I hope your Turkey tasted as good as mine. Watching Favre seems to have the ability to make all else seem so much better. On Thanksgiving Day, Brett, I was Thankful to watch you.
Once again, the Packers showed their dominance. Favre showed that he is as good as any player in the NFL. And Mike McCarthy displayed that he has grown immensely in his short tenure as a Head Coach. As the Packers were clinging to a nail biting 17-9 lead at the Half, I turned to my Father-In-Law, in Wheeling, WV, and said, "On the 1st drive of the 2nd half, the Packers should go to shotgun and not run the ball until the Lions show that they can stop the best player in the NFL." McCarthy felt the same way. 7 passes. 4 different receivers. 1 TD.
I truly felt that Driver was going to win us a game - either against the Lions or the Cowboys. Driver was special. And his relationship with Favre is one for the ages. 10 catches. 147 yards. The most amazing thing about Driver - he has not scored a TD since Week 3 vs. the Chargers and he's never echoed a hint of disappointment. He defines what the Packers '07 team is all about. It's not about individuality. It's about the team.
This team lives off of guys like T-mon Williams. Williams made two plays that define the '07 Packers. 1.) On third down, he knocked the ball out of Calvin Johnson's hands to get the Packers off the field. 2.) He ran down Cason on the kickoff to save 4 points. The '07 Packers are about effort, unity, togetherness and a flat out will to win. Williams defines this notion.
The NFL has waited for this week. Green Bay at Dallas. Home field advantage at stake. Is this the mid-90's?
Call me foolish, but I feel that the significance of this game from a home field perspective is not as dramatic as most. Yes, I agree, that mentally, for Favre, this game might mean a bunch as he probably would not want to go to Dallas in the NFC Championship. But, consider this: Mike McCarthy is 10-3 on the road as a Head Coach. Additionally, one of my greatest fears with the '07 Packers is that we might not be able to win a game in conditions such as the '96 playoff game against the 49ers. If Mother Nature were to turn on a Sunday and passing the ball were to become beyond difficult, could the Packers win against an elite NFC team? Yes, we won in a mud game against the Redskins this year in a game in which we had almost no offense. And yes, Ryan Grant has improved our running game tremendously, but this remains the style of game that I don't want the Packers to have to play in the playoffs. Don't get me wrong, I would certainly prefer to play the NFC Championship at Lambeau, but a loss would not be overly devastating as long as the Packers could get over the mental hurdle of having to play in Dallas, once again.
Turning back the clock, the Packers have struggled mightily in Dallas. The two places that have beat up the Favre-led Packers the most are Dallas and Philadelphia. Nothing seems to go right. Even when we are better than them. It has seemed as though we are doomed when we enter the building.
Once again, the Favre is the general as the Packers head into Texas Stadium. In '94, on paper, the Packers were a better team than the Jason Garrett led Cowboys. In '96, the Packers were better than Dallas. In '99, the Packers were better than Dallas. Each time, the Packers left defeated. In '07, once again, Favre leads a Packers team that is better than the Cowboys.
Clearly, the Cowboys possess threats. TO is as dangerous as it gets in the NFL at the WR position. Patrick Crayton has emerged into a solid #2 receiver and he has deemed himself ready to play this Thursday. Jason Witten is one of the elite TE in the league. Tony Romo is elusive and has the ability to escape. Julius Jones and Marion Barber III make up a great speed/power combination. Additionally, the Dallas O'Line is mammoth.
But, football is about match-ups. And, if healthy, the Packers match up well. Terrell Owens meet the Rasta Man Al Harris. Harris should be able to match Owens from a physical standpoint. Crayton loves to play in the slot. Chuckie loves to cover out of the slot. If Chuckie is healthy, advantage Green Bay. So, in my mind, the objective is to slow down Terrell Owens. Give Al help over the top with Aaron Rouse. By the way, Rouse has shown a Sharper-esque nose for the football. Chuckie can take care of Crayton man-to-man.
Jason Witten has to be slowed down. We won't shut him down. But, we have to slow him down. More often than not, the Cowboys will be set up in formations that will force Brady Poppinga to be on the field. I'm sure the Cowboys are going to try and match-up Witten with Poppinga. This MUST be avoided. I would double team Witten with Hawk and Ras-A-tari. Anthony Fasano might also become an option with Poppinga in man coverage, but we'd have to take our chances with this scenario. Bottom line - Jason Witten has to be held to under 65 yards.
The Packers D-Line has been beaten up over the past two weeks. KGB, Johnny Jolly, Colin Cole, Cullen Jenkins have all missed significant time. The loss of Jolly and Cole will hurt this Thursday. Jolly has become a solid run stuffer. Dallas loves to run right at the mouth of the defense. Pickett will continue to plug holes. Corey Williams must continue to play for a contract. Harrell/Muir must step up and play with tenacity. Nick Barnett has disappeared over the last couple of weeks. He must be the filling the running lanes. On occasion this year, the Cowboys have become one dimensional. As good as Barber/Jones are, they can become frustrated. Wrap them up. Go for the strip. Get the ball!
KGB must be healthy and fit to go. If so, I expect the Packers to be able to apply pressure to the Cowboys while only rushing 4 defenders. A-to-the-K is the best DL in the NFL. His heart and passion is unmatched in the NFL. To a degree, Kampman and KGB will keep Romo in the pocket. Romo is good enough that he will make plays and the Cowboys will move the ball, but if we can contain him and keep him in the pocket, Jenkins and Corey Williams will have the opportunity to get an inside push. Don't be surprised if Cullen Jenkins makes a BIG play this weekend.
Defensively, the Cowboys will bring pressure. DeMarcus Ware, Greg Ellis, Chris Canty and Anthony Spencer can flat out bring the pressure. No worries, G-Force. The Packers will be prepared. Yes, the Cowboys will get in Favre's face on occasion, but the Cowboys are going to have to make some crucial decisions. Do you come with the blitz and play man coverage? Or do you rush 4 and take your chances in coverage? I think that the Cowboys are going to attack.
The Packers respond by going to 4-wide. Grant lined next to Favre. Out of shotgun. I expect Greg Jennings to have a monstrous game. Favre to Jones for 4 catches. Driver has 5. K-Rob has 4. But, Jennings exposes the Cowboys defense. Terrence Newman is a solid corner. But, he can't cover them all. So, the Packers send Jennings and Driver down the middle of the field. Roy Williams is lost in space. And Jennings is running by him deep down the field. Ken Hamlin has also struggled in coverage.
The O'Line provides the protection. Wade Phillips is confused. Favre is on fire. Favre throws for 350 yards and 3 more TD's. Oh, and Ryan Grant runs for 80 more yards.
G-Force, are you ready for a shoot-out? Buckle-up. We're going for a ride. This one is going to be exciting. Defensively, let's hope we are healthy. And it's another monkey off Brett's back.
Green Bay 37. Dallas 27.
G-Force, the Road to the Super Bowl comes through Lambeau! The Cowboys may wear stars on their helmets, but the Packers have the biggest Star on the field.
It's Favre Time,