completion percentage of 65.8, with 15 TDs and an opponents QB rating against of 105.4. Teams are just not attempting a lot of passes against them for whatever reason. It's a similar story with their run defense, which has allowed 4.5 yards per carry. I've been worried about the Packers offense without WR Donald Driver and TE Jermichael Finley, but the Cowboys don't appear to be in any position to take advantage of it. Unfortunately the Packers will still need one member of the inconsistent duo (WR James Jones and WR Jordy Nelson) to show up and have a good game.
Packers defense against Cowboys offense: Is their offense any good under Kitna? On one hand, he's led them on two touchdown drives in each of the last 4th quarters, but on the other hand these happened after the Cowboys entered the 4th quarter trailing by 18 points and 25 points, respectively. And throwing for almost 400 yards against the Jaguars is hardly impressive since they've got one of the worst defenses in the NFL. The Packers run defense has been victimized at times, but it's on a roll after they shut down the powerful Jets rushing attack last week and the Cowboys rarely run the ball anyway.
Special teams: The Packers special teams are still one of the worst, but P Tim Masthay had his best game as a pro last week. The Cowboys have had their own problems, but not with rookie WR Dez Bryant as a returner (2 return TDs on the season).
The state of the Packers offense has me worried, even against a struggling defense. But the Packers still have not been held to under 20 points in any home game this season. Will the Cowboys offense be able to fix all that's gone wrong over the past couple weeks and score some points (other than what they've scored in garbage time)? I'll expect the Packers defense to keep up the intensity, and thereby keep the score down. Packers 20, Cowboys 7.