Lambeau Field and the Wisconsin winter supposedly give Green Bay a big home-field advantage for NFL playoff games, is that a safe NFL pick to place for Sunday's NFC divisional-round battle with the Dallas Cowboys?
NFC Divisional-Round Betting Odds
Most of the NFL betting market opened this game with Green Bay favored by 6.5 points, the total offered at 53, and both those numbers were holding steady in the early betting of this Divisional Round.
Those who think Dallas might win this game outright could get a price of right around +250 on the NFL moneyline at various shops.
Cowboys-Packers: The Match-Up
Dallas just rallied to beat Detroit in an NFC wild-card game Sunday 24-20, so it's now won five games in a row, and covered four of those. The Cowboys trailed the Lions 20-7 late into the third quarter Sunday, but scored the last 17 points of the game, the final seven on a Tony Romo-to-Terrance Williams scoring pass with less than three minutes to go. The Dallas defense then held from there, giving the Cowboys their first playoff victory in five years.
On the season Dallas outrushed foes by an average margin of 147-103, and if it can win the battle of the ground games this Sunday, and avoid turning the ball over, it might win this one outright.
The Packers, meanwhile, are the two seed in the NFC, playing at home, and didn't have to play last week. Green Bay has won seven of its last eight games, including a 30-20 victory over Detroit two weeks ago that clinched the NFC North title.
For the season the Packers averaged 120 yards on the ground, while allowing the exact same amount, but both those figures improved as the season progressed. In fact, the Packers have outgained and outrushed each of their last eight opponents, going 5-3 ATS in that span.
Cowboys-Packers: A Little History
These teams met most recently just 13 months ago, when the Packers came from way behind to beat the Cowboys 37-36 in Arlington, on their way to the NFC North title. And they did that without Rodgers, who was injured at the time. The Cowboys led that game 29-10 late into the third quarter, but Green Bay, with back-up Matt Flynn flinging in relief, rallied for 26 points in the last 18 minutes and an improbable victory.
The forecast for this Sunday in Green Bay calls for temps in the 20s, so conditions might not be as extreme as the Ice Bowl back in '67. But we can always hope.
Cowboys-Packers Key Numbers
Dallas ranked seventh in the league in total offense this season at 384 YPG, second in rushing at 147 YPG, 19th in total defense, allowing 355 YPG, and eighth against the run at 103 YPG.
Green Bay ranked sixth in offense at 386 YPG, 11th in rushing at 120 YPG, 15th in total defense at 346 YPG and 23rd against the run, allowing 120 YPG.
The Cowboys led the league in average time-of-possession at 32:50, while the Packers ranked 15th at 30:32. Also, Green Bay led the league in turnover margin at +14, while Dallas ranked ninth at +6.
Cowboys-Packers Betting Trends
In the “Something's Gotta Give” department Green Bay is a perfect 8-0 SU and 6-1-1 ATS at home this season, while Dallas is a perfect 8-0 SU and 7-1 ATS on the road.
Green Bay went 11-5 on the OVER/UNDERS this season, as Packers games averaged 52 points.
Dallas went 9-6-1 on the totals this season, as Cowboys games averaged 51 points.
Green Bay's Rodgers, the probable league MVP, is dealing with a calf injury, but he will play on two weeks rest, so that should help.
Cowboys-Packers NFL Handicapping
The bottom line for our NFL pick remains thus; the team that wins the ground battle, and makes the fewest mistakes, is very likely to win this game and cover this spread. Unfortunately, we're not exactly sure who that's going to be. Dallas with DeMarco Murray could go off for a buck and a half or more on the Green Bay defense, while Green Bay with Eddie Lacy/James Starks could do something similar. And who's going to commit fewer turnovers? Who knows?
This game looks closer to a toss-up than to one that should be pegged with a spread of a touchdown. And in a case like this we'd rather take the points than give them. So we'll go with the Cowboys and hope they can continue their road-warrior ways.
Free NFL Playoff Pick: Cowboys +6 (-105) at Bodog