With three weeks left in the 2013 regular season, time is running out for teams that are currently out of the playoffs. In Sunday’s matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers, the loser could find themselves in a hole from which they are unable to come back.
The Cowboys had been in control of the NFC East for virtually the entire year. A loss on Monday night to the Chicago Bears, though, put them a game behind the Philadelphia Eagles. The defeat also hurt Green Bay, who was unable to stay ahead of their division rivals, as a result of the contest. At 6-6-1, they trail the Bears and Detroit Lions by a half-game.
Luckily for both teams, they still have a chance to control their own destiny. The Cowboys end the season with a game against the Eagles. Since they won the first meeting between the two, a win in that contest would give them the tiebreaker. Green Bay would lose the tiebreaker to Detroit, but they still face Chicago in Week 17.
Green Bay’s descent to third place can be put mostly on the injured shoulders of Aaron Rodgers. The quarterback left the Packers’ Week Nine game in the first quarter, and he hasn’t stepped on the field since. Including the matchup that saw Rodgers leave prematurely, Green Bay has failed to win five of their last six.
Once again, it appears that the Packers will be without the 2011 MVP. Matt Flynn is likely to get the start in Week 15, unless Rodgers is medically cleared by game time. Flynn is the third quarterback that the team will use in Rodgers’ place. He’s performed better than Seneca Wallace and Scott Tolzien, leading Green Bay to its first victory in 42 days.
With Rodgers at the helm, the Packers scored at least 28 points five times. Since he suffered his fractured collarbone, Green Bay has yet to reach that mark once. If they are ever going to have an offensive outbreak, though, Sunday may be their best chance. They’ll face a Dallas team with the worst pass defense in the NFL. On Monday, the Cowboys made Josh McCown look like an All-Pro, allowing him to complete 27 of 36 pass attempts for 348 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.
In their loss, Dallas was hampered by losing Sean Lee during the game. The linebacker suffered a neck injury, but it’s not considered serious. ESPN’s Ed Werder reports that Lee didn’t incur any structural damage, and he expects to play on Sunday. The injury came in Lee’s first game back after having missed the previous two contests.
Tony Romo did his best to keep the Cowboys in the game, completing four touchdowns passes. His 27 scores on the year rank him third overall, behind Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. The game could turn into a shootout, considering the Cowboys porous defense and elite their ability on offense. For most of the season, they’ve relied on the pass, but their running game has improved in recent weeks. Since their bye in Week 11, the team is averaging 150 yards on the ground. For the season, that mark would put them second in the league.
With Rodgers likely on the sidelines, the betting line has the Cowboys favored by a touchdown at most Las Vegas casinos. The Packers are one of the worst teams against the points spread with a record of 4-9. The Cowboys are one of the best at 8-5.
Betting Odds: Dallas -7, 48.5
Prediction: Dallas 34, Green Bay 24