NFL : Thursday Football

NFL : Thursday Football

Three key mismatches in Packers-Cowboys clash
Covers.com

Green Bay travels to Dallas on Thursday for the biggest NFC game of the season. It’s likely to be a close contest, so bettors must take extra care to find an edge. We’ve identified several key mismatches that could affect the outcome.

Packers quarterback Brett Favre vs. Cowboys’ pass defense

The Cowboys’ pass defense ranks 21st in the league and is arguably the weakest part of the Dallas team. With an in-form quarterback like Brett Favre under center, the Packers’ offense is well-placed to capitalize.

Dallas ranks near the top of the NFL in almost every area of the field. The one exception is defending the pass. It is allowing 217.1 yards per game in the air, and 15 of the 23 touchdowns the Cowboys have given up have come from the pass.

Favre, meanwhile, has been slicing and dicing his way through defenses from Day 1 this season. The veteran has 3,356 yards and 22 touchdowns and leads an offense designed to put the ball in the air.

The Packers play with five receivers on the field in most situations and that’s going to put severe pressure on a questionable Dallas secondary.

Dallas running back Marion Barber vs. Packers’ rush defense

Marion Barber’s combative style and ability to wear down defenses led teammate Terrell Owens to dub him “Marion The Barbarian”. Expect the Dallas running back to see a lot of the ball against a Packers rush defense ranked 13th in the league.

While the Cowboys offense revolves around quarterback Tony Romo and wide receiver Owens, it turns to Barber when things get tough. He is the go-to guy in third-down situations, and is an expert at finding holes in opposing defenses at critical points of the game.

Barber has rushed 713 yards and eight touchdowns this season, averaging 4.95 yards per carry. He should build on those numbers against a defense that is allowing more than 100 yards on the ground per game. In its most recent game, Green Bay allowed Lions running back Kevin Jones to rush for 93 yards and a touchdown.

Packers DEs Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila and Aaron Kampman vs. Cowboys QB Tony Romo

Tony Romo has been sacked 22 times in 11 games and that could get a whole lot worse against Green Bay. The Packers boast two of the best defensive ends in the league. Both rank among the top five players in sacks this season.

Aaron Kampman is third with 10 and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila is fifth with 9.5. The duo has combined for eight sacks in the last four games, making the Packers one of only six teams in the NFL with 30 or more sacks this season.

Defensive tackle Corey Williams has chipped in with another seven, five of those coming in the last month.

Romo will be praying for better pass protection this week, but there’s nothing to suggest he will get it. The Cowboys QB was sacked three times against the Jets in his most recent start. In fact, Romo has been sacked three times or more in four games this season.

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Crayton "Good To Go" For Packers Game

IRVING, Texas - Cowboys wide receiver Patrick Crayton returned to practice Monday and said his left ankle is "good to go" for Thursday's pivotal game against the Green Bay Packers.

Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips agreed, saying "it looks real positive for him as far as playing" in the NFC's battle of 10-1 teams at Texas Stadium.

"(He) started out a little slow but looked good as the practice went on," Phillips said of his starting receiver, who missed the Cowboys' Thanksgiving Day win over the Jets after spraining his ankle four days earlier against Washington.

Crayton said he might have been able to play on Thanksgiving if not for the team's short week.

"It's possible," he said. "We would have had more time to treat it and everything. This week we're good to go."

Phillips said he'll see how Crayton's ankle responds the next two days before deciding whether he'll resume primary punt return duties. Cornerback Terence Newman and running back Marion Barber split the load against New York, with Newman returning three for an 8.7-yard average.

Phillips said cornerback Anthony Henry (ankle) will continue working in the substitute packages against Green Bay, still somewhat limited from the high ankle sprain he suffered Sept. 30 against St. Louis.

Wide receiver Terry Glenn was the only player who missed practice, still rehabbing from a Sept. 13 knee scope. Phillips has essentially ruled him out of Thursday's game even though the Cowboys are not obligated to release an official injury report until Tuesday. The Cowboys are hoping Glenn can return sometime in the next few weeks.

dallascowboys.com

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NFC Championship preview?
VegasInsider.com 

Now that we know New England isn't a sure cover, even against lower echelon NFL teams such as Philadelphia, the eyes of pro football are focused on Thursday's key NFC match up between 10-1 Dallas and Green Bay.

If you don't have access to the NFL Network, however, forget about watching it.

It's not being shown to the masses.

Both clubs will be playing after Thanksgiving Day victories, which means that they will have a normal week's rest.

Green Bay belted Detroit, while Dallas downed the New York Jets in early Week 12 games.

Las Vegas Sports Consultants sent the number out at Cowboys minus 6 1/2, but it was a touchdown across the board at Las Vegas bet shops on Tuesday.

The total was 51 1/2 to 52.

"This game should be a really good one," said LVSC chief oddsmaker Ken White, who called Green Bay a take at minus 7.

VegasInsider.com handicapper Jimmy Boyd believes Dallas, a/k/a America's team, will benefit from the home-field advantage and win straight up.

