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Packers at Cowboys Playoffs Prediction and Betting Lines

Green Bay Packers(11-6) @ Dallas Cowboys(13-3)

  • Where: AT&T Stadium. Dallas, TX
  • When: January 15, 2017 4:40 pm EST
  • Spread: Packers +4 (-105) at Cowboys -4 (-115)
  • Moneyline: Packers (+175) at Cowboys (-205)
  • Over / Under: Over 52.5 (-110) vs Under 52.5 (-110)

The legendary NHL captain Mark Messier used to counsel teammates not to give a strong opponent anything to put on their bulletin board as motivation – a sentiment echoed by many great NFL coaches.

Sound advice. But apparently, Aaron Rodgers never got the memo.

The superstar Packers QB sent veiled shots across the bow at the Dallas Cowboys early this week, implying during a conference call that the Pack will enjoy a playoff-experience advantage over rookie QB Dak Prescott and the Dallas roster as a whole.

Rodgers’ chesty move comes at an exciting yet turbulent time for Green Bay. The Packers are hot, roaring with a seven-game winning streak (including last weekend’s Wild Card Round romp over the New York Giants) at the right time. But the veteran QB’s favorite target, Jordy Nelson, suffered a rib injury in the game and was briefly hospitalized. Nelson’s status is doubtful for the Divisional Round contest in Texas.

When these teams last met in a playoff game, Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant had a crucial 4th-quarter catch overturned on review as the Packers prevailed in stunning fashion. “It was a catch” remains a catch-phrase in Dallas two years later. Bad feelings still simmer between Packer fans, Cowboy faithful and NFL officiating brass.

In such volatile circumstances, is there a value bet to be found? The thin point spread (Cowboys -4) is likely attributable to home-field advantage at noisy Jerry World. Could this be the most evenly-matched scrum of the postseason? Let’s look at some brass tacks.

Packers – Rodgers against the world

Packers vs Cowboys PicksTom Brady is held as the gold standard for QBs in the modern era. But there are those who maintain there is no more talented, more effective signal-caller than Aaron Rodgers.

This season has provided ample evidence. The Packers do not have a true #1 running back, with leading RB Ty Montgomery gaining less than 500 yards on the year so far. But that’s no problem – Rodgers himself has rushed for 5.5 yards per carry, and has scored 4 touchdowns running. In a Week 16 win over Minnesota, the QB was responsible for every TD the Pack scored by air or by carry.

An average defense has struggled at times, giving up 40+ points to the Redskins and 27 to the lowly Bears. Rodgers powered the offense through it all, throwing for an incredible 19 TDs and zero interceptions in the last seven weeks.

Jordy Nelson’s injury may be partially responsible for the O/U line sitting at only 52.5 points. But the Packers OL can protect Rodgers, even on the road. The Cowboys’ best chance to keep Green Bay from scoring 30+ is to control the ball with their ground game.

Cowboys – Push the pile or turn Prescott loose?

Dallas HC Jason Garrett is an old-school, run-first type of guy. RB Ezekiel Elliott has been all kinds of awesome in 2016-17, averaging 100+ yards per game and scoring 15 touchdowns. Elliott figures to get plenty of carries on Sunday.

But a ball-control game plan runs a risk. As Bill Walsh wrote in Finding the Winning Edge, an establish-the-run mindset only works if your defense can hold up its end. Otherwise, you can find yourself with a few 1st downs on the stat board and a 14-0 deficit on the scoreboard. And the Packers’ offense is looking unstoppable.

Garrett will need to find a balance, allowing Prescott to throw early and often enough to get into a rhythm and help give the Cowboys a lead. If that happens, the 2nd half will be Elliott’s time to shine.

Meanwhile, a physical Dallas ‘D will try to slow down the Lambeau Legion. Run defense has been phenomenal in flashes throughout a 13-3 campaign, with LB Sean Lee recording 13 tackles-for-loss. Defensive back Morris Claiborne also returns from injury this weekend. But the Packers will roll their speedy gun-slinger to whichever side of the field Claiborne isn’t defending – or pick on the CB mercilessly if he’s not 100 percent.

Reading the live-bet option

The unpredictable, icy weather currently assailing the Midwest will not be a factor, as AT&T Stadium has a retractable roof. But watch the Cowboys’ play-calling in the 1st quarter. Prescott is a burly, fast QB who can run the read-option as well as anyone the Green Bay defense has seen all year, and break tackles at the second level.

Perhaps OC Scott Linehan has saved a few option-heavy series just for a game such as this one. If Prescott and Elliott are ripping off big gains with misdirection and ball-fakes before halftime, the visitors’ meager defense will be in danger of total collapse.

The Packers must contain Elliott and Prescott in the running game, and give their high-octane offense possessions and field position. Even if the score is tight, a one-unit live bet on the Cowboys to cover makes a whole lot of sense if the Packers can’t stop the run early on.

Packers vs. Cowboys over/under pick

Bet on over 52.5 points (-110) in GB vs. DAL at Bovada.

The Cowboys’ Achilles Heel could be their pass rush, with sack and QB-hurry totals in the fair-to-middling range among playoff teams. It’s hard to imagine the ‘Boys front-seven corralling Aaron Rodgers with any consistency.

The Packers will score points. But that doesn’t mean they will survive and advance. Expect Dak Prescott to toss a few completions early, operate an effective ground game and settle in for a long, exciting QB duel against one of the all-time greats.

Picking an ATS winner is a crap-shoot, and the money lines are a wash. But there’s value in the over. Expect a high-drama clash of two fine offenses with the winner prevailing late in the 4th quarter or OT, and wager your units on 53+ points scored in Dallas on Sunday evening.

Bet on the NFC Divisional Playoffs at the Bovada Sportsbook.

Kurt BoyerThis article was written by Kurt Boyer

A freelance sportswriter from Missouri, Kurt has covered court, gridiron, rink and ring for 10+ years. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.

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