With the Dallas Cowboys pulling off a comeback victory after being down 10 at halftime, they will advance to the NFC Divisional round to face the Green Bay Packers. This is the first time these two teams will meet in the postseason in Green Bay since the Ice Bowl in 1967, and kick-off is set for 1:05 pm ET.
A heavy-weight fight between two of the better teams in the league will ensue, and as we head into the week of preparation, let's start with a general overview of what to expect from Dallas next weekend.
The Cowboys have three lineman that were selected to the Pro Bowl: Tackle Tyron Smith, guard Zach Martin and center Travis Frederick, with Smith and Martin being selected as first-team All Pros (Frederick was a second-team selection). Despite a struggling performance on Sunday to protect Tony Romo againt the Lions' pass rush, resulting in him being sacked six times and pressured on many plays, the unit is still one of the best in the league. Romo was only sacked 30 times in the regular season, while Dallas established the second-best running game in the league, averaging 147.1 yards per game. This will be the toughest matchup in the trenches for the Packers' defensive line all season.
Physicality. Elevation. Power. These three things are some elements of what makes Dez Bryant a top wide receiver in the league. How Green Bay covers Bryant will be something to watch, with him likely getting a safety over the top every time he heads down field. In the regular season, Bryant had 22 catches for 20-plus yards, tying him for fifth among receivers. He also led the league in receiving touchdowns with 16, making him the first Cowboys player to lead the league in that stat since Terrell Owens. Red zone, down field, wherever he is, Bryant will be under the microscope.
A defensive resurgence
Last season the Cowboys had one of the worst defensive units in NFL history. Dallas gave up a swarming 415.3 yards per game last season, while only sacking opposing quarterbacks just 34 times. They've performed much better this year, with linebacker Rolando McClain being a steady anchor for them. McClain is a favorite to win NFL Comeback Player of the Year after recording 65 solo tackles (81 total), which was second-best on the team behind Barry Church, who finished with 77 solo and 97 total. Finishing second in the league with 31 total takeaways, Dallas will look to force the Packers to make mistakes, but Green Bay on offense has committed the second-fewest turnovers in the regular season with only 13, tying the New England Patriots for the least amount league-wide. Who will make that stat irrelevant? We'll see.
We'll have more insight and analysis during the week before the game, so stay with us at APC as the playoffs continue.