59F AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX
The Green Bay Packers won't have the injured Aaron Rodgers for a sixth straight game. Playing a backup quarterback may prove not to be a detriment against the Dallas Cowboys ' league-worst defense, though.
These teams are in the hunt for division titles, and the Cowboys could be hard-pressed to stop Matt Flynn on Sunday at AT&T Stadium.
The Packers ruled Rodgers out Friday. Coach Mike McCarthy said after practice that the decision was made in the best interest of the franchise quarterback. McCarthy said Rodgers had a good week of preparation but did very little in practice Friday.
" Hey, it's not the easiest thing to sit there and tell your franchise quarterback he can't play in the game when he wants to play in the game," McCarthy said. " This is clearly a decision that's made in the best interest of Aaron Rodgers ."
He added that Rodgers was "very disappointed" in the decision.
In his place, Flynn will make his third straight start. He went 24 of 32 for 258 yards with one touchdown and an interception in a 22-21 victory over Atlanta last week.
Green Bay (6-6-1) is one-half game behind NFC North co-leaders Detroit and Chicago as it returns to Arlington for the first time since Rodgers became MVP of Super Bowl XLV there in a 31-25 victory over Pittsburgh in 2011.
While the Packers do not control their destiny to win the division, the Cowboys do in the East. Dallas (7-6), which trails first-place Philadelphia by one game and hosts the Eagles in Week 17, will own the tiebreaker if it wins its last three games.
Dallas (7-6), however, probably doesn't have reason to be confident this week even with Rodgers sidelined. The Cowboys were shredded by another backup in Monday's 45-28 road loss to the Bears, as Josh McCown threw for 348 yards and four touchdowns. Chicago racked up 490 yards of offense.
The defeat marked the second time in a row Dallas has turned in an embarrassing performance in prime time after Drew Brees threw for 392 yards and four scores in a 49-17 win for New Orleans on Nov. 10. The Cowboys have allowed a league-worst 441.9 yards per game.
" Basically, we will have to make some adjustments in what we are doing defensively," owner Jerry Jones said Monday. " What that usually means is taking more risks on defense. But if you're going to have the kind of match like we had tonight or certainly in New Orleans, you have to take some risks. We have to double up and I'm sure that will be part of the plan on defense; more risks."
Flynn helped Green Bay end an 0-4-1 slide Sunday, and he's not taking anything for granted this week, noting that the Cowboys have forced 25 turnovers to tie for the fifth-highest total in the NFL.
"We've got to do our job and go out there and execute," Flynn said. "We think they're a talented defense. We know what we've got to do, we've got to try to work out any of the mistakes we're making and play a really clean game, especially there."
The Cowboys didn't force any turnovers Monday and allowed the Bears to score on their first eight possessions.
Chicago converted eight of 11 first downs, and Dallas is allowing opponents to convert 42.9 percent of the time in those situations, fifth-worst in the league.
"It isn't like they went right down the field, right down the field," defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin said. "Now they did but we had some third downs, we've gotta win some third downs."
The Cowboys are tied for fourth-fewest sacks in the NFL with 27. Star pass rusher DeMarcus Ware , who has missed three games with a thigh injury, has a career-low six.
Dallas also won't have linebacker Sean Lee , who's been ruled out because of a neck injury.The team's second-leading tackler was injured against the Bears.
The woeful defense has put more pressure on Tony Romo , who fell to 11-16 in December on Monday. He threw for a season-low 104 yards but had three touchdown passes with no interceptions for an offense that was only on the field for 23:16 because of the problems on the other side of the ball.
" It feels like you've got to win out is what it feels like," said Romo, 2-1 in his career as a starter against Green Bay. " It's felt like that for a few weeks."
Although the Packers are familiar with this venue, Sunday marks the first time they will face the Cowboys in it. Dallas captured the last nine meetings at Texas Stadium, including three in the postseason.
The teams' previous three matchups were in Green Bay, with the Packers winning the last two. These clubs haven't matched up in three seasons.