Cowboys vs. Packers pick: NFL playoff predictions, odds, bets
The Packers travel to Dallas on Sunday to take on the Cowboys in an NFC wild-card matchup.
And theyll be doing it with one of the hottest quarterbacks in the NFL.
Across the second half of the season, Jordan Love ranks third among qualified quarterbacks in EPA per Play, second in Completion Percentage Over Expected and second in Pro Football Focus passing grades.
Hes been nothing short of magnificent, and hes becoming Green Bays next franchise quarterback.
He leads an offense that ranks fourth in Series Success Rate (percentage of drives that result in a first down) since Week 9.
The Cowboys boast an elite pass defense, generating pressure behind Micah Parsons and defending the back end behind the resurgent Stephon Gilmore and second-year pro DaRon Bland, who led the NFL with nine interceptions.
However, I think the Cowboys defense is a tad overvalued.
Theyre still vulnerable against passes across the middle and deep down the field, as the safeties have been below average (Jayron Kearse ranks 98th among 99 qualified safeties in Pro Football Focus grades).
And that showed down the stretch.
Over the final six games, Dallas ranked 23rd in EPA per play allowed and 28th in Success Rate allowed, struggling more against the pass.
Plus, the Boys are due for some late-down regression.
From Week 9 onward, Dallas still got off the field, ranking 11th in EPA per play allowed on third and fourth down.
Jordan Love #10 of the Green Bay Packers throw a touchdown pass during the first half in the game against the Chicago Bears. Getty ImagesBut defenses usually regress toward first- and second-down production, where the Cowboys ranked 18th in EPA per play allowed on early downs during those weeks.
More importantly, Love should have plenty of time to throw.
The Packers offensive line has been superb in pass blocking, ranking sixth in PFFs pass-blocking grades, and Love is among the leagues least-sacked quarterbacks.
I dont expect the Cowboys pass rushers to get home.
Though they seem scary, their 21.3 percent pressure rate is merely league average.
Love is dealing, and the Packers young but solid receiving core should get open with time to develop routes.
Jayden Reed and Romeo Doubs spearhead the leagues seventh-best wideout room, per PFFs receiving grades.
Even better, A.J. Dillon is injured and wont play.
Though that seems bad, Aaron Jones is the significantly better back by Success Rate (62 percent to 50 percent) and yards per carry (4.6 to 3.4). More touches for Jones is a good thing.
I worry about Green Bays defense, which ranks 23rd in EPA per play allowed and 26th in Success Rate allowed.
Defensive coordinator Joe Berry consistently fails to put his guys in the best position to succeed.
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Thats potentially lethal against Dak Prescott and CeeDee Lamb. Both are playing at career-best levels.
Even worse, the Packers are at a huge special teams disadvantage, ranking second-to-last in special teams DVOA.
But I give Matt LaFleur a huge coaching advantage over Mike McCarthy, as LaFleur is the much better offensive schemer and in-game decision-maker.
That should prove huge with this spread sitting over a touchdown.
Ultimately, we could see a shootout in the fast-paced dome that is Jerry World.
But I think Love, LaFleur and Co. can keep pace by consistently moving the ball through the air.
So, Ill happily take a shot with both Packers +7 and Over 50.5.
Both teams should move the ball plenty, and I see this game finishing 35-30 in favor of the Cowboys, with Green Bays youth showing late on the road in a hostile environment.
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