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No. 1 Concern For Packers In Divisional Round Is Cowboys’ Running Game

Sports Anchor: Green Bay Needs Quick Start To Beat Dallas

Football players
Matt Ludtke/AP Photo

As the Green Bay Packers continue to plow forward in the playoffs, they’ll face some tough competition in this weekend’s Divisional Round. The Dallas Cowboys entered the playoffs as the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

The Packers’ offense has been looking strong. But it’s unclear if one their key players, wide receiver Jordy Nelson, will play this weekend with a major rib injury. The NFL Network was the first to report Nelson suffered two fractured ribs after New York Giants’ Leon Hall rammed into Nelson helmet-first in last Sunday’s Wild Card game.

Lance Allan, TMJ4’s main sports anchor and co-host of The Mike McCarthy Show, says Nelson’s injury could be a blow for the Packers, but other players – such as former wide receiver James Jones – have played through broken ribs.

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“It is a delicate and touchy injury because you don’t want to create more damage, and it is a concern when you’re getting hit in football,” Allan said. “We’ll see if he can even practice on Saturday, if he could possibly go with a flak jacket. Who knows at this point.”

Nelson leads the team with 97 receptions, 1,257 yards and 14 touchdowns. But even after leaving Sunday’s game, the Packers’ offense held their own and eventually helped clench a victory with a final score of 38-13.

“I mean, with Jordy Nelson (hurt), it’s a blow. There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it,” Allan said. “But with a healthy Randall Cobb back, with the way Davante Adams has been playing, and then Jared Cook as a tight end playing very well, I think there are definitely some positives for the offense. They’re playing with some swagger.”

Allan said the Packers need to start off the game harder and stronger if they want to keep a lead Sunday over the Cowboys. Essentially, the team can’t start the game the way they did against the Giants on Sunday, when the Packers didn’t see any positive action until the second quarter.

“You can’t start that slow, especially in the playoffs,” Allan said. “A lot of times you bury yourself and you can’t come back. Dallas is the type of team with a very strong offensive line, a great running attack, and they can methodically keep the ball away from Aaron Rodgers.”

The Cowboys’ running game has been on fire this season. Rookie Ezekiel Elliot is a powerhouse running back and a major contender for MVP this season. Allan said the Packers’ biggest concern this weekend is stopping the Cowboys’ running game.

“The Packers somehow, someway with a banged up secondary and with all their injury issues, have done a pretty decent job (defending) against the pass,” Allan said. “But (the running game) is going to be the issue, because the longer the Cowboys hold onto the ball and as they continue to grind long drives down the field, the less the Packers offense is going to have the ball. The less of the chance the Packers are going to have to win this game.”

One thing the Packers have working in their favor is the inexperience of Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott. This is the first time as a starter in the playoffs.

“It’s a whole different animal when it comes to the NFL’s postseason,” Allan said. “If they can get pressure on him during the times the Cowboys have to throw, I think that works in the Packers advantage.”

Even though Dallas beat Green Bay earlier this season, 30-16, Allan said both teams are playing differently. It’s hard to look at that October game to determine the outcome of the Divisional Round.

“I’ve said for a long time that (Dallas) is a one of the more vulnerable ones,” Allan said. “I do think there are certain aspects of the Cowboys’ defense that the Packers can take advantage of. It’s not unthinkable that the Packers can win this game. That said, Dallas has been the most consistent team in the NFC all year. I just think it’s going to be a whale of a ball game.”

The Packers face the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Sunday. Kickoff is at 3:40 p.m. and will air on FOX.

Update: On Friday morning McCarthy announced wide receiver Jordy Nelson will not play in Sunday’s playoff game, due to a major rib injury.

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