The Green Bay Packers ended the Dallas Cowboys’ season nearly a year ago in the divisional round of the playoffs. They’ll try and end the Cowboys’ season once again this year — only in Week 14 instead of the postseason.
A loss would bring the Cowboys back to reality and, in all likelihood, all but eliminate them from playoff contention even in the embarrassingly bad NFC East.
For the Packers, meanwhile, it would keep them in the driver’s seat for the NFC North title. Green Bay and Minnesota each sit atop the standings at 8-4. However, Green Bay holds the tiebreaker thanks to its Week 11 head-to-head win.
And the Packers are certainly looking to get back on their early-season track after scuffling of late. They opened the season by going 6-0 and appearing to be the team to beat in the NFC.
But then they lost three straight to Denver, Carolina and Detroit. The Packers have rebounded in recent weeks by winning two of their past three, but they haven’t played like the dominant team out of the gate.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers opened the season looking like a guy who could repeat as the league’s MVP, tossing 15 touchdowns to only two interceptions in the six-game winning streak to start the season.
But Rodgers wasn’t able to keep that pace, although he is getting back on track. Nobody is going to soon forget his heroics in leading the Packers to a remarkable win last Thursday over the Lions when he threw a 61-yard Hail Mary as time expired for the win.
“It’s the greatest feeling,” Rodgers said after the game, via ESPN. “We’re blessed to be able to play this game, and it reminds you at times how special this game is. You live for days like this, to be able to have something miraculous happen.”
That might be the play that turns the Packers back into the dominant team they have been in recent years, and it could show this week against a Cowboys team that is desperately trying to stay alive for the postseason.
“There’s going to be no masking this. We know that we struggled,” Rodgers said. “We’re inconsistent on offense. We can’t be that type of football team if we want to finish the season where we want to finish the season. We’re 8-4, there’s four games left, and we know it’s about giving yourself an opportunity, getting into the dance.”
The Packers demoted running back Eddie Lacy from the starting role for missing curfew before last Thursday’s game. But Lacy is getting his old job back going into the Cowboys game.
Lacy had only five carries for 4 yards against the Lions, and also lost 3 yards on a reception. He had posted two straight 100-yard rushing games prior to that.
But Packers coach Mike McCarthy feels the demotion will serve Lacy and the team the best in the long run.
“I think Eddie’s been rejuvenated,” McCarthy told reporters. “His work was good [Tuesday]. I checked in with him just like do with all players. I look for him to have a good week of practice and be productive Sunday. We’re worried about what’s in front of us. We talk about what’s behind us way too much.”
In last year’s playoff game against Dallas, Lacy rushed for 101 yards on 19 carries and also had a 10-yard reception.
Did you know?
The Packers are looking to reach the postseason for the seventh consecutive season. That is something that has never been done in franchise history. They went to six straight postseasons from 1993-98.
He said it
“I need to shut up more, frankly. I think the most important thing is — and I don’t know how other people do it — the communication network when you’re calling plays. If you’re calling plays, you need the information before the series and timely information within the series. So that’s something that we’re all conscientious of, and it’s just to make sure we’re trying to give [play-caller] Tom [Clements] the support that he needs there.” — McCarthy on his influence of Clements’ play calls
Drew Davison: 817-390-7760, @DrewDavison