Boyd finds the identical 10-1 records interesting.

“Dallas was expected to challenge for NFC supremacy, but Green Bay was considered a long shot, with most Vegas books opening futures on the Packers in the 50/1 and up range.”

“Numbers have been plummeting throughout the season.”

“The AFC remains a double-digit Super Bowl favorite.”

“I still feel like the Pack is overachieving," Boyd observed succinctly.

"Dallas is legit and home field gives them the edge, just as oddsmakers are seeing it."

Another team that Boyd wanted to discuss was defending NFC titlist Chicago, which is 5-6 following an overtime victory against visiting Denver on Sunday.

Each thinks it may be a bit early to count the Bears out of everything.

Boyd explained, “If the Bears are coming on while Detroit is folding, they still have a (playoff) shot.”

"All their remaining games are very winnable, in my opinion."

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NFL Preview - Green Bay (10-1) at Dallas (10-1)

(Sports Network) - Inside position in the race for homefield playoff advantage will be the chief enticement at Texas Stadium on Thursday night, when the Dallas Cowboys welcome the Green Bay Packers to town in a pivotal battle between 10-1 teams.

The Cowboys and Packers share the second-best record in the NFL, behind only 11-0 New England, and don't have another NFC team within three games of them as Week 13 begins.

Homestanding Dallas, which has won five in a row since sustaining its only loss of the year to the Patriots, is three games ahead of the New York Giants in the NFC East. Wade Phillips' squad swept a home-and-home with the Giants earlier this season, meaning their magic number to win the division currently stands at two games. A win for the Cowboys on Thursday and a loss for New York on Sunday in Chicago would hand Dallas its first division crown since 1998.

But a victory over the Packers, which would also give America's Team its first 11-win season since 1995, hardly figures to come easy for Phillips and company.

Green Bay makes its way to the Lone Star state having won six in a row following its only loss of the year against Chicago, and moved to 5-0 on the road this season with a 37-26 takedown of Detroit on Thanksgiving Day.

That triumph extended the Packers' lead to four games in the NFC North, and a win over Dallas coupled with a Lions loss at Minnesota on Sunday would spell Green Bay's first division title since the 2004 campaign.

Mike McCarthy's team, which has won 14 of its last 15 games dating back to last year, will also be vying for its first 11-win season since 2002 on Thursday night.

SERIES HISTORY


The all-time regular season series between Dallas and Green Bay is knotted, 10-10, with the Packers evening the series by virtue of a 41-20 win when the teams last met, at Lambeau Field in 2004. The Cowboys won the previous matchup, scoring a 27-13 win at Texas Stadium in 1999. Green Bay is 0-5 in regular season games played in Dallas since last winning there in 1989.

In addition to their regular season history, the clubs have met six times in the postseason, with Dallas holding a 4-2 edge. The Cowboys have won four straight playoff games against Green Bay since the 1967 NFL Championship, better known as the "Ice Bowl." Dallas' most recent playoff win over Green Bay was a 38-27 triumph for the 1995 NFC Championship.

Phillips is 1-1 in his career against the Packers, scoring a win against them while with the Bills in 2000 and a loss while with the Broncos in 1993. The Packers' McCarthy will be meeting both Phillips and the Cowboys for the first time as a head coach.

WHEN THE PACKERS HAVE THE BALL

Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre (3356 passing yards, 22 TD, 8 INT) has experienced a personal renaissance in 2007, but will face fewer questions about that this week than about his career-long struggles at Texas Stadium. Favre is 0-8 in Dallas since first appearing there in 1993, including 0-3 in playoff games between 1993 and 1995, and has lost all eight Irving appearances by double-digits. On Thursday, the future Hall-of-Famer will look to a strong receiving corps headed by veteran Donald Driver (63 receptions, 2 TD) and youngsters Greg Jennings (39 receptions, 9 TD) and James Jones (40 receptions, 2 TD), along with tight end Donald Lee (39 receptions, 4 TD), to help him end his drought in Big D. Driver turned in a 10-catch, 147-yard outing against the Lions on Thanksgiving, and Jennings scored two touchdowns in the victory. A running game that once ranked last in the league has come along nicely since Ryan Grant (494 rushing yards, 2 TD, 24 receptions) entered the lineup. The first-year player out of Notre Dame has gone over 100 yards in three of his last five appearances, and has also been a capable pass-catching threat out of the backfield. A young offensive line has allowed Favre to be sacked just 14 times all year.

