LT Chad Clifton vs. OLB DeMarcus Ware: Green Bay's season-long problems in pass protection are unlikely to subside in this game, especially with Ware involved. He leads the league with 50.5 sacks since 2006 and seems to be cranking things up after a slow start this season. All five of Ware's sacks have come in the last four games, and he leads the NFL in quarterback pressures. His speed-rushing prowess off the edge could be accelerated with Clifton not 100 percent recovered from an ankle sprain that kept him out of four games earlier in the season. Hence, the Packers will be compelled to give Clifton help on that side with either a tight end or a back to chip Ware, who recorded a sack in each of the teams' two most recent games. Clifton, who's played in only four games and started and finished only two games because of the ankle, wore down in the hot Florida sun last week and allowed one sack late in the game. In the four games, he's allowed two sacks and been penalized six times. Line coach James Campen said Clifton had great practices on Wednesday and Thursday. The Packers need the Clifton of old to show up on Sunday.
WRs Greg Jennings and Donald Driver vs. CBs Terence Newman and Mike Jenkins: Newman and Jenkins feel good about themselves after coming off a strong performance against the Eagles and big-play receiver DeSean Jackson. They have another huge challenge this week against Jennings and Driver. The Packers like to make big plays down the field. They have 10 completions of 40 or more yards, and Aaron Rodgers has a league-high 22 completions covering at least 25 yards. Newman entered the season as Dallas' best corner, but opposing quarterbacks have accumulated a 98.6 passer rating with three touchdowns, one interception and 60.8 percent completions against Newman. Jenkins has allowed two touchdowns, two interceptions, 55.0 percent completions and a passer rating of 70.5.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: PACKERS DEFENSE VS. COWBOYS OFFENSE
CB Al Harris vs. WR Miles Austin: Harris didn't get his wish to match up one-on-one with Terrell Owens when the teams played in Green Bay last season — the assignment went to Charles Woodson — and Harris wound up missing most of the game anyway after suffering a spleen injury in the first quarter. With Owens out of the picture in Dallas this year, Austin has assumed the mantle of top receiver in a splashy way. He is among the league leaders with an average of 22.7 yards per catch, seven touchdowns, 11 receptions of at least 20 yards and five catches of at least 40 yards. The Cowboys like to work Austin from the left side, which would be opposite Harris. Harris has had his struggles in big games this year — recall him looking lost a couple times at the Metrodome — but the 34-year-old remains a top-notch cornerback. According to Pro Football Focus, Harris ranks 11th among cornerbacks with a passer rating allowed of 58.2, and only 48.8 percent of passes thrown his direction have been completed. Austin, an imposing 6-foot-3, is the hottest receiver in the league with six touchdowns in his last four games. He had receptions of 63 and 52 yards against Green Bay last year, but those came after Harris exited with an injured spleen.
The pass rush must contain Romo.
Tom Hauck/Getty Images
REASON WHY THE PACKERS WILL WIN ...
It's now or never for the Packers, and quite often, a hungry team can put it together for a week and beat a more talented team. Remember last year? The Packers were 3-3 while the Colts were 3-2 and were coming off a 28-point win over Baltimore. Green Bay dominated that game, just as it did three weeks later, when, after two consecutive losses, it routed the Bears 37-3.
REASON WHY THE PACKERS WILL LOSE ...
No reason to look beyond the obvious. The Packers can't protect the quarterback and the Cowboys are terrific at sacking the quarterback.
REASON WHY THE COWBOYS WILL WIN ...
Arguably, no team in the NFL is playing better than the Cowboys. They've won four straight, including dominating home wins over Atlanta and Seattle and a big road win last week at Philadelphia. With star power at quarterback (Tony Romo), running back (Marion Barber), tight end (Jason Witten) and defense (DeMarcus Ware), Dallas has the look of a prime Super Bowl contender.
REASON WHY THE COWBOYS WILL LOSE ...
Dallas is coming off of a draining road win at Philadelphia and has a rivalry game coming up next week against Washington. Maybe, just maybe, the Cowboys have read too many of their press clippings. Last year, the Cowboys were 3-0 after a win at Green Bay, only to lose at home to lowly Washington. So, the history is there.
BILL HUBER'S PREDICTION (5-3): There's no reason to believe Green Bay can win this game. The big mismatch is the Packers' pass blocking against the Cowboys' pass rush. Nonetheless, Green Bay is hungry and Dallas is feeling good about itself. With their backs against the wall, the Packers come out and play their best game of the season. Packers 27, Cowboys 24.
If you missed Part 1 of Behind Enemy Lines, with five questions from Bill Huber to RanchReport.com's Steve Lansdale, click here.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.