The last time the Packers played in Dallas, they were beating the Steelers in Super Bowl XLV. The difference in Green Bay teams will look all the more pronounced with Aaron Rodgers still out for this week. Based on reports from practice, this very well may be the last game that Rodgers misses before his return, though a loss to the Cowboys is likely to be damaging enough that even if Rodgers returns at or near 100 percent for the final two games, it may not be enough for the Packers to steal the NFC North. In part that’s because the Cowboys were demolished by the Bears on Monday night as Monte Kiffin’s defense surrendered nearly 500 yards. In fact, today is a nice showdown of ancient defensive coordinators who somehow get by on reputation. Whose schemes are more porous – Dom Capers’ or Kiffin’s? Can’t say for sure right now, but I do know for a fact that Kiffin likes his playbook to look like an illuminated text from the 16th century.
The Jets are tenuously hanging on in the AFC Wild Card race and can continue to do so with a win in Carolina. Geno Smith on the road against the Panthers defense doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence. In fact, it inspired me to wince thinking about it. It is possible that Geno could limit mistakes and keep New York in it provided the Jets defense can hold the Panthers under 20. Still, I have a feeling this Jets fan would still prefer he tears both ACLs at once.
I also have a sneaking feeling that the Rams on the road might be a trap game for the Saints, but I’m sure I’ll shake it as soon as I see Kellen Clemens drop back to pass. Unless Rob Ryan also feels like ditching New Orleans for a McDonald’s run.
Your late game slate, as rated by KSK’s not-at-all subjective, rigorously scientificated five-star system:
New York Jets at Carolina ***
Kansas City at Oakland **
Green Bay at Dallas ***
New Orleans at St. Louis **
Arizona at Tennessee **