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Cheese Curds, 1/11: Packers need to get creative in run defense and passing game

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Green Bay faces two of the league's best units on Sunday, one on Dallas' offense and one on defense.

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Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Green Bay Packers have plenty of tough matchups in this weekend's NFC Divisional Round game against the top-seeded Dallas Cowboys, but two of them in particular will be major challenges if they hope to advance to the next round of the playoffs.

First up is the Dallas running game, with Ezekiel Elliott running behind the vaunted Cowboys offensive line. Elliott shredded the Green Bay defense for nearly 160 yards in the teams' week 6 meeting, and if he gets to that number again it's tough to imagine the Packers winning the game. While Dom Capers used a number of different coverage concepts on Giants wideout Odell Beckham, Jr. last Sunday, he'll need to mix it up in the box this week to keep Dallas from gashing his unit on the ground.

Meanwhile, the Packers face another tough secondary this week, and it still looks unlikely that Jordy Nelson will be able to play. If he does sit out, the offense will need to find a different player who is able to pose a threat along the sidelines, where Nelson has done a great deal of his damage. Many of the Packers' healthy receivers are bigger threats underneath or over the middle, so expect the throws outside the numbers to be a concept that the team works on this week in practice.

Check out articles on those topics and much more in today's Cheese Curds.

APC Podcast, Divisional Round

Jordy Nelson will be tough to replace on throws along sidelines - ESPN
Nelson still might play, but if he can't, his play on the edges of the field will be the tough thing to replace. The Packers made most of their big plays on in-breaking routes against the Giants, but Nelson's 59 catches outside the numbers led the entire NFL this season.

Green and Bold: It Begins and Ends with Run Defense | Cheesehead TV
Early on, expect the Packers to commit at least one extra defensive back to the box to stop Ezekiel Elliott from breaking out on the ground, which will likely leave the corners in one-on-one coverage with the Cowboys' receivers.

Ranking all 32 NFL secondaries this season | PFF
Aaron Rodgers picked apart PFF's number two secondary last Sunday, so there's no reason he shouldn't be able to do the same thing against the Cowboys' number one unit this coming weekend. Meanwhile, the Packers improved to be a top-20 unit, with the safeties unsurprisingly leading the way.

What You Might've Missed: Mixing it up on Beckham |
Sure, LaDarius Gunter deserves a lot of credit for his coverage of Odell Beckham, Jr., but Dom Capers used a lot of different and creative coverages to keep the Giants' top receiver in check.

Janis spearheads Packers' special teams surge |
One of the critical elements of Sunday's game against the Giants was the field-position battle, as the Packers' first touchdown came on a drive that started from New York's 38. Jeff Janis was a key part of that on punt coverage, and he added an excellent kickoff return as well.

All 16 potential Super Bowl matchups ranked from best to worst -
The Packers' matchups land at #3 (Chiefs), #7 (Steelers), #9 (Texans...?) and #13 (Patriots). Only the Texans matchup would be a new Super Bowl matchup, though, as the Packers beat the other three franchises in their only games with a Lombardi trophy on the line.