Week 9 matchup: Cowboys at Packers : Packers Insider

Week 9 matchup: Cowboys at Packers

November 3, 2010 by  
Filed under News

Nov 3, 2010 ~ by Tom Silverstein for The Sporting News

~Top three story lines

Down and out. The 1-6 Cowboys are off to their worst start since the 1989 season and have little to play for but pride. Is that enough to beat the Packers, who are coming off their biggest victory of the season? The Packers are still nursing injuries and could be vulnerable, but they’ll be stoked for their final game before the bye.

Shared struggles. Which offense will put the ball in the end zone? The Packers’ passing game is off-kilter, WR Donald Driver is out with a thigh injury and there’s a chance they’ll continue to struggle scoring. The Cowboys put up plenty of yards in two games with QB Jon Kitna, but four interceptions and many blown chances showed they’re hardly a dangerous offense.

Run around. Neither team runs the ball well. The Cowboys were awful last week, while the Packers had nominal success on the ground against the tough Jets defense. Green Bay’s run defense was outstanding last week and should be on its game again this week.

Three key Packers

CB Sam Shields. There’s a good chance Shields is going to get a heavy dose of rookie WR Dez Bryant. That’s a size mismatch in favor of the Cowboys, and the Packers are probably going to offer help over the top. The speedy Shields has been playing well, but this might be his toughest matchup of the season.

OT Chad Clifton. After four outstanding performances, Clifton struggled against the Jets. At 34, he is going to have days like that, but he can’t have one of those Sunday. He’ll see OLB DeMarcus Ware quite a bit, and the coaches may feel confident enough to let him block Ware one-on-one. The Cowboys also could put Ware on the other side and try to take advantage of rookie Bryan Bulaga.

WR Jordy Nelson. The coaches can’t rely on James Jones, and this might be the game Nelson grabs the No. 3 spot from Jones. He’s playing more and more but has had trouble with drops. He has good size for a slot receiver and isn’t afraid to go over the middle. With Driver out, he’s going to have to pick up some of the slack.

Last year against Dallas, Charles Woodson almost single-handedly won the game for the Packers, 17-7. Here he is strip-sacking Tony Romo, which led to the Packers first touchdown in the 4th quarter. Romo is out injured for Dallas, leaving Jon Kitna as the Cowboys starter this week and perhaps the rest of the season. Kitna's not bad, and he had 3 interceptions last week go off the hands of his own receivers.

Three key Cowboys

CB Terence Newman. The Cowboys would like Newman, who has been slowed by a rib injury, to be healthy enough to cover WR Greg Jennings. Newman had to leave the Jacksonville game because he couldn’t run without pain. If he can’t play or isn’t at full strength, Jennings could work the middle of the field and beyond all game.

TE Jason Witten. He should have a good matchup with LB Brandon Chillar, who specializes in covering tight ends. The middle of the field has been an area the Packers have given up, and Witten could have a huge day. He has developed a good chemistry with Kitna and should have opportunities in man coverage.

OTs Doug Free and Marc Colombo. The two will share the load against OLB Clay Matthews, the NFL’s sack leader. Two weeks removed from a hamstring pull, Matthews should be better than he was a week ago.

Bottom line

The Packers have put together back-to-back, hard-fought victories and seem to be on the way up. But they’re still banged up and they know they have a bye coming up, so there’s a chance there will be a letdown. The Cowboys have to play better at some point this season. Expect it to be close. Prediction: Packers 27, Cowboys 24.

— SN correspondent Tom Silverstein

Read more: http://www.sportingnews.com/nfl/story/2010-11-03/week-9-matchup-cowboys-at-packers#ixzz14F7E0K5T

Help Us! Comment about this Packer Article

This is a community of fanatical Packer fans. Please tell us what you think about this post....