Favre and his receivers will want to take some shots downfield against a Dallas defense that counts deep coverage as perhaps its greatest liability. Cornerbacks Terence Newman (31 tackles, 3 INT) and Anthony Henry (17 tackles, 5 INT) have both made their share of plays this year, but safeties Roy Williams (66 tackles, 2 INT) and Ken Hamlin (43 tackles, 4 INT) have not been of the greatest assistance to the team's pass-defending efforts. Newman had a 50-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Jets last week. The Cowboys are just 21st in the league against the pass (217 yards per game) despite the solid work of a pass rush that has managed 30 sacks through 11 games. Outside linebacker Greg Ellis (19 tackles, 8.5 sacks) posted two sacks of New York's Kellen Clemens last week, growing closer to fellow LB Demarcus Ware (63 tackles, 9 sacks) on the team list in that category. Dallas has been stronger against the run in 2007, ranking fourth in the league versus ground attacks (82.1 yards per game) and surrendering just two rushes of 20 yards or longer. Linebackers Bradie James (69 tackles, 2 sacks), Akin Ayodele (39 tackles), and the safety Williams are among the team's top run-stuffers, with ends Marcus Spears (19 tackles, 1 sack) and Chris Canty (29 tackles, 3 INT) among those controlling things at the point of attack.

WHEN THE COWBOYS HAVE THE BALL


Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (3043 passing yards, 29 TD, 13 INT), a native of Burlington, WI, will face the somewhat unique task of trying to defeat his boyhood idol Favre. Given the way Romo has tackled his other tough assignments this season, you wouldn't expect the blossoming signal-caller to cower in the face of the challenge. Romo has thrown multiple touchdown passes in all but one game this season, and his 29 TDs rank second in the league behind only Tom Brady. Against the Jets, the Eastern Illinois product found favorite targets Terrell Owens (64 receptions, 13 TD) and tight end Jason Witten (59 receptions, 6 TD) for scoring plays, though he also threw an interception for a fourth consecutive game and was sacked three times. Wideout Patrick Crayton (33 receptions, 5 TD), who sat out last Thursday's contest with an ankle injury, is expected to return against the Packers. In the running game, Marion Barber (715 rushing yards, 29 receptions, 8 TD) will be trying to build on an 18-carry, 103-yard outing against the Jets, a performance that marked his best rushing performance since the 2005 season. Dallas is 11th in the league in rushing offense (122.9 yards per game) as Week 13 commences.

Green Bay's main concern entering Thursday's game is the state of a banged-up defense, one that could be without starters such as cornerback Charles Woodson (toe), safety Nick Collins (knee), and tackle Johnny Jolly (shoulder), as well as sack artist Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (ankle/knee) and key safety backup Aaron Rouse (knee). Of that group, Woodson (48 tackles, 4 INT) and Collins (29 tackles) appear most likely to play, with Collins hoping to re-join the lineup after missing three games. Statistically, the Packers come into Dallas ranked 13th against the run (100.1 yards per game) and 18th against the pass (215.3 yards per game). The strongest element of Green Bay's defensive game against the Lions was pressure, with end Aaron Kampman (51 tackles, 11 sacks) notching two of the team's four sacks of Jon Kitna. A linebacking corps led by Nick Barnett (91 tackles, 2 INT, 1.5 sacks) in the middle and A.J. Hawk (72 tackles, 1 INT) on the outside has done a good job controlling the run this year, but allowed Detroit's nondescript ground attack to churn out 134 yards last week. The absence of Jolly (21 tackles, 1 sack), who is likely to replaced this week by rookie and first-round draft choice Justin Harrell (2 tackles), could have had an impact on that somewhat lackluster showing.

FANTASY FOCUS


With two of the most prolific offenses in the league going Thursday night, many fantasy owners will be expecting to start their Week 13 with a bang. Both quarterbacks have been among the most reliable signal-callers in the league this year, and should come up with a healthy amount of fantasy points. For Dallas, the must-start targets have been Owens and Witten, with Crayton a possibility as a No. 2 or flex in certain leagues. Green Bay's best fantasy targets have been Driver, who has averaged 98 yards per game over his last four, and Jennings, who has scored in seven of his last nine games. Packers tight end Lee isn't a sure thing as far as fantasy production goes, but is worth considering thanks to three touchdowns in his last three games. In a game that could be high-scoring, you might want to deliberate over whether starting the Dallas or Green Bay defenses is a prudent move. Rookie kickers Nick Folk (Dallas) and Mason Crosby (Green Bay) can be counted on for production, however.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

This figures to be a terrific game between two of the league's best and most exciting teams, and might only be a first act in a 2007 series that could resume in the NFC Championship game. By that time, the circumstances might be different, but as of this moment, the Cowboys have a slight edge. Dallas is a veteran team that has faced more big-game situations as a unit, and also happens to be healthier than Green Bay at this stage. A battered Packer pass defense could have trouble consistently stopping Romo and his fleet of targets, while a young Green Bay o-line could have a few problems against the 3-4 and the attacking Dallas defense. The Packers will make it a game and will hang in until the end, but won't make enough big plays in the fourth quarter to pull out the victory.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cowboys 27, Packers 20

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Re: NFL : Thursday Football

Packers-Cowboys won't be seen by everyone
November 27, 2007

Associated Press

Chuck Woehler doesn't understand the intricacies of the feud between the NFL Network and the big cable companies, nor does he care to. All he knows is he won't be able to watch his beloved Dallas Cowboys from his San Antonio home as he can every other week -- and he faults the NFL for that.

