Packers vs Cowboys: Week 5 Matchup

Aaron breaks down both sides of the ball in his preview of Sunday's showdown with the Cowboys. 

Matt LaFleur brings his 3-1 Packers team down to Dallas to take on the Cowboys, who also sit at 3-1, on Sunday afternoon. With both teams coming off their first loss of the season, you can expect a few wrinkles and adjustments from both teams to try and get back on the winning track. 

Here's a look at what to expect from both sides of the ball and my sure-to-be-incorrect call on who wins the game. 

When The Cowboys Have The Ball:

The Packers catch a huge break this week with the Cowboys missing starting left tackle Tyron Smith, who got rolled up on at the end of their loss to the Saints last Sunday night. 

Stepping in for Smith will be Cameron Fleming, who represents a significant downgrade. Either Za'Darius or Preston Smith should be able to take advantage of Fleming in obvious passing situations. 

Of course, Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore would like to ensure they stay out of those situations as much as possible and will undoubtedly attempt to ride Ezekiel Elliott and the running game throughout the afternoon. Staying ahead of the sticks will be key for the Cowboys and I fully expect them to utilize wham blocks and counter action to get Elliot going.

The Eagles took big time advantage of the Packers up front using wham blocks in particular, and having put that on tape, you can expect teams to serve up a healthy dose of them until the Packers show its not going to be as effective as it was last Thursday night. 

One big way the Packers can combat not only those designs but the Cowboys running game in general, and turn around the ugly trend from the last three weeks where teams have put up some big numbers on the ground against them, is getting by causing more disruption up front. Looking at the tape of the Eagles game, there seemed to be way too much reading and reacting on the defensive side of the ball, which enabled the Eagles to basically execute things as they were designed. Mike Pettine mentioned the need for guys to shed blocks quicker.

For my money, the Packers need to blow things up up front and throw the design of the play off schedule with a lot more regularity. Enough with letter the offense dictate the flow of each play.

I talked a bit about this earlier this week:

Of course, one big storyline this week will be former Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb facing off against his former team. Cobb catches the Packers at a good time.

With Kevin King doubtful to play and Tony Brown already declared out, I suspect the Cowboys will look to get a number of different combinations of multiple wide receiver groupings on the field to force Pettine to bring in some of his untested depth. Guys such as Josh Jackson, Kadar Hollman or Chandon Sullivan could see some extensive playing time when the Packers go to their dime looks. And I fully expect the Cowboys to try and run out of these multiple wide out sets as well. The Packers defensive backs better be ready for a physical afternoon. 

While much will be made about the 26th ranked rushing defense trying to stop Elliot, for good reason, the marquee matchup for me will be Jaire Alexander taking on Amari Cooper, who is dealing with a foot injury. I don't expect Alexander to travel with Cooper exclusively, but you can bet they'll be matched up more often than not. 

When The Packers Have The Ball

With Davante Adams out, the time has come for Marquez Valdes-Scantling to put together a complete game. He's had moments and shown flashes, but if the Packers are going to win this game, he's going to have to give Green Bay a full sixty minutes of focus and production. 

Jake Kumerow coming back from a shoulder injury that kept him out the last two weeks could do wonders for a team that needs its depth to step up in a big way. 

Of course, asking Aaron Rodgers to throw the ball 51 times, as he did last week against the Eagles, is no way to live. The Packers have to figure out a way to get something out of Aaron Jones on the ground, which is easy to say but will be harder to do against a Cowboys defense that has allowed only 3.15 yards per carry in their last three games. Jones can expect to find some more tough sledding, much as he did against the Eagles. 

The Cowboys don't do a lot when it comes to their scheme. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli has a few core calls he likes and he pretty much sticks with them and his team executes the hell out of them, especially at home. 

Rodgers has given Marinelli all sorts of problems throughout his career, especially recently, and I don't expect much to change on Sunday. The Cowboys will undoubtedly utilize a two deep safety look for much of the game, daring the Packers to run the ball. When LaFleur watches as his team runs into brick wall after brick wall, he will have no choice but to go to the air. Maybe not 51 times, but something pushing in that direction. Can the Packers win that way?

One thing I hope we see more of this Sunday is Danny Vitale in the passing game. The guy showed up day after day in training camp when it came to making plays through the air but so far this season he's been limited to one sweet wheel route call and a bunch of check down action. With Adams down and the team in need of a boost in production from other sources, this game presents the perfect opportunity to unleash him. 

Enough Already, Who Wins?

Getting a few extra days to reset and recalibrate should give the Packers the stuff they need to go down to Dallas and pull off the upset. Elliot will get his yards, but the Packers defense will get back to forcing turnovers and give Rodgers an extra possession or two. Getting a lead will be a big key for Green Bay, I think they do it and win a close one. 

