Packers or Cowboys? ESPN.com's experts make their picks

The NFC showdown between the Packers and Cowboys is finally here. Our experts offer their predictions.

Originally Published: November 29, 2007
ESPN.com

Cowboys v PackersDavid Stluka/Getty ImagesThe Cowboys and Packers will meet for the 27th time; Dallas leads the all-time series, 14-12.
The implications are huge in Thursday's showdown between 10-1 Dallas and 10-1 Green Bay. The winner at Texas Stadium will be in the driver's seat for homefield advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. Which team will that be? ESPN.com's NFL writers and editors offer their predictions.

John Banks

Banks Prediction
Cowboys 27, Packers 24
It's déjà vu all over again for Brett Favre in Dallas. The Packers and Favre came up empty against the Cowboys' great teams of the '90s. Dallas' cast of characters has changed, of course, but the result won't. Expect three TD passes from Tony Romo, three from Favre. Dallas' better running game is the difference.

Jeffri Chadiha

Chadiha Prediction
Packers 31, Cowboys 28
The Packers have a better defense and Ryan Grant has emerged to provide a decent running threat. That's enough reason to think Brett Favre can lead the Packers to their 11th win in 12 games.

Although the Cowboys have homefield advantage for Thursday's game, the Packers seem to be gaining more confidence each week. I can also see Cowboys QB Tony Romo making a big mistake in this contest while Favre hasn't been prone to doing that at all this year.

John Clayton

Clayton Prediction
Cowboys 24, Packers 17
Timing is everything, and the timing is bad for the Packers. They'll lose to the Cowboys for two main reasons: (1) They're playing on the road; and (2) they aren't a healthy team.

Cornerback Charles Woodson probably won't be as effective if he plays with his toe injury, and his availability is a big question mark. Meanwhile, the Packers' defensive line could be down three players -- Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, Johnny Jolly and Colin Cole -- and knee injuries could keep out safeties Nick Collins and Aaron Rouse.

For three weeks, the Colts didn't look like the Colts because of injuries. That should be the same for the Packers, who will have to look to the playoffs in hopes of a rematch.

Mike McAllister

McAllister Prediction
Cowboys 34, Packers 31
Inevitable in these kinds of games, when so much focus and attention is paid to the star quarterbacks, the outcome ends up being determined by ... the kickers. In this case, rookie kickers, both of whom seem impervious to pressure. The Packers' Mason Crosby drilled the game-winner in his debut against the Eagles, and the Cowboys' Nick Folk calmly booted a 53-yarder (twice, after the late timeout ploy) in the miracle win at Buffalo. Crosby leads the NFL in scoring and has made 78.6 percent of his attempts; Folk is fifth and has an 85 percent success rate. Frankly, there isn't much difference between the two. Don't expect either one to flinch -- but Folk will have the final say.

Matt Mosley

Mosley Prediction
Cowboys 28, Packers 24
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has tried to play down the fact that he grew up idolizing Brett Favre, but he should give up. He's been thinking about this game for years, and he has to make sure he doesn't try to force the issue early in the game.

The Packers will use their physical corners in hopes of bothering Terrell Owens near the line of scrimmage. It's possible to take him out of a game, but that just means that Patrick Crayton or Jason Witten could end having a huge day.

Favre knows that if the Cowboys have a weakness, it's in their secondary. Look for the Packers to try to exploit safety Roy Williams with tight end Donald Lee. The Cowboys know it's coming, and have implemented coverage packages that don't include Williams.

Wade Phillips will try to bring pressure from all over the field to disrupt Favre's timing. Dallas wants to see if it can make Green Bay one-dimensional early in the game.

In the end, both teams are going to put up a lot of points. I just think the homefield advantage will be the difference. And that will carry through into the playoffs.

Len Pasquarelli

Pasquarelli Prediction
Cowboys 27, Packers 24
The home-field edge prevails for Dallas -- and the win will likely provide the Cowboys with the same advantage in the playoffs.

Mike Sando

Sando Prediction
Cowboys 27, Packers 20
The Packers are dangerous, but not just because they're talented and Brett Favre is playing well. They're dangerous because they've outperformed public expectations by such a wide margin.

Favre is a gambler playing with house money ... except he's also playing the percentages when it comes to avoiding reckless interceptions. He's no longer doubling his bets after every lost hand.

That gives Green Bay a chance against just about anyone -- but not necessarily anywhere. The Cowboys have the advantage at Texas Stadium.

In addition, Green Bay's ability to disrupt the Dallas passing game took a hit when Packers cornerback Charles Woodson suffered a toe injury against Detroit on Thanksgiving.

A wild card in this game could be Favre's ability to strike suddenly with long passes against the Dallas safeties. Ken Hamlin bit hard on a Favre fake when Hamlin was playing for Seattle last season, leading to a long touchdown.

Sheldon Spencer

Spencer Prediction
Cowboys 27, Packers 20
When is the Green Bay bubble going to burst? When is Brett Favre -- who has never won in Texas Stadium -- going to have one of those games where he's doling out interceptions like candy corn? What's the over/under on how many times NFL Network commentator Cris Collinsworth will use the term "gunslinger" to describe Favre's tendencies for wild throws?

Those answers might come tonight against a Dallas pass defense that is tied for second in the NFL in interceptions (16). Then again, Favre's kindred spirit Tony Romo might have a Buffalo flashback and toss go-get-it passes against a Green Bay pass rush that is tied for third in sacks (32). The more efficient passer probably wins.

Scott Symmes

Symmes Prediction
Cowboys 27, Packers 17
At full strength, the Packers' defense would have a hard time stopping the Cowboys' offensive juggernaut. When it takes the field tonight in Dallas, the Packers' D won't be at its optimum state, especially in the secondary. Safety Aaron Rouse (knee) is likely out, and CB Charles Woodson (toe) will be a game-time decision. Even if Woodson plays, will he be healthy enough to neutralize the likes of Terrell Owens or Patrick Crayton? Probably not.

The Packers are a legitimate contender, but they're getting Dallas at the wrong time. The Cowboys will prevail and move one step closer to securing homefield advantage in the NFC.

More ESPN experts

Here are the picks from our other NFL experts:
• Cowboys will win: Ron Jaworski, Eric Allen, Emmitt Smith, Keyshawn Johnson, Mike Golic, Keith Jackson.
• Packers will win: Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Chris Mortensen, Seth Wickersham, Merril Hoge.