Football fans will feel the impact of the wrangling like never before when two teams with 10-1 records and huge national appeal face off Thursday night on a channel available in fewer than 40 percent of the country's households.

For the many who haven't closely followed the traded barbs about sports tiers, FCC regulations and cease-and-desist letters, the issue is simply that they want to watch a game and can't. How they react -- and who they blame -- will test each side's conviction that its strategy will prevail.

The potential repercussions are especially powerful because the Cowboys and Packers boast large regional, even national fan bases.

For viewers outside Texas and Wisconsin who don't subscribe to satellite TV or one of the smaller cable providers that carry the network, their plight won't be unprecedented. On a Sunday afternoon, even the biggest of matchups might not be on free TV in some areas because of conflicts with local teams' games. Small pockets of the country didn't get two highly anticipated meetings of undefeated squads earlier this season: the New England Patriots' showdowns with the Cowboys and the Indianapolis Colts.

But in places like San Antonio and Madison, Wis., the ability to watch the Cowboys or Packers is assumed to be as natural as the sun rising every morning.

NFL Network games are simulcast on free TV in the teams' home markets, so fans in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Milwaukee and Green Bay areas are all set. That leaves an estimated 4 million viewers in other parts of the states who don't get the channel.

Like Woehler, many of those deprived Cowboys and Packers loyalists directed their ire at the NFL.

"It annoys me," said Teresa Werhane of DeForest, Wis., north of Madison. "This is a huge game. Whose decision was it to put it on the NFL Network? That seems pretty stupid to me. It's really going to (expletive) off a lot of fans in the long run."

She was considering calling a friend with a satellite, even though they haven't seen each other in months. There's always a bar, though she has to work Friday morning.

Some other fans don't enjoy such options. Mike Martel owns several nursing homes in the San Antonio area, where a standard Sunday activity is gathering in the common room to watch the Cowboys. Because the homes get basic cable, residents won't see Thursday's game.

"We think it's because of the greed of the NFL," Martel said.

Dawn Harrod of Wausau, Wis., is worried about her 95-year-old mother, an avid Packers fan who will miss the game.

The Packers should be on local TV, Harrod said. If not, she wouldn't be willing to pay Charter, her cable company, more to get the NFL Network.

"They should provide it," she said of Charter. "We pay enough already."

NFL Network officials are encouraging fans to switch from providers that don't offer the channel to those that do. They think enough defections will pressure the major cable companies into concessions.

A full-page ad in the sports section of Monday's Wausau (Wis.) Daily Herald blared, "You won't get Green Bay vs. Dallas on Charter." The ad offered the NFL Network and more than 100 other channels for $29.99 a month through Dish Network.

Wausau is about 100 miles from Green Bay.

At Satellite Country, which installs Dish and DirecTV systems in Austin, Texas, the recent spurt of calls from customers wanting to sign up to get the NFL Network has been unmistakable.

"Everybody's noticed it," said Bergen Miele, who works in sales.

Other fans bristled at the notion of changing providers just because of the NFL Network.

"I'm not going to buy satellite to catch one game or two games a week," said Timothy Smith, a Cowboys fan in San Antonio.

At Fatso's, the sports bar where he is a manager, "the phone has been ringing nonstop" in recent days as people ask whether the game will be on there.

The issue of whose homes get the NFL Network and whose don't was a topic of conversation during a staff meeting this week at Woehler's place of employment, St. Thomas Episcopal Church. As priest, Woehler has offers from a couple of parishioners to come over to watch the game.

Consternation about the NFL Network's lack of availability could resurface the last week of the season if the Patriots stand one win from a 16-0 record heading into their meeting with the New York Giants.

Fans in the Boston area will get the game on free TV, but not those in other parts of New England.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, the chairman of the league's NFL Network committee, sounded giddy earlier this month discussing the appeal of Packers-Cowboys and Patriots-Giants. He was confident that airing the high-profile matchups on the channel wouldn't backfire on the league.

While nobody could have predicted Dallas and Green Bay would be battling for home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs, Jones said, the fact both teams are so widely popular contributed to the decision to place the game on the channel.

"It's no accident that two of the eight games are Cowboys games," he said of this season's NFL Network slate.

Last year, only three of the eight contests featured two squads with winning records. The best matchup was probably the 6-5 Cincinnati Bengals against the 9-2 Baltimore Ravens.

Jones used the example of the huge numbers of Cowboys fans in Austin and San Antonio as evidence the big cable companies should carry the channel.

"I don't think fans mind us allocating resources to build" the network, Jones said.

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What bettors need to know: Packers at Cowboys
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Mutual respect society


As a football-mad kid growing up in Packers country, Tony Romo idolized Brett Favre. This week he leads the Dallas Cowboys against Favre and the Packers in what is easily the most important NFC game of the season.

No surprise then that Romo spent most of this week dodging questions about Favre. "I can understand the angle and it's nice and it's fun, but I have to beat the guy this week," he told the Dallas Star-Telegram.

