Dallas Cowboys (4-1 SU, 4-1 ATS) vs. Green Bay Packers (3-1 SU, 2-1-1 ATS)
Week 6 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, October 16, 2016 at 4:25PM EST
Where: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: DAL +4/GB -4
Over/Under Total: 47
The Dallas Cowboys come to Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers in a key NFC matchup. Both teams have just one loss. The Packers came off a bye week to beat the Giants last week, 23-16, on Sunday Night Football. They host a Dallas team that has been surprisingly effective this season, at 4-1 and on the heels of 4 straight wins. Can they make it five at Lambeau against a good Packers team?
The only game the Packers lost this season was on the road in a 3-point loss to the unbeaten Vikings. They've been a bit quiet, aided by the early bye week, and some less-than-vintage performances, but they're winning and putting themselves in a position to contend. Over the past few seasons, we're seeing less offensive explosiveness from the Packers, but also a better defense, as they try to become a better-rounded team.
The Packers' defense is making an impact. They're the top-rated rushing defense in the league, having given up just over 40 yards per game on the ground so far this season. The front seven has been excellent, with Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, Julius Peppers, and others chipping in with production. In addition to allowing nothing from opposing running backs, the defense has also applied a consistent pass-rush. The pass-defense has been iffy, as injuries have played a role. They only have two picks on the season. Still, with guys like Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, there is a playmaking ability in the secondary, even if they're not always air-tight. With this defense giving up a tad over 20 points a game, that is going to get it done more often than not.
Aaron Rodgers has 9 TD throws against 3 picks, but really hasn't been at his best. And when he turns it up a notch, the offense will see better results. His completion percentage of 56.1 is well off what the Packers are accustomed to with Rodgers behind center. With 184 yards in his last two games. RB Eddie Lacy (questionable) is starting to get his 2016 season on the fast-track. WR Jordy Nelson has five TDs after missing all of last season, with Randall Cobb adding his usual production. They've gotten some better showings from Davante Adams (questionable), which has also helped. Tight ends Richard Rodgers and Jared Cook (out) also help fill out the aerial attack. And it's a part of the team that should get better, ranked an awful 27th in the league. We'll see if Lacy's iffy status results in more of an aerial approach this week, especially as that appears to be a weakness in the Dallas defense.
There isn't much bad to say about the Cowboys this season. After losing narrowly to the Giants at home in week one, Dallas supporters braced themselves for another rough Romo-less period. Four straight wins have changed that to some degree. And they've done it mostly without the services of Dez Bryant, who they are hoping can return shortly. Key to the Dallas success this season is the surprising performances of rookies Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott.
Prescott, a 4th round choice, has been excellent in his first action at QB, something he wasn't expecting to happen this early in his career. He has thrown no picks and is capable of running this offense smoothly. The offense has been consistent, putting up 24-31 points in each of their last 4 wins. The performance of Elliott has also been huge. Granted, they expected him to be a difference-making back, but he's been on fire, taking over the rushing lead through five games, despite not doing much in his first two games. In the last three games, Elliott has 412 yards on the ground. Prescott and Elliott have both benefitted massively from one of the best offensive lines in the business. And with Bryant out, Prescott has been connecting with Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams (questionable), and erstwhile tight end Jason Witten.
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The absence of Romo could almost prove to be a good thing. Unlike in past season when he went down, the Cowboys have been able to pick up the slack and could be better off for it when Romo does return. The defense is part of that equation, a far-improved unit that is making positive contributions to the team effort. In their last three games, they've allowed 17, 17, and 14 points. They're getting a nice pass-rush from different sources. And despite giving up some yardage chunks on occasion, they have been clutch and are showing the ability to respond to urgent situations with good play. And while the offense's personnel issues have gotten all the attention, it's important to note this defense started the season with a lot of issues, as suspensions and injuries left them a diminished force—just not as diminished as some forecasted.
Prescott has already thrived in two road scenarios—earning wins at Washington and San Fran. This road matchup could present some different issues, with Lambeau usually a pretty robust road assignment. Look for Elliott to test a Green Bay "D" that has been excellent against the run this season. I just think this is where we see the difference between polished professionals at home and rookies on the road. A simple notion perhaps, but I like the Packers in this spot.
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