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Wild Card Weekend is upon us. Thanks to some sterling work done by Dallas last week, they finished second in the NFC meaning they get to host this weekend’s playoff game. The Dallas Cowboys face a Green Bay Packers team that started to gain momentum toward the end of the season, but Dallas is a team that hasn’t lost at home this year. In fact, the Cowboys home winning streak is the longest such streak currently in the NFL. Which offense is better though? Let’s break it down by position and find out.

QUARTERBACK
Dak Prescott
vs.
Jordan Love

Dak couldn’t have ended the season any better than the way he did last week. He played through part of the fourth quarter and during that time he threw four touchdowns, finished with a 86% completion rate and threw for 279 yards. Dak’s completion rate last week was the highest he’s had in a game this season along with his 21 first downs. His 123.2 passer rating was fourth highest this year (his highest rating came on Thanksgiving, also against Washington). This week the Cowboys face Green Bay, a defense that finished within the top-ten in fewest passing yards allowed. They’ve also allowed 21 passing touchdowns this year, that’s the exact same amount as Dallas. But there’s also something else to take into account with the Green Bay passing defense. It ranks second-last in total interceptions and tenth-worst in total sacks. They’re also allowing the seventh-worst passer rating in the league and all of this is for one major reason, teams rarely throw against them. In fact, the Packers have an average of only 30 pass attempts against them per game, that’s fourth-fewest in the league.

Jordan Love hasn’t had a bad season for his first year as the starting quarterback in Green Bay. He finished the regular season seventh in passing yards, second in passing touchdowns (four less than Dak), and threw 11 interceptions. In the last fours games, Love has thrown zero interceptions to nine touchdowns, and he did all that with a misfit collection of wide receivers, some missing considerable time due to injury, and also with two rookie tight ends. But this week he faces a huge obstacle, the Dallas Cowboys defense at home. The Cowboys defense is allowing the fifth-fewest passing yards this season, but at home they allowed the fifth-lowest passing rating and the fifth-fewest passing touchdowns.

Conclusion:
Dak has had an incredible season this year. He leads all quarterbacks in a number of statistical categories, most importantly in touchdowns. Jordan Love has done a great job this year also, but he has the tougher defense to face while playing on the road.
Win: Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys v Washington Commanders

Photo by Kara Durrette/Getty Images

RUNNING BACK
Tony Pollard/Rico Dowdle
vs.
Aaron Jones/AJ Dillon

People had a large target painted on Tony Pollard’s back last week with concerns reaching their peak over the Cowboys running game. It’s not to say after last week’s game those feelings have subsided, but watching Pollard run the way he did last week did put a small notch of confidence back in his abilities. He ran for 70 yards last week against the Washington Commanders and before halftime he was averaging 5.9 yards per carry. He also added two receptions for 16 yards and scored one touchdown. But it was the explosive plays that really impressed last week with Pollard, something that’s been missing all year.

Adding to the run game was Rico Dowdle, who played well and looked like the injury was causing him no concern. On top of his 46 rushing yards last week, Dowdle also finished third on the team in receiving with 54 yards. The pairing will have a serous workout in this week’s game as the Packers run defense is their kryptonite. The defense is allowing the fifth-most rush yards and seventh-most rushing touchdowns this year. On the road this rush defense has seriously had problems slowing the opposition’s run game down, allowing an average of 145 rush yards per game and sixth-most rushing touchdowns.

Availability is the best ability they say and Aaron Jones missed significant time due to injury this year. That’s meant he’s finished the regular season 36th among running backs in rushing yards and only scored two touchdowns. Here’s the rub though, he’s rushed for 358 yards in the last three games; that’s concerning for Dallas. A.J. Dillon took over the majority of the snaps at running back while Jones was out. He only scored two touchdowns and averaged 3.4 yards per carry this year, proving how he’s best suited as a rotational back. The Cowboys defense in the last three games has allowed the third-fewest rushing touchdowns, and that’s a tough task for an offense that has scored the third-fewest rushing touchdowns this year. A.J. Dillon is dealing with a stinger and it’s unknown if he’ll play this week.

Conclusion:
Tony Pollard out-rushed both of Green Bay’s running backs. But in the last three games the Packers running backs have really piled on the yards rushing for the fourth-most yards.
Win: Push (unless Dillon is out)

Chicago Bears v Green Bay Packers

Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

WIDE RECEIVERS
CeeDee Lamb/Brandin Cooks/Michael Gallup
vs.
Jayden Reed/Romeo Doubs/Christian Watson

Lamb ends the season as the franchise record-setter in receptions and receiving yards for a single season, overtaking Michael Irvin. Lamb only finished 50 yards shy of Tyreek Hill’s receiving yard total for most receiving yards this season. He finishes the year first in receptions, second in yards, second in touchdowns, first in yards-after-catch, second in first downs and his 92-yard receiving touchdown was the longest of the season among wide receivers.

