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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.