Based on history, Romo has a great chance at doing just that. Favre is 0-8 in Dallas over his long career, and 0-5 in the regular season. The Cowboys eliminated Favre and the Packers in the playoffs in three straight years in 1993-95.

Remarkably, at the age of 38, Favre appears to be in the best shape to achieve that elusive first win. He has clocked 3,356 yards and 22 touchdowns this season, and has thrown for more than 300 yards in seven of his 11 games.

Romo, meanwhile, is matching that pace. He has produced 3,043 yards and 29 TDs, and earned the ultimate praise from Favre this week.

“I think in a nutshell his creativity with his legs is what, when I see him play, reminds me of myself,” the Packers QB said of Romo in the Star Telegram. “It's making something out of nothing. It's probably the same mentality I had.”

This is the first meeting of two teams with a 10-1 (or better) record since 1993. The winner will clinch a playoff berth and is likely to gain home-field advantage throughout the conference playoffs.

Worried about Witten

From Terrell Owens at wide receiver to Marion Barber and Julius Jones at running back, the Cowboys’ offense boasts a variety of dangerous weapons. But Green Bay’s defense isn’t forgetting about the threat from tight end Jason Witten.

The fifth-year pro has 750 receiving yards and six touchdowns for the season. At 6-foot-5 and 256 pounds, he has the ability to hold off defenders.

The Packers plan to use his lack of speed against him.

“I think we have a pretty good game plan for that tight end," Nick Barnett, the Packers' middle linebacker, told the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

“Witten's not the fastest guy, you can run with him. He's just smart and knows how to work away from your leverage and where to sit to catch balls. If we execute our fundamentals we should be able to shut him down."

Witten is at his most dangerous when Romo leaves the pocket. Because of his size and extremely safe hands, Witten is his quarterback’s primary target when Romo scrambles or gets into trouble. Barnett has a plan to deal with that too.

"Guys don't know that once the quarterback starts to move around (outside the pocket), you can knock your guy to the ground," he added. “That's what I plan on doing. The quarterback is out of the pocket and your back's to me, I'm going to have to put you on your face. It saves me a lot of energy."

In the last meeting between Dallas and Green Bay – in October 2004 – Witten had 112 yards and a touchdown in a 41-20 Cowboys loss.

Crayton returns

Cowboys receiver Patrick Crayton was back at practice this week and says he expects to play in Thursday night’s showdown with the Packers. He missed last week’s win over the Jets with an ankle injury.

“I’m good to go,” he told reporters ahead of Monday’s practice.

After the two-hour workout, Dallas coach Wade Phillips sounded positive when asked if the receiver would feature this week. "Patrick Crayton practiced today, started out a little slow but looked good as the practice went on," the coach told ESPN.com. "It looks real positive for him as far as playing."

Crayton has 466 yards and five touchdowns on 31 receptions this season. He was the third-string receiver last season, but an injury to Terry Glenn handed him a starting role. The 25-year-old has flourished a starter, taking advantage of defenses that are more worried about Terrell Owens and Jason Witten.

Depending on his fitness, Crayton could also return punts against Green Bay.

"We'll wait to see how healthy he is. But I was encouraged today," Phillips added. "He did catch on punts and stuff."

Packers’ injury concerns

While the Cowboys get a key offensive player back in Crayton, the Packers could be without two defensive stalwarts. Cornerback Charles Woodson and defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila were both limited in practice this week and are questionable for the game.

"They have 50-plus hours until kickoff," Packers coach Mike McCarthy told the Wisconsin State Journal on Tuesday, implying that they will both be game-time decisions. "We're going to give them the full amount to get ready."

Woodson hurt the big toe in his right foot in last week’s win against Detroit, and managed some jogging in Tuesday’s practice. Gbaja-Biamila suffered knee and ankle injuries in the same game and could only do what McCarthy called “a rehab workout” on Tuesday.

Gbaja-Biamila, who has 9.5 sacks this season, said it was “truly a miracle” that he didn’t suffer serious knee damage when Lions right tackle Blaine Saipaia fell awkwardly on his leg.

He added about the knee: “It feels good. It's the coaches' call, but I'm ready to play. I'm looking forward to the game – it's a big game, and I want to be in it.”

If Gbaja-Biamila can’t go, he will be replaced by second-year pro Jason Hunter. And if Woodson were unable to play, cornerback Jarrett Bush would move into the starting lineup, while either Frank Walker or Tramon Williams would play in the nickel defense.

Head to head

The home team has won 10 straight meetings between Dallas and Green Bay. The Cowboys are 6-2 ATS in their last eight meetings with the Packers, covering in five-straight home games against them.

Green Bay is a league-best 9-1-1 ATS this season, while Dallas is 8-3-0. The over is 5-1 in the last six meetings.

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Green Bay (10-1, 9-1-1 ATS) at Dallas (10-1, 8-3 ATS)

The NFC’s game of the year comes from Texas Stadium, where the Cowboys host the Packers in clash of red-hot one-loss teams.

