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Key Matchup: Cowboys pass rush, Packers OL pits strength against strength

The Dallas Cowboys upcoming wild-card matchup against the Packers is more than just a grudge match between Mike McCarthy and the team that once fired him. It’s a game that pits strength against strength, which could ultimately decide which team advances to the divisional round and which team advances to the offseason.

The Cowboys are loaded in the pass-rusher department, and it shows. Micah Parsons, DeMarcus Lawrence, Dante Fowler, Dorance Armstrong, Osa Odighizuwa and Sam Williams make up arguably the best group of pressure players in the NFL. The Packers just so happen to be equally as proficient in stopping the pass-rush.

What Dallas may lack in sack totals (13th in NFL), they make up for pass rush win rate. With a 59 percent success rate, the Cowboys are No. 1 in the NFL in pass rush win rate and effective at pressuring QBs even without a blitz.

Green Bay finished the regular season ranked No. 2 in ESPN’s pass block win rate and are well equipped to stop even the most relentless of pass rushes. On Sunday, somethings gotta give.

The Cowboys have a couple items working in their favor:

  1. The speed in which they apply pressure.

  2. The multiple areas they can attack with pressure.

Quick pressure

Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys are a quick-pressuring team. Their average time to pressure is sits at 2.44 seconds while Jordan Love’s average time to throw this season is at 2.72.

Working in Green Bay’s favor here is how long they typically hold pass rushers at bay. Of the plays in which Love has been pressured, his average time to throw has been 3.5 seconds.

If Green Bay’s offensive line holds Dallas to the Packers’ typical standard, it will be an enormous win for the Packers. Contrarily, if the Cowboys can get pressure in less than Love’s average TTT of 2.72, it will be an enormous win for Dallas.

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Versatility

Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys’ ability to move players around allows them to dictate the matchups in a way that best favors them. Packers RT Zach Tom has had a standout season only allowing two sacks on the year. Whereas their LT Rasheed Walker has played more inconsistently and may be begging for exploit.

As a whole the Packers offensive line has only allowed 18 sacks this season but going against better pass rushes, they’ve shown enough cracks to indicate the Cowboys could get pressure.

In their final regular season rankings, PFF rated Green Bay just outside the top 10, casting a shadow on their impressive No. 2 PRWR rating.

Dallas’ best opportunities for impact will come against play-action. Play-action inherently takes longer to develop than most standard drop backs. Since the Packers leans on play-action regularly (25.4%), it should give the Cowboys extra time to get home against Love.

Story originally appeared on Cowboys Wire