The clock on the Green Bay Packers season is ticking to the 12th hour as the 6-6-1 team faces off against the equally desperate 7-6 Dallas Cowboys. Without their fierce leader Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers will have to stand by backup Matt Flynn to maintain their playoff hopes, which are already on life support with only three games left and a game behind division leader Detroit. It is this simple, the Packers must win with Flynn. Anything short of a season defining victory? Might as well begin closing the books on this 2013 disappointing Packers squad.
What is the recipe for victory Sunday?
1. Matt Flynn must be a hero.
No, he does not need to shatter NFL season records like he did once upon a time at Lambeau, but he must be efficient, accurate, and smart. Those three adjectives correlate to not missing open throws as he has in the past, throwing catchable balls that give receivers yards after catch potential, and not turning the ball over. Ideal stat line? 235 yards passing on 65-70% passing, 2 touchdowns, no turnovers. It is certainly reasonable to expect Flynn to do extremely well vs. such a horrific defense as Dallas ranks dead last in the passing yards allowed per game. This game is ripe for Flynn to dice the Cowboys off effective play action and spread formations. Do the Packers need him to be Aaron Rodgers? Absolutely not. Just keep the ball in manageable down and distance and move the chains. Above all, no turnovers.
2. Ride the Lacy Train
Resting a bum ankle all week, Lacy’s availability was in question. However after practicing in a limited fashion Friday and telling reporter Mike Vandermause that he is “close to 100%,” look for Lacy to dominate. The Cowboys are the 28th worst rushing defense in the league allowing close to 130 yards on the ground per game. Couple that statistic with the Cowboy’s best defender out for Sundays tilt and it spells a golden opportunity for Lacy and James Starks to demoralize the defense, dominate ball possession, and serve gigantic big play opportunities for Flynn to deliver strikes deep to Nelson. Lacy is the Packers 2013 MVP and must continue his fantastic rookie season.
Yes, Tony Romo and the Cowboys offense is extremely potent. They rank third in the league in points scored with 27.5 and the Packers since Rodgers’ injury has averaged a dismal 17.5 points per game. Although the Packers have not faced stellar defenses in that stretch, they have not faced one as bad as the Cowboys. The combination of a more confident Flynn and a horrid Cowboys defense will lead to the Packers scoring ten to fifteen more points than their abysmal average sans Rodgers. The ultimate difference maker which would put this game out of reach and secure a critical Packers victory? Packers’ opportunistic defense must continue. If the Packers run defense can shut down Demarco Murray early, give the offense a chance to jump ahead, make Dallas one dimensional, it has a tremendous opportunity to aggressively pursue Romo. Romo plus pressure plus a need to force passes to catch up equals potential for a wealth of turnover opportunities. Mike Neal, Nick Perry, Clay Matthews, Tramon Williams, and even Jarrett Bush must be aggressive in looking for the ball. If the Packers can win the turnover margin battle, they win the game.
Packers rack up 450 yards of total offense with Lacy and Starks proving difference makers in keeping the impressive Cowboys offense off the field. Flynn is an efficient quarterback who completes two or three strike plays that put the team in great position to score upwards of 28 plus points. Cowboys will find success on offense with Murray and star receiver Dez Bryant but ultimately two timely turnovers, one an interception and the other a fumble recovery, will be the difference. Look for Clay Matthews to breakout in a big way and put the team on his back after being quiet for a few weeks while recovering from his thumb injury. Final score?
Packers 34- Cowboys 27
Go Pack Go
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