Jordy Nelson, who fractured two ribs in last weekend’s Wild Card win over the Giants, has been ruled out for Green Bay’s divisional showdown with Dallas on Sunday.
Nelson, of course, was Aaron Rodgers’ top target this season, hauling in 97 catches for 1,257 yards and 14 touchdowns. Only two other Green Bay pass-catchers, Davante Adams (75) and Randall Cobb (60), had more than 30 receptions this year.
Meanwhile, Dallas’ entire 53-man roster practiced in full Wednesday.
How rare is that?
“It’s pretty rare,” CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I think they’ve lost a couple of guys to IR, but nobody of immense note. They’ve obviously had a situation there with Randy Gregory, the never-ending suspension saga. So they would probably make the case, ‘Well, we’re not completely at full man power,’ but it’s about as good as it’s going to get for what amounts to, what, Week 19 of the NFL schedule? Yeah, it’s kind of in keeping with this whole narrative of this sort of magic carpet ride they’ve been on.”
When Tony Romo injured his back in August, the Cowboys seemed headed for a disaster of a season. Instead, they started 11-1, finished 13-3 and locked up the top seed in the NFC.
“Since the Tony Romo injury, they’ve been adversity-free,” La Canfora said. “They haven’t even really been behind in that many games. They haven’t trailed that many games or certainly trailed by two scores. It’s the complete opposite of their situation last year with Cassel and Weeden and Kellen Moore. They were perpetually chasing games.”
The Cowboys haven’t had to do that this season. They’d like to keep it that way Sunday, and they certainly have the workhorse to do it. Ezekiel Elliott led the league with 1,613 rushing yards and was one of just two backs to finish with 1,300+ yards (the other was Jordan Howard, who rushed for 1,313).
Still, Aaron Rodgers is Aaron Rodgers. No. 12 has 20 touchdowns (19 pass, one rush) over his last seven games – all Green Bay wins.
“That’s why I’m intrigued about the first quarter of this game in particular,” La Canfora said, “because Aaron Rodgers is coming in lightning hot. Yes, no Jordy Nelson, but still, I wouldn’t bet against him right now. If he comes in and marches down the field twice in the first quarter and Dallas goes three-and-out and it’s 14-0 – boy, they haven’t been in that spot, especially the kids on that roster. And if they’re always throwing on second down because they’re chasing the game, I like Green Bay’s chances.”
Sunday’s kickoff is at 4:40 p.m. ET.