2015 NFC Divisional Playoffs
Dallas Cowboys at Green Bay Packers
Lambeau Field – Green Bay, Wisconsin
Sunday, January 11, 2015, 1:00 pm Eastern, TV: Fox
Opening Line: Green Bay -6 1/2
Current Line: Green Bay -5 1/2
Opening Total: 53
Current Total: 52 1/2
Opening Money Line: Packers -280 / Cowboys +225
Current Money Line: Packers -250 / Cowboys +210
Two of the NFL’s most prestigious franchises meet Sunday in the NFC Divisional playoffs as the 12-4 Green Bay Packers host the 13-4 Dallas Cowboys. Green Bay beat the Detroit Lions in the last game of the regular season to clinch the NFC North Division title and the #2 seed in the NFC playoffs. The Packers were rewarded with a much needed first round bye. Dallas won the NFC East and were the #3 seed in the NFC playoffs. The Cowboys beat the Lions 24-20 last week at home in the Wild Card playoff game despite trailing 14-0 early. The winner between the Cowboys and Packers will face either the Seattle Seahawks or Carolina Panthers in the NFC Championship game last week. This game is even more interesting because Dallas is 8-0 on the road and Green Bay is 8-0 at home this season.
Since 2004, Green Bay leads the series against Dallas 4-2. The Packers have won 3 straight games against the Cowboys including 37-36 in Dallas last season. The Cowboys lead that game 26-3 at halftime. This is the first playoff game between the Cowboys and Packers at Lambeau since Green Bay won the famous “Ice Bowl” game in 1967. Dallas has won 5 straight playoff games against Green Bay since then (all in Dallas) but they haven’t played since the 1996 NFC Championship game.
Dallas is coached by Jason Garrett. The Cowboys lost at home to the San Francisco 49ers 28-17, Washington Redskins 20-17 in overtime, Arizona Cardinals 28-17 and Philadelphia Eagles 33-10. The Cowboys have road wins at the Tennessee Titans 26-10, St. Louis Rams 34-31, Seattle Seahawks 30-23, New York Giants 31-28, Chicago Bears 41-28, and Eagles 38-27, and Redskins 44-17, plus home wins over the New Orleans Saints 38-17, Houston Texans 20-17 in overtime, Giants 31-21 and Indianapolis Colts 42-7. Dallas has won 5 straight games. Dallas is 10-7 ATS and the total is 9-7-1 this season. The Cowboys were 6 point favorite against the Lions and the total was 47.5.
Green Bay is coached by Mike McCarthy. The Packers have road losses at the Seattle Seahawks 36-16, Lions 19-7, New Orleans Saints 44-23 and Buffalo Bills 21-13. Green Bay has won 7 of their last 8 games including two straight. The Packers have home wins over the New York Jets 31-24, Minnesota Vikings 42-10, Carolina Panthers 38-17, Chicago Bears 55-14, Philadelphia Eagles 53-20, New England Patriots 26-21 Atlanta Falcons 43-37 and Lions 30-20 in the last game of the regular season. Green Bay has road wins over the Bears 38-17, Miami Dolphins 27-24, Vikings 24-21 and Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20-3. The Packers are 9-6-1 ATS and the total is 11-5 this season. Green Bay was an 8.5 point favorite against Detroit and the total was 46.5.
Dallas is outscoring teams 29-22 this season. The Cowboys are #5 in scoring and #15 in points allowed. Dallas is averaging 384 yards per game on offense including 237 passing and 147 rushing yards per game. The Cowboys are #7 in total offense and #2 in rushing. Dallas is allowing 355 yards per game including 252 passing and 103 rushing yards per game. The Cowboys are #19 in total defense and #26 in pass defense. The rush defense is #8 though. Dallas is 98/207 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 99/224. Dallas has 28 sacks and has allowed 30 this season. The Cowboys are +6 in turnovers. Dallas has three defensive touchdowns and has allowed three this season.
Dallas quarterback Tony Romo is battling small fractures in his back after undergoing offseason back surgery and also a fractured rib. He has played the last 8 games after missing the Arizona game. Romo has completed 69.9% of his passes for 3,705 yards with 34 touchdowns and 9 interceptions, plus 61 rushing yards. He had the highest December quarterback rating in NFL history and Romo is generating some late MVP buzz.