Green Bay won its sixth consecutive game on Thanksgiving Day in Detroit, rolling 37-26 as a 3½-point road favorite. The Packers, who are on a 5-0 ATS tear, got another outstanding performance from future Hall of Fame QB Brett Favre, who went 31-for-41 for 381 yards with three TD passes and no INTs, at one point completing a club-record 20 consecutive throws.

After the Packers disposed of the Lions last Thursday, the Cowboys took the field at home and won their fifth in a row by manhandling the Jets 34-3, easily covering despite being a hefty 14½-point favorite. Dallas outgained New York by 164 total yards (344-180), including finishing with a 174-60 edge on the ground. The Cowboys are 4-1 ATS during their winning streak.

The straight-up winner is 24-1-2 ATS over the last two seasons for Green Bay (10-0-1 ATS this year). Also, the straight-up winner is 23-4-1 ATS (including one playoff game) in Dallas’ last 27 starts, including 9-2 ATS this season.

The Packers are a stunning 14-1 SU and 12-2-1 ATS in their last 14 games dating to last season, including 7-0 SU and ATS on the road (5-0 SU and ATS as a visitor in 2007). Their only blemish this year was a 27-20 home loss to the Bears.

Dallas’ only loss this season was a 48-27 defeat to the Patriots as a five-point home underdog back on Oct. 14. Including that contest, the Cowboys are 5-1 at home (4-2 ATS).

The Cowboys have outgained eight of their 10 opponents, while Green Bay has come out on the positive end of the yardage battle in seven of its 10 contests. For the season, Dallas averages 32.5 points and 388.4 total yards per game (122.6 rushing ypg), while the Packers put up 27 points and 380.4 total yards (81.8 rushing ypg).

Favre is having a phenomenal year at age 38, completing 68.5 percent of his passes for 3,356 yards with 22 TDs and just eight INTs. His counterpart in this game has been equally as impressive, as second-year Cowboys QB Tony Romo is connecting on 66.2 percent of his throws for 3,043 yards with a franchise-record 29 TDs and 13 INTs.

Defensively, Green Bay gives up fewer points per game (16.8 vs. 20.1 for Dallas), but the Cowboys yield fewer yards (299.1 vs. 315.4 for the Packers).

Although they haven’t visited Dallas since 1999, the Packers are 0-8 all-time in Texas Stadium with Favre as the quarterback, going 1-7 ATS.

The over is 12-5 in Dallas’ last 17 games (8-3 this year) and 10-4-1 in its last 15 as a favorite. Also, the Packers have hurdled the total in seven of their last 10, including four of five on the highway.

ATS ADVANTAGE: OVER

gametimepicks.com

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Five things to watch during Packers-Cowboys

Not to brag, because I really am above that sort of thing, but I am going to see one heck of a football game on Thursday night -- the Packers at the Cowboys -- and you, sad soul, are not.

Assuming, that is, you don't get the NFL Network and won't be heading over to a sports bar or a friend's house to watch it.

No biggie, though -- it's merely the second time in 37 years that two teams with records of 10-1 or better will hook up this late in the season.

So you won't be missing anything.

"It's not my battle. It's really not," says NFL Network analyst Cris Collinsworth of the massively annoying disconnect between millions of fans and the games that are carried live by the cable network that first went on the air in 2003.

"But I'm hoping that with some of the media attention that this issue, if you will, has gotten, people will have enough advance time between now and Thursday to find a way to watch this game."

Not to slam Collinsworth, because none of this is his fault, but give me a break. Enough advance time to find a way to watch the game? This is the NFL, dude. It's not supposed to be that complicated.

On principle, if I weren't covering that game for work, there's no way -- NO WAY -- I'd go out of my way to watch it on TV. I may be a sucker for good football, but I'm not a pathetic sucker.

And it will only get worse. If you don't already know it, stick this rotten egg in your mouth and suck on it: The Patriots will play at the Giants -- on the NFL Network -- the final Saturday of the regular season. So you might not get to watch the Pats go for 16-0 in what should be one of the highest-profile matchups of the whole season. Boo!

But back to Packers-Cowboys. The five little big things I am most excited to see:

1. Who will be more Favre-like, Brett Favre or Tony Romo? As talented as Romo is, my favorite thing about him is the joy with which he plays. He smiles, laughs, talks smack with defensive linemen, runs around like a maniac and routinely makes chicken salad out of chicken scratch -- all like a young Favre. Old Favre has become more of a pocket passer; he has kind of reinvented himself, which is extremely impressive. But they both still have more fun than just about anybody on the football field.

2. DeMarcus Ware playing like Adalius Thomas without quite as much pub. "Ware is so much more than a pass rusher," Collinsworth told me on Monday. "He is a linebacker who makes plays everywhere. And we'll be talking a lot about him during the game." I'll miss out on the commentary, but my eyes will be locked on to Ware as he covers receivers downfield, stuffs the run and, yes, rushes the passer.

3. Aaron Kampman the madman. The Packers' stud is leading the NFL in sacks with 11.0 (Ware is tied for seventh with 9.0), and I can see him making a run at 20 if he nails the risk-taker Romo a couple of times. You often hear about players' "motors." Well, Kampman is a motor guy and then some.