Brandin Cooks keeps on scoring and the back half the year he really came into his own on this offense. At the start of the year people questioned his fit on the offense, but thankfully they found a way and he finished eighth among wide receivers in touchdowns. After last week’s touchdown, he’s now scored in each of the last three games. His 657 receiving yards this year puts him third on the team in yards, but it’s also the lowest he’s had since 2019. His touchdown total is second-most in his career. The playoffs though is where it matters most, and for a guy like Cooks to be on a scoring streak could pay dividends for his desire and confidence. Dallas ranks third in the NFL in passing yards, and at home their average of 305 passing yards per game is the most (over 15 yards more than the second-most). Naturally this is also the case with passing touchdowns where Dallas ranks tops in the NFL, and at home.

The Packers wide receivers are a collective that have done well under the circumstances. Leading the way on the team is rookie receiver Jayden Reed who has the most receptions, yards, touchdowns and yards-after-catch. Slowing him down is essential both in the air and on the ground as he’s scored twice on rushing plays this year. Romeo Doubs is in doubt whether he’ll play this week. He left the game early last week with a chest injury. Christian Watson has missed a whole lot of time this season and he’s now questionable to play this week after the team has kept him out with a hamstring injury. That could mean the team leaning on another rookie on their roster, Dontayvion Wicks, who’s scored four times this year.

Conclusion:
We can’t put this any simpler, CeeDee Lamb. With him on the roster and out there playing it’s plain sailing when it comes to the wide receiver battle. The only setback here is the fact Green Bay leads the league in passing touchdowns on the road. But that’s countered by the fact the Cowboys defense is allowing the fourth-fewest passing touchdowns at home.
Win: Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys v Washington Commanders

Photo by Kara Durrette/Getty Images

TIGHT END
Jake Ferguson
vs.
Luke Musgrave

The tight end position started the season with many questions marks for Dallas. It ended with Ferguson finishing second on the team in receiving. Among NFL tight ends he finished ninth in receptions, eighth in receiving yards and third in touchdowns. His blocking was solid enough and was improving throughout the season, which means and it looks like the Cowboys has found their next career tight end. It was a rapid improvement for Ferguson so the future looks bright for the Wisconsin warrior.

Luke Musgrave was a name most people mentioned in Dallas to help elevate some of that preseason doubt at the position. The Cowboys went another way though and Musgrave ended up in Green Bay. He missed a major portion of the season with injury. As such he finishes his rookie regular season 30th in yards and only scoring one touchdown.

Conclusion:
Jake Ferguson has s been fun to watch on the field. His blocking needs some refinement, but where he’s at right now in comparison to Musgrave’s blocking is miles apart. Luke Schoonmaker finishes the season with more touchdowns than Musgrave, and the same amount as Tucker Kraft who filled in for Musgrave, all three of these players taken in the same draft.
Win: Cowboys

Detroit Lions v Dallas Cowboys

Photo by Perry Knotts/Getty Images

OFFENSIVE LINE
Just wait for draft season when Cowboys fans talk about offensive linemen, it’s certainly coming. But to stay positive let’s at least be happy in the fact the offensive line allowed zero sacks last week and looked better in terms of run blocking. It’s reported Tyler Smith will be ready to play this week, that’s a huge plus, and also Zack Martin will return after missing last week’s game with an illness. So that means the line is at full strength coming into a week that needs as much strength as it can muster to establish the run game. Win the battle in the trenches and the war can be won. Keep close watch on the right side of the line, the combo work done by both Martin and Terence Steele has picked up the last few weeks. The offensive line finished the year ninth in pressures allowed and face a Packers pass rush that finished 16th in sacks. On the road the Packers recorded the seventh-fewest sacks this year.

Green Bay finished the year allowing one less pressure than Dallas and allowed the third-fewest sacks. In terms of run blocking though, this line needs some serious work. It’s not one of the worst lines in the NFL, but it’s not far off. The coaches most definitely emphasized in developing the line for pass blocking, making the unit a strong unit at protecting Love. But that’s come at the detriment of the run blocking. The way to put this is Dallas wins in run blocking, Green Bay wins in pass protection.
Win: Push

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