Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys vs. Packers preview: Evolving rosters highlight NFC clash

Dallas Cowboys defensive end Demarcus Lawrence is a difference-maker when he’s on the field.
Dallas Cowboys defensive end Demarcus Lawrence is a difference-maker when he’s on the field.

The Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers are evolving in a positive way.

Both teams are getting players back that can enhance their outlook going forward.

Wide receiver Jordy Nelson returned to the Packers lineup this season after missing all of last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. He has 21 catches and five touchdowns in four games.

This week, defensive tackle Mike Pennel, who missed the first four games for violating the NFL’s substances of abuse policy, returns to the Packers (3-1). No team has rushed for more than 50 yards against Green Bay, who sport the No. 1 run defense this season. And that’s was accomplished without Pennel.

In Dallas (4-1), end DeMarcus Lawrence’s return last week sparked the Cowboys defense in pitching a shutout through three quarters and the team getting four sacks in an easy 28-14 win over Cincinnati.

While the Cowboys are still waiting on Tony Romo and Dez Bryant to return, tackle Tyron Smith rejoined the lineup and led a punishing ground attack against the Bengals. Smith missed the past two games with a bulging disk in his back. The Cowboys averaged 6.2 yards per rush. The holes were clear and concise for the NFL’s No. 1 rushing offense.

For spice, there’s plenty of history in this game with the Packers leading the all-time series 17-16.

The showdown is set.

No. 1 rush offense and the league’s No. 1 runner Ezekiel Elliott vs. the No. 1 run defense at Lambeau field.

Veteran quarterback Aaron Rodgers vs. rookie sensation Dak Prescott

Here are some other notables:

▪  The Cowboys have not allowed a 100-yard rusher or receiver this season.

▪  Cowboys wide receiver Cole Beasley has caught 12 third-down passes with 10 resulting in first downs.

▪  Dallas leads the league in third down conversion efficiency at 50 percent. Green Bay is third at 48.2 percent.

▪  The Packers have won the past five meetings, including a postseason game.

▪  Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has posted a 49-12 (.803) record at home in his career.

Star-Telegram writers Drew Davison and Clarence Hill Jr. break down the Cowboys 28-14 win over the Bengals.

Statistical comparisons

 

Cowboys

Packers

Record

4-1

3-1

Scoring average

25.8

24.5

Opp. Scoring average

18.2

20.8

Total offense

397.0

321.8

Rushing

155.2

112.0

Passing

241.8

209.8

Total defense

355.6

112.0

Turnover margin

+2

-1

Penalties/yards

29-224

32-353

Dallas Cowboys regular-season schedule

Sept. 11

Giants 20, Cowboys 19

Sept. 18

Cowboys 27, Redskins 23

Sept. 25

Cowboys 31, Bears 17

Oct. 2

Cowboys 24, 49ers 17

Oct. 9

Cowboys 28, Bengals 14

Oct. 16

at Green Bay

3:25 p.m.

KDFW/4

Oct. 23

Bye

Oct. 30

vs. Philadelphia

7:30 p.m.

KXAS/5

Nov. 6

at Cleveland

Noon

KDFW/4

Nov. 13

at Pittsburgh

3:25 p.m.

KDFW/4

Nov. 20

vs. Baltimore

Noon

KTVT/11

Nov. 24

vs. Washington

3:30 p.m.

KDFW/4

Dec. 1

at Minnesota

7:25 p.m.

KXAS/5, NFL Net.

and Twitter

Dec. 11

at NY Giants

7:30 p.m.

KXAS/5

Dec. 18

vs. Tampa Bay

Noon

KDFW/4

Dec. 26

vs. Detroit

7:30 p.m.

ESPN

Jan. 1

at Philadelphia

Noon

KDFW/4

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