4. The Al Harris-Terrell Owens matchup. Is Denver's Champ Bailey still the best cornerback in football? I don't know -- maybe it's Harris. One thing for sure is he will line up across from Owens and feel no fear. But Owens will get his anyway, I assume. Two great players.

5. Green, gold, brats and beer bellies outside Texas Stadium. Cowboys fans are great, and they know how to have a good time. But -- sorry, Big D -- Packers fans have more fun than anybody. I live in St. Louis, where the locals love to say that Cardinals fans are the best fans in sports. Bogus! Packers fans crush Cards fans.

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Re: NFL : Thursday Football

Underdog Packers visit Cowboys in Thursday Nighter

- A pair of cover machines meet Thursday in Dallas in a game that is likely to decide home-field advantage in the NFC. Green Bay brings its surprising 10-1 mark to Big D to face a Cowboys team boasting the same impressive record, but the Packers have struggled here, going 0-6 ATS while losing eight straight overall.

Brett Favre threw three touchdowns in leading the Packers to a 37-26 Thanksgiving Day win over the Lions on Thursday. The Packers covered the 3.5-point spread, and the game's combined 63 points sailed OVER the posted total of 47.

Favre completed 31-of-41 for 381 yards for the Packers, who improved to 10-1 with the victory.

Tony Romo threw two touchdown passes to lead the Cowboys to a 34-3 rout of the Jets on Thanksgiving Day. The Cowboys had no trouble covering the 14.5-point spread at Texas Stadium, while the game's 37 points were UNDER the posted total of 48.

Romo completed 21-of-28 pass attempts for 195 yards, and Marion Barber ran for 103 yards off 18 carries with a TD.

Current streak:
Green Bay has won 6 straight games.
Dallas has won 5 straight games.

Team records:
Green Bay: 10-1 SU, 9-1-1 ATS
Dallas: 10-1 SU, 8-3 ATS

Green Bay most recently:
When playing in November are 5-5
When playing on turf are 6-4
After outgaining opponent are 9-1
When playing outside the division are 8-2

Dallas most recently:
When playing in November are 8-2
When playing on turf are 7-3
After outgaining opponent are 8-2
When playing outside the division are 7-3

A few trends to consider:
Green Bay is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games
Green Bay is 5-0 ATS in its last 5 games
Green Bay is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games on the road
Green Bay is 5-0 ATS in its last 5 games on the road
Dallas is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games
Dallas is 5-0 ATS in its last 5 games when playing at home against Green Bay
Dallas is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games when playing at home against Green Bay
The total has gone OVER in 10 of Dallas's last 11 games when playing Green Bay

Next up:
Green Bay home to Oakland, Sunday, December 9
Dallas at Detroit, Sunday, December 9

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NFL Gameday: Packers at Cowboys

The best two teams in the NFC collide on Thursday night when Terrell Owens and the 10-1 Dallas Cowboys face Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers as Week 13 in the NFL gets started early. Barring a New York Mets-like collapse, the Packers and Cowboys are both assured a trip to the playoffs so this game should end up deciding home-field advantage should they meet up again in the postseason.

The Cowboys are coming off a 34-3 rout of the Jets as a 14.5-point favorite on Thanksgiving. Dallas controlled the game from the start, as Tony Romo completed 21-of-28 passes for 195 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Marion Barber had a strong game on the ground with 103 rushing yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. Terrell Owens caught six passes for 65 yards and a touchdown, while Jason Witten also had a TD catch, while hauling in four passes for 54 yards. On defense the Cowboys stopped the Jets at every turn, with Terrence Newman and Greg Ellis both delivering standout performances. Newman returned an interception 50 yards for a touchdown, while Ellis recorded a pair of sacks. Ellis is second on the team with 8.5 sacks despite missing the first three games of the season.

The Packers also played on Thanksgiving last week and defeated Detroit 37-26 as a 3-point favorite. Brett Favre continued re-writing the record books while completing 31-of-41 passes for 381 yards with three touchdown passes. Ryan Grant did not show any ill effects from a mild ankle sprain and rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. Donald Driver led all receivers with 10 receptions for 147 yards, while Greg Jennings caught a pair of touchdown passes.

On defense the Packers had a rough day last week after losing two key players to injury. Cornerback Charles Woodson leads the team with four interceptions, but he is questionable for Thursday’s game after suffering a toe injury last week. Defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila also went down with an ankle injury and could be out on Thursday. Gbaja-Biamila is second on the team with 9.5 sacks, 1.5 behind Aaron Kampman who leads the league with 11 after recording a pair against Detroit last week.

It’s been a few years since Dallas and Green Bay have clashed, with their last meeting taking place back in 2004. The Packers defeated the Cowboys 41-20 as a 4-point home favorite in that game. It’s been quite a different story when these two teams meet in Dallas. The Cowboys have defeated the Packers eight straight times at Texas Stadium, and they have covered the spread in seven of those victories. In Thursday night’s game, the Cowboys are a 7-point favorite.

