Four Downs: Packers-Cowboys preview
Four Downs is back this week for a pretty large game in an extremely large state. Give us a ‘Like’ on Facebook, if you want, and visit our page here. Let’s get this going.
1. John Wayne hates two things: no-good outlaws and empty bottles of whiskey – unless he made them that way, and even then he’s pretty leery of ‘em. That’s not a very good segue-way to anything, but we’d avoid John Wayne on horseback if we were you, Cowboys of Old Times. Anyway, the Cowboys from Dallas this season seem to despise a couple of things too: defense and consistency. And now you see how it all comes together.
The Cowboys are allowing 298.5 passing yards per game, the worst in the league, and 128.4 rushing yards per contest, 28th in the NFL. The extremely smart people at Football Outsiders rank their defense as 30th overall. Okay, so clearly, it’s not good. We’ve established that, yes?
But Cowboys have never lived in glass houses – mostly because all that open horizon looking so close and attainable would lead to a lot of cuts and broken glass – and the Packers shouldn’t either, in this case. Football Outsiders ranks Green Bay’s defense 31st in the league and, we know, they hung on and got crucial stops against the Atlanta Falcons last week, but we guess that just doesn’t hold as much mathematical weight as you’d think. Point being: yes, Dallas isn’t good at the defending thing, but the Packers haven’t been, either.
2. Which brings us to shootouts. Shootouts are fun and pro-Western events, and while we wouldn’t be shocked at all to see one break out on Sunday, we’d worry about the Packers being able to keep up. The extent to which that Dallas defense gets exposed for the two-bit sheriffs of some old dust bowl town that they have been this season could really depend on the ol’ quarterbacking situation in Green Bay. By the time you read this, you may already know if Aaron Rodgers or Matt Flynn will be starting.
Though the Cowboys are 5-1 at home this season, there’s a lot that appears to be a mark in the positive column for Green Bay: indoors, fast track, the most-giving pass defense in the NFL. They should be able to score frequently, and they might have to many times to win. So sure, Flynn could maybe carve up this defense, but with Rodgers, of course, it’d be very much closer to a sure thing. With Flynn, we’d worry about running out of bullets, something The Duke’s six-shooter never did.
3. Wisconsin’s native son, Tony Romo, is having a great year, and it’s certainly hard to blame him when the Cowboys defense allows the Chicago Bears to score on every meaningful possession of a football game. A man can only do so much, and keeping up with Josh McCown in a track meet is certainly not one of them. That said, Dallas is where it seemingly is every season at this point: teetering on the edge of the playoffs and a division crown, one panicked Red Button push away from another Jerry Jones nuclear winter.
They’re just as desperate as the Packers at the moment, and combining these two teams as they are right now – that is, truly weird and violently (for us) unpredictable – really brings the potential way up for some bug-eyed insane, probably-untidy football on late Sunday afternoon. We hope Joe and Troy are prepared for this, and we can only expect that they are more-so than us.
4. The Detroit Lions host the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football, and we’ll know by then whether or not the Packers will have the chance to blindly rob the Lions while they are sleeping of control of the NFC North. Or, if they stand to miss a mega opportunity with a Detroit loss, or, in the worst case, if the Lions can move them to the brink of playoff extinction.
But hey! This is one more week of hoping for the best. A loss last week to the Falcons would have all but eliminated any real shot whatsoever. For now, this week, we’ve still got hope and, improbably, a still-open window for sneaking into the postseason.
We wouldn’t dream of trying to anticipate anything about this crazy game on Sunday. It’s like John Wayne apparently said: “It’s getting to be ri-goddamn-diculous.” So yeah, he’s right. But being not-boring is something, isn’t it?
(On the following scale: Ted Thompson is a tough guy to read. In an attempt to pay homage to his flat style of delivery, we will couple our pick with a 1-5 rating scale of our confidence translated into Thompson Confidence, which, we feel, is just as ultimately silly and tough to derive meaning from as choosing a score.)
Honorary Ted Thompson ‘I feel confident’ scale of confidence: 1.97 ‘I feel confident’-s out of 5. For those scoring at home (read: no one): Add two points to the scale and joy into our heart if Rodgers starts.