Cowboys’ four trends to beating Green Bay
GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Cowboys have arrived in Green Bay today and before going to the hotel are checking out Lambeau Field. It’s a smart move by coach Jason Garrett designed to remove some of the "mystique” of the place a day in advance.
But, says Jeremy Mincey, the Cowboys already understand the nature of this playoff-game business trip.
"We’re not going there for a history lesson," Mincey said. "We’re going there to play some football.”
Indeed, Dallas’ trips this year have already made this a special season for a 13-4 team most experts thought would win half that many games. And those trips are among the Four Trends that suggest an opportunity for a Cowboys upset of the Packers on Sunday.
1. The Cowboys are just the sixth team in NFL history to go 8-0 on the road. Green Bay is 8-0 at home.
Which matters more?
There have been six teams since 2012 alone that have gone 8-0 at home.
When you are a road power, history smiles on you. Five of the previous teams who were undefeated on the road ended up making it to the Conference Championship Game, while four of them made it to the Super Bowl.
2. The Cowboys believe in momentum … and though it’s counterintuitive, history favors teams that win a playoff game while their upcoming foe sits.
Dallas performed throughout December as if all four of those games were of playoff-level importance, and went 4-0, outscoring opponents by an average of 18 points and averaging more point in that month than any team in NFL history. Dallas landed a berth in the Wild-Card Round and beat Detroit while the Packers rested and watched and waited, and get this: Six of the last nine Super Bowl champs played in the Wild-Card Round of the playoffs.
In short, maybe you don’t need rest … to be the best.
3. The Cowboys have the NFL’s leading rusher in DeMarco Murray and this year averaged 147 rushing yards per game, second-best in the league. They will unleash this edge behind an offensive line featuring a trio of All-Pro blockers who have combined to lessen the demands on QB Tony Romo to be Houdini.
Meanwhile, while the Packers’ run defense has improved in recent weeks, it spent the year as a bottom-10-ranked group for the season. When Murray has faced a bottom-10 run D, he’s rushed for 100 yards each time … And Dallas has won each time.
4. But what about the weather in Green Bay, expected to hover just under 20 degrees? Surely that represents a home-team advantage.
You would think so. Yet when Murray plays a cold-weather game (sub-32 degrees) he’s got 32 carries for 232 yards, a yards-per-carry average of 7.25. The Cowboys have wins in the chilly climes of New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Washington this year …
And shockingly, in the coach Mike McCarthy era, the Packers aren’t especially good in cold weather, anyway.
When McCarthy’s Packers play at Lambeau in sub-20-degree weather, their record is a stunningly mediocre 5-4-1.
There is no way to discount the overall excellence of quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his Packers; in their seven games against defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli when the now-Dallas coach ran the Bears D, Rodgers had a 6-1 record and a 101.5 passer rating.
The MVP candidate Rodgers has a calf injury and yet the Packers are a justifiable 6.5-point favorites on Sunday.
But when Cowboys coach Jason Garrett says, ‘I believe we’re built for this kind of game. No question about that" … There are reasons — at least four of them — to not discount that sentiment as well.