Rookie quarterback Dak Prescott has been praised for his poise from Day One, and rightfully so. The fourth-round pick hasn’t let any moment or any stage get too big for him. The playoffs are different, though, and all eyes will be on Prescott and how he handles this moment. If the past is any indicator, he should check off this box like the rest.
The Cowboys are a run-first team and rookie Ezekiel Elliott lived up to the hype by leading the league in rushing. He had a breakout game (28-157) against the Packers, and will be relied on heavily again in what the Cowboys hope will be a lengthy playoff run. Green Bay feels its defense has improved, but the telling sign will be if it can contain Dallas’ rushing attack.
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers is known for his innate ability to avoid pressure and extend plays. The Cowboys have struggled to rattle Rodgers in recent meetings, but feel better about their chances with a fully healthy defensive line. End David Irving forced three fumbles in the previous meeting in October, and could be a difference-maker once again.
It’s no secret that takeaways go a long way in deciding game winners. Rodgers has protected the ball well, not being intercepted during the Packers’ current seven-game winning streak. Prescott and Elliott have protected the ball well, too. The defense that is able to force takeaways will put its team in a favorable spot to advance to the NFC Championship.
Are the Cowboys better off with the rest they’ve earned leading into the playoffs? Or are the Packers better by continuing the momentum they’ve been riding on the seven-game winning streak? These are age-old questions teams face every postseason. These teams are distinctly different in how they enter this game. We’ll find out if the Cowboys are rested or rusty, and whether the Packers are riding momentum or running out of gas.