Dallas Cowboys Countdown to Green Bay Packers

The Cowboys are taking on the Packers for the eighth time in the playoffs. Along with how you can follow the game, here are some key stats to keep an eye on as Dallas looks to make the NFC Championship game for the first time since 1995.

 

WHEN: 3:40 p.m. Central Time

WATCH: FOX (Joe Buck & Troy Aikman)

LISTEN: Fox Sports 1400 Texarkana (KKTK-AM)

FOLLOW: @therealmarklane@RealMattGraves, @fishsports, @nickeatman@kristicowboy

 

 

10: Dak Prescott’s passer rating rank in the last two minutes of each half — With a 97.6 passer rating, Prescott has the 10th-best rating in the NFL in the final two minutes of the first and second halves. If the Cowboys have the ball before the end of the first half, expect Prescott to be able to move the ball and get Dallas either a field goal or a touchdown. If they need a score to win the game, know that he has shown the ability to get it done with his single-season record of five game-winning drives, tied with Tony Romo for the franchise best.

 

9: The Cowboys defense’s rank for opposing passer rating — Opposing quarterbacks facing Dallas this season have compiled a 94.1 passer rating, which is the ninth-worst for a defense in the NFL. Aaron Rodgers this season has a 104.2 passer rating, the sixth-best of his career. In the postseason, when Rodgers is above the 94.1 threshold, he is 6-2 compared to 1-4 when he is held below that mark. If the Dallas defense can’t curtail Rodgers’ play, then Prescott will have to outplay him, a feat that is possible since the Packers defense is seventh-worst in the league at 95.9.

 

8: Number of postseason interceptions Aaron Rodgers has thrown — The Super Bowl XLV MVP has played in 14 postseason games in his career and has only tossed eight interceptions, which is a rate of two interceptions per game. The rate is not a realistic representation of Rodgers’ play as he has had more no-pick games (eight) than games with a pick (six). But it should be a goal for the Cowboys defense as the Packers are 1-5 when Rodgers throws an interception.

 

7: Number of road wins Mike McCarthy has against the NFC East — The Packers are 18-11 against the NFC East in McCarthy’s time with a 7-6 record on the road. McCarthy has a 1-1 record when visiting the Cowboys; a win at AT&T Stadium in 2013 and a loss at Texas Stadium in 2007. McCarthy vanquished the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field in the 2010 NFC Wildcard, and he also has a 4-4 road record. Only once has McCarthy coached his team to knock off the top seed in the conference in the divisional round: 2010 in Atlanta. Coming off of a wildcard win, McCarthy is 1-2.

 

6: Green Bay’s rank for sacks — Dom Capers’ defense has dropped opposing quarterbacks 40 times this season, which is tied for the sixth-best in the NFL. The good news is the Cowboys offense has protected Prescott to the point where his 25 sacks are the 10th-fewest in the NFL. The Packers did get to the fourth-round rookie twice in the Oct. 16 encounter with Prescott losing a fumble on a strip-sack. The Cowboys are 3-1 when Prescott gets sacked three times or more. The Packers are going to have to get into that territory if they want to beat Dallas.

 

5: Dan Bailey’s number — The Pro Bowl kicker is clutch in the regular season and leads the Cowboys for most game-winning field goals. But in the postseason, he has performed more like Shawn Suisham or Jose Cortez going 1-of-3 on field goals. Consider that Bailey also missed a field goal two years ago in Green Bay that would have lessened the Packers’ lead to just two. Bailey is going to have to bring his regular season accuracy to the playoffs because Dallas will need him today.

 

4: The Packers’ rank in interceptions — The Packers defense has picked off opposing quarterbacks 17 times this season, tied for the fourth-most in the NFL. Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is tied for the fifth-most interceptions with five. Prescott has to emphasize protection of the football and not give the Packers free possessions. The rookie has done a masterful job with it in only throwing four interceptions all season. But the postseason is the beginning of a new four-game stretch, and Prescott needs to make sure he doesn’t toss one today or next week.

 

3: The Cowboys’ red zone conversion rank — Dallas has scored a touchdown on 66.7 percent of their red zone trips, good for third-best in the NFL. Two of the other teams in the top-10 in this statistic are now playing on championship weekend (New England and Atlanta). The Cowboys must take advantage of the Packers’ seventh-worst opposition red zone conversion rate (59.8 percent) and score touchdowns when inside the 20’s. If the Cowboys are kicking field goals while Rodgers is scoring touchdowns, AT&T Stadium will suffer its first playoff loss.

 

2: Ezekiel Elliott’s rank for rushing attempts per game — The fourth overall pick out of Ohio State averages 21.5 carries per game, which is second to Le’Veon Bell’s 21.8 carries per game for the most in the NFL. The Cowboys must get the ball in Elliott’s hands. Though it is a different team, the Packers had a better run defense in the first game. Now, they don’t, and the Cowboys need to emphasize giving Elliott his touches.

 

1: Jordy Nelson’s rank for most touchdown catches in 2016 — The ninth-year receiver has caught 14 touchdown passes, the most in the NFL. But he won’t suit up against the Cowboys as his broken ribs are just too much to overcome. So, who will replace Nelson? Enter Davante Adams, whose 12 touchdown catches are tied with Mike Evans and Antonio Brown for the second-most in the league. Adams caught eight passes for 125 yards and a touchdown last week and was the catalyst for the Packers offense’s dominance over the Giants. The Cowboys secondary will have to shut down Adams as he is the provisional No. 1 receiver.