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Cowboys-Packers could be super wild

Breaking down key factors to the Cowboys playoff game against the Packers
Breaking down key factors to the Cowboys playoff game against the Packers 03:31

DALLAS - The NFL calls this Super Wild Card Weekend. And, it certainly is wild how the matchups fell right into place, just as if the storylines were scripted in the League office

The weekend starts Saturday afternoon in Houston when C. J. Stroud and the Texans host Cleveland, which incidentally traded for Texans QB Deshaun Watson two years ago. 

Tyreek Hill will be back in Kansas City, hoping to lead the Dolphins to a win over the defending Super Bowl champs.   

Matthew Stafford heads back to Detroit as the Rams try to knock off the Lions and former Rams QB Jared Goff. 

But, here's this weekend's marquee matchup: Mike McCarthy and the Cowboys host McCarthy's old team, the Green Bay Packers. Of course. It was scripted this way.   

The Packers were a Cowboys playoff nemesis more than a half-century ago. There were back-to-back losses in NFL Championship Games in 1966-67, including the Ice Bowl in Green Bay where the game time temperature was minus-13 and the wind chill was 36 below zero. 

Green Bay's postseason dominance thawed in the 90s when the Cowboys Super Bowl teams exacted revenge with 3 straight postseason wins over the Packers, including an NFC Championship Game victory en route to their last Super Bowl win in 1996.   

More recently, however, the Packers won the "Dez Catch" divisional Playoff game in Green Bay in 2014, and Aaron Rodgers led a last-second Packers comeback to win in Arlington in 2016. 

McCarthy was on the Packers sideline then, but he may be feeling more pressure than anyone on the Cowboys sideline this time. Despite three straight 12-win regular seasons, the burden is squarely on the shoulders of the 60-year-old McCarthy to figure out a way to end Dallas' 28-year Super Bowl drought.   

McCarthy should be confident as the Cowboys look for their 17th straight home win. He's calling plays for the top-scoring offense in the NFL. Dak Prescott leads the league with 36 TD passes. Cee Dee Lamb leads the league with 135 receptions. 

Dan Quinn's defense is ranked 5th in the league in scoring, passing and rushing. Micah Parsons (14 sacks) leads an aggressive front that tops the league in quarterback pressures.  

However, Green Bay ranks just behind the Cowboys with 45 sacks. Both are ranked in the top 10 in the league. The Packers big, physical front 4 pass rushers — OLB Rashan Gary, OLB Preston Smith, DT Kenny Clark, and DT Devonte Wyatt — have combined for 30 sacks. 

The Dallas defense has picked off 17 passes. Cowboys Pro Bowl CB DaRon Bland, with 9 picks and 5 TDs, has more interceptions than the entire Packers team, which has 7.   

The key to the game could be Packers 1st year QB Jordan Love, who got off to a 2-5 start as Aaron Rodgers' replacement. But since then, Love has led the Packers to 6 wins in their last 8 games. He has 18 TD passes and just one interception during that time. The current roll started with back-to-back wins in late November over two division champions, Detroit and Kansas City. 

Green Bay has established a ground game during their current 3-game win streak as Aaron Jones, the 8-year veteran from UTEP, has over 100 yards rushing in all three games, averaging a hefty 5.7 yards per carry. Jones rushed for 138 yards and a TD against Dallas last season.  

Matt LaFleur's Packers are a dangerous, young team. No less than nine of their 13 draft picks this year are playing key roles down the stretch. 

Rookie receivers Jayden Reed and Dontayvion Wicks have combined for 14 TDs; 2nd-year receivers Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson have scored 13 TDs.   

Watson found the end zone 3 times against the Cowboys in a 31-28 Packers overtime win in Green Bay last season. He's been nursing a hamstring injury since scoring 2 TDs against Kansas City. But if Watson is healthy, look out! Meanwhile, Cowboys veteran CB Stephon Gilmore is not healthy, revealing this week he will wear a harness to protect his injured shoulder.

The Cowboys-Packers storylines are never-ending. After studying both these teams, this could easily wind up being the marquee matchup of Super Wild Card Weekend. 

The Packers have nothing to lose. Mike McCarthy and the Cowboys have everything to lose. Just the way the NFL scripted it.  

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