We all know how Tony Romo’s tried to downplay his adoration of Brett Favre. And how watching tonight’s clash between the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers will be difficult today and expensive tomorrow. And how, considering NFL Network is available in only one-third of the country, the national draw will be only slightly bigger than that for Redacted.
And we all know how, for now, the NFL’s first game between 10-1 teams since 1990 is the Game of the Year. And how Jerry Jones has called it “the most significant game” at Texas Stadium since 1995. And how the cities’ dorky mayors have attempted to somehow validate the showdown by wagering food on the outcome. All that’s left is knowing who’s gonna win,
I’m often all about shits n’ giggles on Unfair Park, but this morning, how about some serious sportsy analysis? I offer 10 reasons the Cowboys win by 10.
10. The Packers rank last in the NFL in rushing, averaging only 80 yards per game. Their main weapon, Ryan Grant, was a training-camp cut by the Giants. It makes what Favre does in the passing game all that more impressive. But it also makes Green Bay one-dimensional. The Cowboys won’t blitz much and will play lots of dime packages, daring the Pack to run the ball.
9. After missing last week’s game with a bum ankle, Cowboys receiver Patrick Crayton is back. His quickness off the line will be key, as Packers cornerbacks Al Harris and Charles Woodson love to play physical jam coverage.
8. Because of No. 10, Cowboys safety Roy Williams’ time on the field will be limited. No explanation needed. Right?
7. Sure, Cowboys left tackle Flozell Adams will probably incur yet another false start penalty. But the dude engulfs pass rushers like a bean bag enveloping your pet rock. (This an old rivalry, no?) Green Bay’s Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila relies on speed, but his impact getting around or through Adams will be minimal.
6. Conversely, the Cowboys’ DeMarcus Ware should have no problem solving the injured riddle of Green Bay’s offensive line. Mark Tauscher, nursing a sore ankle, hasn’t seen a player with Ware’s combo platter of speed and strength.
5. Cowboys right tackle Marc Columbo is nasty enough to neutralize NFL sack leader Aaron Kampman. Anyone who goes to a Godsmack concert on crutches, which Columbo did in July, is cool by me. If Colombo can handle Kampman by himself, tight end Jason Witten will be free to release downfield in pass patterns.
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4. If you didn’t deduce this already, the key to the NFL is pressure on the quarterback. Both Favre and Romo are elite time-buyers, shuffling their feet or subtly sliding to allow a broken-down play to regenerate. Given time, Romo will throw for 300 yards. Giving time, the Cowboys surrendered almost 400 passing yards to Washington’s Jason Friggin’ Campbell. The Cowboys' two tackles -- Adams and Columbo -- have allowed only four sacks this season. Nos. 5-7 each indicate Romo will have more time than Favre, meaning the Cowboys will eventually wind up with more points than the Packers.
3. Texas Stadium is a dump. It’s trashy and bland and seems everywhere you look on the concourse there’s standing water. The old joint was recently ranked 26th out of 32 NFL stadiums in a Sports Illustrated survey. But, on the rare occasion, it can still rock. Tonight should be one of those nights. The stakes are unmistakable. Favre provides a time-tested villain. And a ceremony honoring the Cowboys’ 1992 Super Bowl champs should whip the sellout crowd into a frenzy.
2. We all know how Terrell Owens loves the big-game spotlight. So do the Packers. That’s why you can expect a huge game from Witten. While the Pack has allowed only one 100-yard wide receiver and will surely orchestrate its secondary toward shutting down Dallas’ most dangerous target, tight ends like San Diego’s Antonio Gates, Kansas City’s Tony Gonzalez and Washington’s Chris Cooley have gouged Green Bay for big days right down the middle of their defense.
1. At this point in their careers, Romo is simply better than Favre. Tonight will officially be the passing of the torch. --Richie Whitt