Packers: 28 Cowboys: 27

9 points

Comments (8)

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Charvid's picture

October 04, 2019 at 05:43 pm

I see G-Mo getting 80+ yards on 6 catches or so. Aaron Jones should get 100 yards from scrimmage, being utilized in the passing game. If Graham can chip in 40-50 yards and MVS the same, we should be OK. I also think the D is due for a score. We should hit 30 points. Hopefully our Special Teams can carry their weight.

0 points
flackcatcher's picture

October 04, 2019 at 06:02 pm

Shorter Flack: Packers have the ball. BOMBS AWAY!!!! Line can't run block worth a damn, Jenkins been exposed and your best OG is on IR for the year. Pass like crazy. (dumping campy was a serious mistake) Good news, Dallas secondary is at best average. Bad news. Aaron Rodgers get to revert back to the meme. Could be a long year for MLF. (somewhere Mike McCarthy is having a long cool one, and LOL his head off....) Defense: PRAY hard. VERY hard: This defense is on the verge of being wiped of it core starters in both the line and secondary. Need to get thru with one one else injured. TOO thin with little to no depth at all positions. (NOT going to mention LB. Nope nope nope not going there..) WHO WINS: Not a clue. Going with Nagler on this one. (HEY, that wasn't short at all, nuts.....)

-7 points
Thegreatreynoldo's picture

October 05, 2019 at 11:46 am

Jenkins is fine. Turner is getting exposed. Pray Bulaga plays and Bakh gets back to being dominant, which he hasn't been, not even close. I am relying on Kumerow to get some chain-moving receptions - nothing flashy. Insert Vitale at times and liberally have an RB running some routes. Get Tonyan going with some chips-and-releases and wham blocks in the run game. Hope MVS can get open deep (it would be nice if he could do more than that) and that Allison can generate some separation. Definitely get Shepherd some snaps.

Pettine is going to have to put the CBs on an island and play Savage single high. Probably play 5-1-5 still but more 5-2-4. Lowry has been a disappointment since he got his money. Lancaster is flat outplaying Lowry. Play the better player. OC Travis Fredericks hasn't been playing well, so Clark needs to make hay this time. Frederick missed all of 2018 with an injury. Time for M. Adams to show up if he is recovered sufficiently.

Dallas beat Miami, NYG, and Washington. Two of those teams are putrid and one is below average: the teams Dallas beat are a combined 2-10. The Giants have both of those victories, and their wins came against Tampa Bay (32-31) and the hapless Redskins. TB isn't bad, I suppose. Dallas probably beats NO sans Drew Brees if Dallas doesn't have 3 turnovers to NO's one turnover. WR Gallup is a nice looking player who is returning from arthroscopic surgery on his knee, having missed week 3 and 4. Cobb has had several drops (per cowboyswire).

Robert Quinn is interesting: he has 3 sacks in two games (Miami and NO) after being suspended for the first two games due to PEDs. Dallas picked him up for a 6th round pick and one year at $8M (lost a million due to the PEDs suspension). He can pass rush, but GB should run right at him. A good blocking TE can handle Quinn on runs - wish GB had one. Look for a lot of wham blocks on Quinn. I think of Quinn as ancient, but he is only 29.

0 points
murf7777's picture

October 04, 2019 at 06:59 pm

Give some Vitale and Jones in the backfield and get the run game going. Get 4-5 yards on first down is key whether design quick pass to RB or thru the run. That will make the play action dangerous against an average backfield.

2 points
Bearmeat's picture

October 04, 2019 at 08:01 pm

I think the potential is very real that the good guys get curb stomped in this game. We can't run. We can't stop the run. Our 2nd CB is out. Our star WR is out. Their best OL is out... But we have owned them recently....

Man. I have no clue. GPG.

3 points
SterlingSharpe's picture

October 04, 2019 at 09:20 pm

We have 1 ILB, Blake Martinez.
They have Landon Vander Esch, Jaylon Smith (some say that's the best ILB duo), and Sean Lee.

I don't understand why we have ignored the ILB position since AJ Hawk in the 2006 Draft.
Oren Burks was a shocker. Nobody saw that coming.
And we still have never seen why he was taken so high.

4 points
ILPackerBacker's picture

October 05, 2019 at 12:05 pm

because thanks to he who must drool the packer defense was a disgusting mess at 8 positions......and the DB was worse than LB....and instead of taking players like a LB who plays LB (drafted by MN) that drooling fool took projects and position changes.

He must of loved the 'guru' thing people like pete and tom were throwing at him, and until the end, boy troy as well

0 points
SterlingSharpe's picture

October 04, 2019 at 09:23 pm


1 points