Opposite Sideline: Cowboys not in awe of Packers

Aaron Nagler
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The lowdown on the Green Bay Packers' next opponent from a beat writer who covers the team. 

Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott scrambles during Dallas' game at Lambeau Field earlier this season.

The Green Bay Packers travel to Dallas to take on the Cowboys in the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs this Sunday. The Cowboys, the No.1 seed in the NFC, are coming off a well earned bye week and should be rested and ready for the red hot Packers, winners of seven straight. 

We caught up with Jon Machota, who covers the Cowboys for the Dallas Morning News, and got his thoughts on Sunday's game. You can find his answers in the video above and text below.

1. How much of a factor do you expect Dez Bryant to be in this game?

Surprisingly, the Cowboys haven’t beat the Packers with Dez Bryant on the field. They’re 0-4, including the 2014 playoff game. But I think it’s a significant factor. Even though stopping Ezekiel Elliott is the Packers’ No. 1 goal, they still have to be aware of what Bryant can do on the outside. Look for him to get some work in the slot too, maybe get him and Dak Prescott going early with some short throws.

2. Will we see any rust from the offense after the week off?

I don’t think we’ll see much rust from Elliott and the offensive line, but the passing game could struggle early from the starters not playing much in Philadelphia and having a bye week to start the playoffs. I think we could see some screens to Ezekiel Elliott, Cole Beasley or Jason Witten early to get Prescott in a rhythm.

3. Do you expect the Cowboys defense to play more zone or man against the suddenly surging  Packers offense?

I think it will mostly be man. Orlando Scandrick, Morris Claiborne and rookie Anthony Brown will all likely see some time on Randall Cobb. Brandon Carr will likely work mostly on Davante Adams and Geronimo Allison. If Jordy Nelson was somehow able to play, Carr would be on him. Second-year safety Byron Jones has had some success in man coverage against tight ends. The most interesting aspect of the Cowboys coverage in this game is really the health of Claiborne. He was their most valuable defender for the first six or seven games. He suffered a serious groin injury and Thursday was the first time he was a full go in practice since October. If he looks anything like the player we saw early in the season, he could be effective against Adams, Cobb or Allison.

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