A quick overview of three storylines that could help determine the outcome of Sunday afternoon's showdown between the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys.
The Green Bay Packers may have beaten the Chicago Bears last Thursday night, but that result hasn’t created any movement for the Green and Gold in USA TODAY’s NFL Power Rankings, where they maintain their position at No. 5 for the second week in a row.
The Packers will be facing the Dallas Cowboys, who also stayed put in the rankings at No. 16, despite their Week 4 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
Here’s what USA TODAY has to say about the Packers:
With his running backs and line severely battered, Aaron Rodgers (sacked 15 times) can't be pumped to face NFL sack leader DeMarcus Lawrence.
And here’s what they have to say about the Cowboys:
Much attention was paid to offseason exodus of defenders. But losing G Ron Leary and T Doug Free seem to be more impactful departures.
Elsewhere, NFL Media’s Elliot Harrison has the Packers jumping up five spots to No. 5.
Impressive win for the Packers, especially considering that same Bears team upended the Steelers in Week 3. Green Bay's defense, in particular, showed encouraging signs. As did Davante Adams,who is doing well after the vicious hit he took from Danny Trevathan. The player safety rules have been criticized by uninformed people. Hopefully, those who have taken issue with -- or made fun of -- those precautionary measures to protect players saw the hit, so as to appreciate why those rules are in place (even if the refs don't always get calls right). On another note: Green Bay playsat Dallas this Sunday, then at Minnesota. Big games.
Frank Schwab actually drops the Packers one spot in his rankings for Yahoo! Sports, down to No. 4.
Over at The Score, their staff has the Packers jumping two spots up to No. 2:
From their website:
Injuries are mounting for the Packers, but Aaron Rodgers is keeping them on the straight and narrow while the doctors do their work.
Over at ESPN, the crew in Bristol has the Packers jumping up four spots to No. 2:
From their website:
Injuries have been an issue in Green Bay, but the pass rush has churned no matter who has been in it. The Packers have generated pressure at the fourth-highest rate this season -- on 31 percent of dropbacks -- even with injuries to Mike Daniels, Ahmad Brooks and Nick Perry.
Over at Pro Football Focus, the Packers hold steady at No. 6.
From their team of analysts:
The Packers took care of business against the Bears last Thursday, despite losing Davante Adams and Ty Montgomery to injury. While the injuries continue to pile up offensively, Aaron Rodgers (81.0 overall grade) has compensated with his traditional solid play. Despite being under pressure on 35.7 percent of his snaps so far, he’s generated an 87.5 passer rating on those plays, good for fourth among qualifying quarterbacks. The league’s 24th graded defense will have a big test this Sunday on the road against the Cowboys – the defensive side of the ball will likely determine whether the Packers will be considered an upper-echelon team moving forward.
For Bleacher Report, Chris Simms has the Packers jumping up six spots to No. 6:
The Green Bay Packers didn't have their greatest overall performance against the Chicago Bears last Thursday. However, the defense forced some early turnovers, giving Aaron Rodgers short fields.
You can forget about it when he has a short field. Have we ever seen a more dangerous player in the red zone than Rodgers? Um, the answer is no.
Rodgers did the damage, but the defense deserves a lot of credit. It forced turnovers, kept pressure on Mike Glennon and prevented the Bears from utilizing the ground-and-pound—which was how they beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 3.
When your defense gets four turnovers, it has had a good game.
The Packers also deserve credit for overcoming some big injuries. Green Bay came into the game with a banged-up offensive line, and then the team lost Davante Adams and Ty Montgomery to injury. Injuries could be a major issue moving forward.