GREEN BAY — Last week, the Packers were facing the Giants’ top-rated red-zone defense in the league, and Green Bay converted 3-of-4 red-zone possessions into touchdowns.
That continued a strong recent trend for the Packers, who are now 20-for-28 in the red zone during their current seven-game winning streak, an impressive pace they’d love to keep going in the NFC Divisional playoff against the Cowboys.
“You look at the way we’ve been playing of late in the red zone, we need to play that way Sunday in Dallas,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said prior to Thursday’s practice. “And we need to hold them to field goals on defense.”
Forcing the Giants to kick two field goals early kept the margin manageable last week while the Packers’ offense worked its way out of a slow start.
An added question against the Cowboys, though, is how many cracks the Packers will get, because Dallas ranks third in the league in time of possession, just ahead of the Packers in fourth. Ball control will be a priority for both teams because it’s been such a big part of their success, even though they do it differently — Dallas with the league’s leading rusher in Ezekiel Elliott, and Green Bay with the league’s hottest QB in Aaron Rodgers.
“They’re not on the field as long as other defenses,” McCarthy said. “They do a really good job stopping the run, they do a really good job making you one-dimensional, and when you do that on your home turf, you have a great chance of playing downhill.”
On the injury front, the Packers are hoping that WR Jeff Janis, a key member of the special-teams units, can return at least on a limited basis on Thursday from a quad injury. He sat out Wednesday’s practice. The status of WR Jordy Nelson has not changed.
“He’s making progress,” McCarthy said. “He has a three-day plan and we’ll evaluate him Friday.”
For the Cowboys, the biggest difference from the first game against the Packers this season will be the presence of WR Dez Bryant, who was injured back in October.
“He’s their No. 1 receiver when you look at what he’s done historically,” McCarthy said. “He can do it all. He can get behind you, he’s a red-zone threat, he can high-point the ball. He’s an excellent threat in their offense.”
Packers.com will have more following practice and locker room interviews.