Green Bay Packers (10-1) +6.5, 51.5 O/U at Dallas Cowboys (10-1) -6.5, Texas Stadium, Irving, 8.15pm EST Thursday
by The Crazy Snake of Predictem.com
As the NFL season heats up there are going to be some big games looming on the horizon, but surely there’s none bigger than this Thursday night bonanza. One of these teams will walk away the number one seed for the NFC, and barring a late season meltdown will secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
So how big a deal is home field advantage really, anyway? Consider these statistics before answering…Brett Favre is 0-8 at Texas Stadium and Dallas is 0-5 at Lambeau Field. Do you think maybe this game means something to both teams? Now, I am not a great believer in stats like that. Brett Favre hasn’t taken a 10-1 team to Dallas and Dallas has NEVER been 10-1, so with those two factors in play it’s hard to argue that a loss here for either team is tantamount to the “end”. Of course it isn’t, but it will sure help us to line them up and get a feel for who the NFC is going to send at the might of the Patriots, with a view to ending their undefeated run come the play offs. This all assumes the Pats are even there after another NFC team, the Philadelphia Eagles did everything but beat them this weekend and probably should have.
In Green Bay and Dallas we have two highly talented teams on both sides of the ball. Both teams boast a strong run defense. Both teams have high scoring potential with multi-faceted offenses. Both teams are chock full of pro bowlers and other quality personnel. This promises to be an early post season preview and everyone will be treating it like sudden death.
The usual suspects should be doing their best to tip the balance. Last week versus Detroit, Brett Favre completed 20 consecutive passes to his receivers, a new Green Bay record. He currently has a quarterback rating over 100 and is in some of the best form of his long and illustrious career. Somewhat ironically, Tony Romo grew up in Burlington, Wisconsin, but the cheese heads won’t be cheering the home town boy this night. Romo also has a passer rating above 100 going in to this game and has been lighting up the scoreboard with monotonous regularity, especially to his favorite receiver, Terrell Owens.
TO and Patrick Crayton will have their hands full with corners such as Al Harris and Charles Woodson in coverage. With Green Bay often opting for single coverage in favor of a more significant pass rush, they have placed much faith in their quality corner backs, a factor that has paid off handsomely for them to now. For Dallas, Terence Newman will get much of the responsibility for curtailing the Pack’s dangerous receiver, Donald Driver.
With those match ups likely to be a stalemate for much of the night it may come down to the “also” offense for both teams. Green Bay has Ryan Grant, who racked up another 100 yards on the ground last week, albeit that much of his yardage was gained in the 4th quarter as the Pack tried to kill the clock. Nevertheless, having a solid ground game further enables a pass happy offense. There are few more enabling ground games than that of the Dallas Cowboys. Julius Jones and Marion Barber combine into a formidable weapon and take a great deal of pressure off the mobile and creative Tony Romo.
Romo may find himself passing to his tight end, Jason Witten for much of the night for a couple of reasons. Not the least of those is the fact that Green Bay has shown something of a weakness against quality tight ends of late. Or maybe it is that teams have been forced into their tight ends due to the excellent coverage provided by the Green Bay corners. Regardless, Jason Witten is an excellent target and could have a big night.
In looking at what could decide this game, it’s impossible to ignore any facet of it, since both line ups have so many potential game breakers. For Dallas, linebacker, Demarcus Ware could be a headache for Favre if not adequately covered. Green Bay’s defensive end, Aaron Kampman will be a handful for the likes of Marc Colombo and Romo is going to have to be at his elusive best. On balance, with Romo’s added mobility over Favre, with Dallas’ superior running game, and a home field advantage one has to lean with the Cowboys straight up. It might be a nervous game if you choose to go that way, however. Dallas is notoriously slow starting and produces their best after the half.
The Snake’s Bite: The bookies put up a spread of 6.5 points for this game and on first glance I thought that was probably a little high. But I am a Dallas fan lately and feel they have the scoring weapons to match it with Green Bay and the defensive weapons to limit them. In what is likely to be a high scoring game, I feel the margins could be somewhat elongated even if the game is relatively tight and on that basis I will lean with the home team to cover the spread of -6.5.