I know this is supposed to be a blog on everything Ravens, but gimme a break. After the pain of this season, even us columnists need a break every now and then. At least the players normally get Mondays and Tuesdays off! Besides, the Ravens next opponent, New England, has a vested stake in tonight's game between the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys on the NFL Network (yes, I have it!).
Unless there is a total collapse by the Cowboys or Packers (I guess you can add the Pats as well), one of these teams should end up in the Super Bowl against the Patriots. Since the winner of this game has the lead on home field advantage throughout the playoffs, both teams will be holding nothing back tonight. Green Bay would absolutely love to host the playoffs on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field (I always wanted to have a reason to say that!) in January. Now that is the true definition of home field advantage. While the Cowboys have a great home field advantage because of their great fans, the addition of the extreme elements just adds to the Packers' advantage.
The Cowboys are seven point favorites at home in tonight's game, even though I see it more like a field goal. If the game were in Green Bay, I'd turn it around and make the Packers a field goal favorite. This means that on a neutral field, it's a pick 'em game. Both teams enjoy high scoring offenses focusing on the passing game, with perhaps the Packers more so than the Cowboys. Dallas' two pronged rushing attack gives it the edge on the ground, while I give the passing advantage to the Packers despite the TO factor.
Tony Romo loves to get the ball into TO's hands and tonight will be no different. He also has become infatuated by the difficult challenge that Jason Witten poses to the opposition. In addition, he now has a speedy Sam Hurd to consider as an option as well as the outspoken Patrick Crayton.
However, the Packers still have Brett Favre. Despite how well (and how wealthy) Tony Romo has done this season, he's still not Brett Favre (although he does remind me of a young Roger Staubach, no?). Favre is enjoying what might be his best season of his soon-to-be Hall of Fame career, after he retires and starts collecting Social Security. Part of his success has been combining the old and the new. Donald Driver is one of the best possession receivers, while wideouts Greg Jennings, James Jones, Ruvell Martin (and now Koren Robinson), as well as TE Donald Lee provide the speed to extend the defense.
Defensively, both teams are solid from top to bottom, although I have to give the edge to the Packers because of their solid defensive secondary. Dallas will be throwing against the best pair of cornerbacks they've faced all season, providing Charles Woodson's toe injury heals enough for him to be at full strength. Rush ends Aaron Kampman and KGB (sorry, I won't even try spelling it out!) will force Romo to throw on the run, even though he has been very effective out of the pocket. At the same time, Dallas has played excellent defense compared to earlier in the season, as teams have just not been able to run effectively against them.
Even though I seem to give the edge in the passing attack and defense to the Packers, I still see the Cowboys winning this game, specifically due to the home field advantage. That said, I certainly won't be surprised to see Green Bay come into Dallas and leave with their 11th win. No offense Dallas fans, but the thought of Brett Favre leading the Packers to an upset victory over the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl has much more of a "Disney-style" aura to it!