Here’s a preview of what to watch for when the Green Bay Packers host the Dallas Cowboys for a 3:25 p.m. kickoff Sunday afternoon.
1. The Packers' run defense vs the Cowboys' rushing offense.
Expect to hear about this matchup all week leading up to Sunday’s game. The Packers are on a historic pace when it comes to stopping the run and the Cowboys have the No. 1 rushing offense in the league.
The Packers have been playing the majority of games in their nickel personnel, meaning they’ve had only two defensive linemen on the field most of the time.
That could change against Dallas. The Cowboys are coming off a game in which they absolutely manhandled their opponent up front. Playing more base, and getting an extra big body on the field, may be the way to go for Dom Capers.
With that said, the reason the Packers have been so successful against the run so far is due to excellent team defense. They aren’t just beating people up front, they are doing a great job spilling runs for linebackers and safeties to clean up.
All of that will be put to the test by Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys' run game. Elliott is coming off a 134-yard, two-touchdown performance. The Packers will have their hands full with the rookie.
2. Dez Bryant’s status for the game
Cowboys star wide receiver Dez Bryant has missed the team’s last two games with a hairline fracture in his knee. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said on his weekly radio show Tuesday morning that Bryant's status for Sunday’s game is “uncertain.”
The Packers could catch a big break if Bryant is unable to go, especially if cornerback Sam Shields is forced to miss another game due to the concussion he suffered in Week 1 in Jacksonville.
Though the young secondary looked much improved against the Giants' passing attack Sunday, much of that had to do with being able to play two deep safeties the majority of the night. Capers won’t have that luxury against the Cowboys and their running game.
3. Packers get a second chance to win with Brett Favre in the house
It set up perfectly for the Packers last year on Thanksgiving. Brett Favre was in attendance, as was Bart Starr, to celebrate the retiring of Favre’s number at halftime of their game against the Chicago Bears.
On a windy, rainy evening — the kind on which Favre had led the Packers to victory countless times against the Bears — the Packers fell apart. Instead of capping off a festive day meant to help immortalize one of the franchise’s greatest players, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers played a poor game and sent Packers fans home to sulk with their Thanksgiving leftovers.
Well, this week the Packers get another chance to help honor the player who some would argue is close to solely responsible for professional football remaining in Green Bay after decades of futility.
The Packers will be wearing their throwback uniforms Sunday from the 1937-48 era. But it’s the 1996-97 championship era that will be on most people’s minds when Favre is honored at halftime. Green Bay gets another shot at sending their fans home happy with a victory while a franchise great looks on.