Running back DeMarco Murray is putting up some MVP like numbers of his own and has 392 carries for 1,845 yards and 11 touchdowns, along with 57 catches for 416 yards. He won the rushing title, but has had some fumbling issues. Murray suffered a broken hand late in the win against the Eagles. He underwent surgery to repair the break on his left hand. He has started the last two games. Joseph Randle has 51 carries for 343 yards and 4 touchdowns. Lance Dunbar could also get some carries. He has 99 rushing yards and 18 catches for 217 yards.
Receiver Dez Bryant has 88 catches for 1,320 yards and 16 touchdowns. Terrance Williams has 37 catches for 621 yards and 8 touchdowns. Tight end Jason Witten has 64 catches for 703 yards and 5 touchdowns. Cole Beasley has 37 catches for 420 yards and 4 touchdowns. Gavin Escobar only has 9 catches but 4 touchdowns. Eleven defensive players are listed on the injury report.
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Green Bay is outscoring teams 30-22 this season. The Packers are #1 in scoring and #13 in points allowed. The Packers are averaging 386 total yards per game including 266 passing and 120 rushing yards. Green Bay is #6 in total offense and #8 in passing and #11 in rushing. On defense, Green Bay is allowing 346 yards per game including 226 passing and 120 rushing yards per game. The Packers are #15 in total defense, #10 in pass defense and #23 in rush defense. Green Bay is 97/207 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 98/234. The Packers have forced 41 sacks and allowed 30 this season. Green Bay has 6 defensive/special teams touchdowns and has allowed 3 this season. The Packers are +14 in turnovers.
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers has completed 65.6% of his passes for 4,381 yards with 38 touchdowns and 5 picks, plus 43 carries for 269 yards and 2 touchdown. Rodgers strained his calf late in the season. He aggravated the injury in the win over the Lions and briefly left the game in the second quarter. This week it was announced Rodgers not only has a severe strain but the calf muscle is partially torn. Rodgers is listed as probable despite the injury, but it isn’t clear how effective he will be. He is a contender for league MVP if not the favorite. Remarkably, he has not thrown an interception at Lambeau since December 2012. If Rodgers somehow can’t go, then Matt Flynn is the back-up.
Running back Eddie Lacy has 246 carries for 1,139 yards and 9 touchdowns, along with 42 catches for 427 yards and 4 touchdowns. James Starks has 85 carries for 333 yards and 2 touchdowns, plus 18 catches for 140 yards.
Receiver Jordy Nelson has 98 catches for 1,519 yards and 13 touchdowns. Randall Cobb has 91 catches for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns. Davante Adams has 38 catches for 446 yards and 3 touchdowns. Andrew Quarless has 29 catches for 323 yards and 3 touchdowns. Seven defensive players are questionable or out.
Dallas is 5-0 ATS on grass, 8-1 after allowing 350 total yards or more, 7-1 in road games, 4-1 overall, 9-4-1 against teams with winning home records, 5-12 in January, 2-7 in playoff games, 1-5 in playoff road games and after allowing more than 250 passing yards. The over is 6-2 in this series recently.
Green Bay is 4-0 ATS against teams with winning road records, 3-0-1 after gaining more than 350 total yards, 5-1 after rushing for more than 150 yards, 6-2 in playoff games and in January, 22-8-1 against teams with winning records, 7-3 against teams with winning records, 7-3 against NFC teams, 37-16-1 on grass, 9-4 overall, 34-16-2 at home. The home team is 9-2 ATS in this series recently and the favorite is 8-3. The Packers are 4-1 ATS at home in the last 5 against the Cowboys.
The Dallas defense has overachieved slightly this season in that isn’t historically bad as projected by many. Last week after the Lions scored touchdowns on their first two drives, Dallas defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli made adjustments and Detroit only scored six points for the rest of the game. Even a gimpy Aaron Rodgers should be able to exploit the weaknesses on defense. Green Bay also struggles on defense especially against the run, and Dallas should be able to move the ball. Despite the frigid weather, I see a lot of points in this game and I think the Cowboys stay within the number.