[img]http://www.betjm.com/images/bjm_pick15_site.gif[/img]

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Packers at Cowboys
VegasInsider.com

Gamblers might have to hit the sports bar tonight for Green Bay’s trip to Dallas. That’s because this battle for NFC supremacy will be televised on the NFL Network, a station that most of America doesn’t get on regular cable.

Most sports books are listing Dallas (10-1 straight up, 8-3 against the spread) as a seven-point favorite with a total of 51 ½. Bettors can back the Packers on the money line for a plus 250 payout (risk $100 to win $250).

The Cowboys have won five in a row since its lone loss of the year against unbeaten New England, compiling a 4-1 spread record during that stretch. They are off a dominating 34-3 win over the Jets on Thanksgiving Day. Wade Phillips’ team easily cashed tickets as 14 ½-point favorites, while the 37 combined points stayed ‘under’ the 48-point total.

Marion Barber ran for 103 yards and one touchdown, while Tony Romo threw for 195 yards and a pair of scores. Terrell Owens had six receptions for 65 yards, including a 22-yard TD grab.

Green Bay (10-1 SU, 9-1-1 ATS) has won six straight, posting a 5-0-1 ATS record in the process. The Packers won a 37-26 decision at Detroit as 3 ½-point ‘chalk’ on turkey day.

Brett Favre was nothing short of sensational, completing 31-of-41 passes for 381 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. Donald Driver pulled in 10 catches for 147 yards, while Ryan Grant rushed for 101 yards and one TD on just 15 carries.

The ageless Favre is enjoying one of his best seasons in years, connecting on 68.5 percent of his throws. Even without a featured back to lean on, he has 3,356 yards passing with an outstanding 22/8 touchdown-interception ratio.

Green Bay second-year WR Greg Jennings has provided Favre with a speedster that can stretch the field. Jennings is averaging 16.0 yards per reception and has nine TD catches, including an 82-yard TD grab on the first play of overtime at Denver.

The main focus of any defense going against Dallas is to contain Owens. Unfortunately for the Packers, they could be without their best cover corner this week. Charles Woodson, who has 12 interceptions in 27 games since signing with Green Bay, is expected to be a game-time decision due to a toe injury.

Also, DE Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila is “questionable” after rolling his ankle in last week’s win over the Lions. KGB has 9 ½ sacks this season, while Aaron Kampman has a team-high 10.

Romo grew up in the state of Wisconsin as a huge Packers fan. Like his childhood hero Favre, Romo is enjoying a monster season. He has completed 66.2 percent of his passes for 3,043 yards, with a 29/13 TD-INT ratio. Owens has been his favorite target, producing 64 receptions for 1,093 yards and 13 TDs.

Dallas has the better ground attack with Barber and Julius Jones combining to rush for more than 1,200 yards and nine TDs. Barber has seven of those scores and averages 4.9 yards per carry.

During the 1990s, Texas Stadium was house of horrors for the Packers. From 1993-1999, Favre and Co. lost at Dallas eight times, including three defeats in the playoffs.

Green Bay has beaten Dallas twice with Favre under center, but both victories came at Lambeau Field. In 2004, the Packers mashed the ‘Boys by a 41-20 count as four-point home favorites. They also won 45-17 in ’97 as six-point ‘chalk.

Dating back to 1993, the ‘over’ is 9-1 in the last 10 head-to-head meetings between these teams. The ‘over’ is 8-3 overall for Dallas this season, but just 3-3 in its home games. As for the Packers, they have watched the ‘over’ hit at a 4-1 clip in five road games.

Kick-off is scheduled for 8:15 p.m. Eastern.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

--A win for either team in this spot won’t clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC. However, the loser will have a long climb ahead and will need some serious help. You could argue that the No. 1 seed – and therefore homefield advantage in the NFC title game – is much more important for the Cowboys, who would not want to go to Green Bay during the frigid weather of January.

--Green Bay has won outright in all five of its underdog spots this year.

--Who is tied with Favre for fourth in the NFL in TD passes? That would be Cleveland’s Derek Anderson with 22.

--Favre is second in the NFL in passing yards, trailing Tom Brady by just 83 yards. Romo is fourth, behind only Brady, Favre and Carson Palmer.

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Re: NFL : Thursday Football

This really sucks not being able to watch this game tonight.  tongue

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mvbski wrote:


This really sucks not being able to watch this game tonight.  tongue

Favre leaves game

Irving, TX (Sports Network) - Green Bay Packers starting quarterback Brett Favre left Thursday night's game against the Dallas Cowboys with an apparent right arm injury.

Favre was injured with 10:11 left in the second quarter when he was hit by Dallas' Nate Jones, who came on a blitz. Favre released the ball in time but was picked off by Terrence Newman.

Aaron Rodgers replaced Favre to start the Packers' ensuing drive.

Favre left the game having completed just 5-of-14 passes for 56 yards with two interceptions and no touchdowns.

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