After a blowout win at home vs. the Bears, the Packers will travel to Dallas to try to knock off the Cowboys at home for the second time in a calendar year. The Cowboys come off a 35-30 loss at home in which the Rams offense erupted for 412 yards of total offense. It is no secret that the Cowboys defense has taken a step back from what it was last season. The Packers, on the other hand, have made a considerable jump on defense allowing an improved 20.5 points per game these first 4 weeks. The Packers look to get healthy with their mini bye week ahead of their game Sunday afternoon.
In this post, I will examine 5 key players to watch in the Packers upcoming game against the Dallas Cowboys. Two players will be on offense, two will be on defense, and one will play for the other team. One player will be considered the X-Factor for his large impact on this game. Lets go!
1. WR Jordy Nelson
Jordy Nelson leads the league in touchdown catches thus far this season. He is on pace to catch 20 touchdowns by the end of this season. While that number is already very impressive for the 32 year old Nelson, when you factor in the fact that Nelson missed basically an entire game versus the Falcons. Nelson figures to be a prime player to watch with the uncertainty that Davante Adams will play. Aaron Rodgers will have to lean on Nelson as his primary outside target if Adams cannot go, with Geronimo Allison also making contributions.
2. RB Aaron Jones: X-Factor
Aaron Jones is this weeks X-Factor for obvious reasons. Jones went into last weeks game as the third running back on the depth chart, but was later thrust into the role as the teams primary and only healthy running back. Jones finished the game with 13 carries for 49 yards and a touchdown. Jones work on film looked very impressive from my perspective, he created opportunities when it looked like there was nothing there on multiple runs. We all heard the announcers talking about Aaron Rodgers high praise for Jones, and how he considered him “a different kind of running back”. Jones is not similar to the other backs on the roster, plain and simple. He has outstanding agility and explosiveness, as you can tell by his numbers at the combine which were nearly identical to that of Christian McCaffrey. I’ve been a huge fan of this guy all summer and it has been great to see him get some carries.
It is uncertain if Ty Montgomery will play this Sunday, but I tend to think he will not. Even then, Jones may not get the start in favor of Jamaal Williams. Nothing against Williams, but I’ve seen more from Jones as a runner, and he is definitely a better fit in the offense. If Jones has a breakout game, this will be it. His effectiveness will be a major story line in this game.
3. S Morgan Burnett
How great has this guy been this season? Extraordinary. Morgan Burnett has played all over this defense, and done a quality job in every role. He began the season playing a lot of inside linebacker, but with the emergence of Josh Jones at that spot Burnett has found himself playing more safety and slot cornerback. Burnett will play a vital role in run support against Dallas with their potent rushing attack. He will also be tested in coverage because the Cowboys can also move the ball through the air effectively.
4. DT Mike Daniels
Have you heard? Mike Daniels literally said that he would play Sunday as I was writing this, which prompted me to add the big fella to my 5 players. Daniels ate the Seahawks offensive line alive in Week 1. We have not seen much of him since injuring his hip early on in Week 2. Daniels could not have come back at a better time for the Packers. The team will now be able to pair him with the likes of Kenny Clark, Nick Perry, Ahmad Brooks, and Quinton Dial to stop the run. I truly believe this game will be won and lost based upon how the Packers fair stopping the run. With the Cowboys line likely missing Tyron Smith and already having struggled this season, Daniels could feast similarly to the way he did Week 1.
5. WR Dez Bryant
I’ve talked enough about the importance of stopping the run in this game, lets take a look at the passing game. Before I proceed, I’d like to address the elephant in the room and say that Dez did not in fact catch it. Dez Bryant isn’t the player he used to be, but he is still a talented player. The man torched our lackluster cornerbacks in the last meeting, but will likely draw the coverage of Kevin King and Davon House in this game. If Dez has a big game the Packers may need to change their defensive game plan which may result in Zeke Elliot running all over this team.
I have a hard time believing that the new look Cowboys offensive line will allow Zeke Elliot to run wild on the Packers. I do think that they will find some success through the air. The Cowboys defense has shown me nothing that suggests 12 and company won’t be able to put up a lot of points/ We may be in for a shootout in Dallas…