Packers 38, Giants 13.
Four NFL wild-card weekend games, four snorefests.
With the two days all to themselves — dare we say it? — the Dallas Cowboys could have headed to Tahiti or Jamaica and just watched the one-sided football on TV from there. The wild-card round was devoid of suspense.
Next weekend’s matchups are set, however. The contenders presumably have been separated from the pretenders.
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As the NFC’s No. 1 playoff seed, the Cowboys’ door prize is getting to host the league’s hottest team, deftly captained by the league’s hottest quarterback.
As Aaron Rodgers promised, the Green Bay Packers are on a roll, running the table with seven consecutive victories. The postseason bracket did the Cowboys no favors.
Despite the Packers being forced to punt on their first five possessions Sunday, quarterback Rodgers stood his ground against the Giants’ pass rush and put 38 points on the board — nine more than the New York defense had allowed in a game all season.
A Hail Mary touchdown on the first half’s final play appeared to flip the game in the Packers’ favor.
Rodgers weathered five sacks, throwing for 362 yards and four touchdowns in a most remarkable cold-weather performance.
A Hail Mary?
After watching Rodgers pick apart the Giants’ highly regarded secondary, the Cowboys might be better off reciting and attempting three Hail Marys, two Our Fathers and, for good measure, a few choruses of Hava Nagila.
The defense, in particular, is going to need the help.
Green Bay was a struggling 4-6 team when Rodgers made his now-oft-cited remark about winning all of the team’s remaining games. The Packers needed every victory, as it turned out, to hold off the Detroit Lions.
Since that November day, Rodgers has thrown for nearly 290 yards a game and passed for 19 touchdowns without an interception.
Would the Cowboys have been better off playing the NFC East rival Giants in the divisional round?
Probably. The stout Giants defense would have presented problems, as it did for Rodgers and Green Bay, but New York’s limited, one-sided offense was always going to be a handicap in the playoffs.
The points were going to have to come from somewhere, and the Giants helped render their own verdict Sunday by thrice dropping Eli Manning passes in the first half.
Rodgers, meanwhile, was as precise as he’s ever been. His ability to slide away and around a pass rush, plus having Jared Cook, Randall Cobb and Davante Adams to throw to, forced the Giants to battle uphill the entire day.
If the capable New York pass rush couldn’t halt Rodgers in Sunday’s second half, will the Cowboys’ defense even get close enough to breathe on him?
Just one month ago, Green Bay scored 38 points against a very stingy Seattle defense. Rodgers and the Packers followed by scoring 38 against the Vikings and 31 against the Lions, before hitting the 38-point lottery again Sunday.
If watching the wild-card game showed the Cowboys anything, it should be that Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Dez Bryant are going to need a lot of points next weekend.
The contenders have been separated from the pretenders.
The Cowboys haven’t advanced beyond the divisional round in 21 years.
The law of averages, if nothing else, is on their side.
Hail Marys are also strongly advised.