After falling 15-9 to the Detroit Lions in Week 9, the Packers have now lost five straight games and have virtually been kicked out of the playoff race. Meanwhile, the Cowboys are 6-2 despite not having Dak Prescott for the majority of the season.
The big reason for Dallas’ success has been a dominant defense. The Cowboys have the top-ranked defense by DVOA, including the third-best pass defense and ninth-best rushing defense. They’re currently allowing just 16.6 points per game, the third-best scoring defense in the league.
Micah Parsons has been a huge reason why the Cowboys have been so dominant on that side of the ball. The reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year and first-team All-Pro already has eight sacks and two forced fumbles in just eight games, consistently getting to the quarterback.
Even Parsons’ pressure stats are outrageous. His 39 QB pressures are the fourth-most in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus, and his 91.3 pass-rush grade is second among qualified edge defenders behind only Myles Garrett.
That is an extremely difficult assignment for the Packers, especially their offensive tackles. David Bakhtiari, when healthy, has been playing at a high level, but his inconsistency in the starting lineup has created plenty of problems during the week of practice as the offensive coaching staff tries to prepare a certain starting five to play on Sundays.
On the right side of the line, Yosh Nijman is still getting his feet under him at right tackle. Since making the switch in Week 7 against the Washington Commanders, Nijman has allowed five pressures in three games, including a sack against Buffalo per PFF.
That’s a mismatch that the Cowboys could try to exploit with Parsons, but he could also have other opportunities to shine if the Packers aren’t healthy on their offensive line. Wednesday’s injury report was concerning in that regard, with Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins both missing practice while Jon Runyan Jr. was limited.
If any of those players were to miss time, it would mean that rookie Zach Tom and then likely second-year guard Royce Newman would be out on the field. Newman has earned a reputation for struggling to handle stunts, which could give Parsons an opportunity to get into the backfield with little difficulty if he were forced to play on Sunday.
The biggest storyline among national outlets is head coach Mike McCarthy’s return to Lambeau Field for the first time since being fired by the Packers and taking over in Dallas. However, given how much the Packers have struggled to keep Aaron Rodgers upright with a clean pocket, more analysts should be talking about the impact of Parsons and how he could potentially single-handedly blow up any plans the Packers have on offense.