Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) directs his team against the Chicago Bears during the first half at Lambeau Field in Green Bay on September 28, 2017. File photo by Kamil Krzaczynski/UPI
GREEN BAY PACKERS (3-1) AT DALLAS COWBOYS (2-2)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, AT&T Stadium. TV: FOX, Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews (field reporter).
SERIES HISTORY: 28th regular-season meeting. Packers lead series, 14-13. The Packers have won four of the past five, including a 37-36 barnburner the last time they played in Dallas. This is a rematch of the NFC divisional playoff from last season, which Green Bay won, 34-31.
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Packers appear to be finding their rhythm early in the season, although RB Ty Montgomery (broken ribs) and WR Davante Adams (concussion) are questionable for this one.
Aaron Rodgers and his band of wide receivers will likely determine Green Bay’s fate. Dallas ranks 20th in passing defense and 26th in points allowed (24.3).
The Cowboys lost three starters — CB Morris Claiborne, CB Brandon Carr and SS Barry Church — in free agency and their secondary remains a work in progress. Rodgers has had a field day against the Cowboys for much of his career, and he could do the same again Sunday.
Dallas looked like it was on its way to the same 3-1 record until an 11-point lead late in the third quarter melted away to a 35-30 defeat against the Rams.
The Cowboys will try to get to a familiar formula against the Packers: Control the ball with the running game and keep the defense off the field.
Dak Prescott has to be more accurate from the pocket and convert third downs. Defensively, the Cowboys are focused on keeping Rodgers in the pocket and not letting him beat them on the edge.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
–Cowboys WR Dez Bryant vs. Packers CB Damarious Randall. Bryant has struggled to start the season, but he has a chance to get well against the Packers, who lack an elite cornerback. Bryant’s best game last season came in the playoffs against the Packers when he exploited Randall for nine catches for 132 yards and two touchdowns. He will be chomping at the bit for a repeat performance on Sunday.
–Packers OT Lane Taylor vs. Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence. Taylor was moved from guard to left tackle last week due to an injury. He survived against a Bears defense that lacks a premier rusher. He won’t be so lucky if he is forced to play tackle again. Lawrence is rushing as well as any league in the league with 7.5 sacks. The Packers will need to double him, possibly opening up things for David Irving and Maliek Collins on the inside.
FRIDAY INJURY REPORT
GREEN BAY PACKERS
–Out: LB Joe Thomas (ankle)
–Doubtful: RB Ty Montgomery (ribs)
–Questionable: WR Davante Adams (concussion), T David Bakhtiari (hamstring), LB Ahmad Brooks (back), T Bryan Bulaga (ankle), DT Mike Daniels (hip), CB Davon House (quadricep), CB Quinten Rollins (ankle)
–Out: DE Charles Tapper (foot)
–Questionable: CB Anthony Brown (ankle), CB Nolan Carroll (concussion), T La’el Collins (ankle), LB Sean Lee (hamstring), DT Stephen Paea (knee), T Tyron Smith (back)
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Cowboys S Xavier Woods. Woods has impressed every time he has been on the field. The rookie is demanding more playing time and will get it. He spotted starters Byron Jones and Jeff Heath a series each against the Rams in addition to sub packages. Look for him to soak up more of Heath’s snaps in the regular defense.
FAST FACTS: In eight meetings (including playoffs), Packers QB Aaron Rodgers has averaged 269 passing yards per game and thrown 13 TD passes vs. two interceptions. He has surpassed 300 yards in five of the past six road games. … Packers WR Jordy Nelson had 75 receiving yards and two TDs in Week 4 and is going for his third straight game with at least two TDs. He leads the NFL with five receiving TDs. … Packers LB Clay Matthews notched a sack last week to give him the team record. His 75 surpassed Kareem Gbaja-Biamila’s 74.5. In five games vs. Dallas, Matthews has 3.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries and a pick-six. … Dallas QB Dak Prescott has 549 passing yards, six TDs and two interceptions in two games vs. Green Bay. … Dallas TE Jason Witten has scored in his past two home games vs. Green Bay. He is tied for second among NFC tight ends with 19 receptions. … Dallas DE DeMarcus Lawrence leads the NFL with 7.5 sacks.
PREDICTION: Rodgers is tough to rattle anywhere. If the Cowboys can’t get the running game going, they won’t be able to beat him.
OUR PICK: Packers, 26-21.