The Green Bay Packers beat the New York Jets 9-0 in a game that not even many diehard Packer fans expected them to win. Even with five starters out, the Packers defense put together a superhuman effort against the Jets’ vaunted rushing game and the Packers got their first road shutout since 1991.
A win that could be a springboard to a title.
But before the Packers can start planning on a February trip to Dallas, the Packers first must beat Dallas in Green Bay. The Cowboys come to town Sunday night at 1-6 an seemingly self-destructing after losing starting quarterback Tony Romo for six to eight weeks.
All the more reason for the Packers to take the Cowboys seriously. No one needs to be reminded of the Tampa Bay game last season.
Breaking down the Cowboys
Actually, it seems the Cowboys are broken down enough already.
With the Wade Phillips Firing Squad on standby, the Cowboys are reeling. Jon Kitna steps in for Romo and if the last game against the Jaguars is any indication, the Cowboys offense is in even worse trouble than when Romo was healthy.
Of course, the Cowboys offense still has weapons. Their three-headed rushing attack of Marion Barber, Felix Jones, and Tashard Choice still packs some punch. With Romo gone, the running game will have to carry the team.
The Cowboys have talented receivers in Jason Whitten and rookie Dez Bryant, but without Romo they don’t have a quarterback with a strong enough arm to move the ball downfield consistently.
On defense, the Cowboys seemingly can’t stop anyone, which makes this game as good as any for the Packers’ offense to try and get back on track.
Still, with Terrence Newman leading the way for the secondary, the Packers receivers, now sans Donald Driver will have their hands full. DeMarcus Ware will also provide a challenge for Brandon Jackson as well as the short to intermediate passing game.
When the Packers have the ball….
The broken record continues: the Packers need to establish the run. With a weak defense coming to town, the Packers will have every oppoortunity to do so.
Still, coming off the Jets game, it’s important for the Green Bay passing game to get its groove back. While he hasn’t been in a slump per se, Aaron Rodgers knows he has to play better. With him having a sprained ankle, Rodgers mobility could be limited so the Cowboys will likely blitz heavily.
When the Cowboys have the ball….
They will basically try to run the ball down the Packers’ throats. Until Kitna gets comfortable, the Cowboys will be as one dimensional as the Packers except in the opposite direction.
Still, Kitna gave the Packers headaches on occassion wheb he played for the Lions. Look for Capers to dial up the pressure and force Kitna into some mistakes.
Three keys to the game
1. Avoid the letdown
We say the same thing every time the Packers face a trap game. With losses this season to Washington and Miami, it seems the Packers haven’t fully shaken the sting off from the Buccaneers loss last season.
Here’s another chance. Win this game and the NFC North is the Packers’ for the taking.
2. Get Rodgers on a roll
If coach Mike McCarthy can gets Rodgers rolling and in a groove, the Packers can dominate. The sooner he gets out of this mini-funk, the better the team is. While he is by no means playing awful, Rodgers can play better. He has to.
3. Big ‘Mo
The Packers look eerily similar to the team that went 7-1 in their final eight games. The win over the Cowboys at home springboarded the Packers into the playoffs last year.
Can history repeat itself?
Packers 17, Cowboys 9
The Packers defense continues its lights out play while the offense continues to adjust to injuries. Without Driver, Greg Jennings will be the sole big play threat so Jordy Nelson and especially James Jones need to be ready.
It says here they do and the Packers enter the bye on a three-game winning streak.——————
Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke