Pregame warmup: Packers getting healthier

Posted by Mike Spofford on December 15, 2013 – 2:31 pm

Less than an hour before kickoff from AT&T Stadium, here’s the latest on today’s Packers-Cowboys showdown:

Packers getting healthier

The Packers are without QB Aaron Rodgers for a sixth straight start, but after having several other players miss practice on Wednesday and Thursday, the Packers are getting healthier.

RB Eddie Lacy (ankle), LB Brad Jones (ankle) and LB Jamari Lattimore (knee), none of whom practiced until Friday this week, are all active and expected to play their usual roles. As a hedge with Lacy, the Packers also have newly acquired RB Kahlil Bell active for the first time. He’s the No. 3 RB behind Lacy and James Starks.

The Cowboys aren’t as fortunate in the health department, particularly on defense. Three starters — LBs Sean Lee and Bruce Carter, plus CB Morris Claiborne — are out on a unit that has struggled this season and is coming off one of its worst performances, when it allowed the Chicago Bears to score points on eight straight possessions last Monday night.

Reserve LBs Kyle Wilber and Ernie Sims enter the starting lineup for the Cowboys, along with nickel CB Orlando Scandrick.

The Cowboys are also missing their primary return man, WR Dwayne Harris, due to injury. He will most likely be replaced by WR Cole Beasley on special teams.

Tight NFC North

The Packers are looking to end this weekend no worse than where they are now — a half game out of the division lead. The front-running Lions don’t play until Monday night at home against the Ravens, but that doesn’t lessen the importance of this game for Green Bay.

The Packers must win to assure they’ll remain no worse than a half game out. The Bears are also in the picture, tied with the Lions at 7-6 and a half game ahead of the Packers, but as of this posting they trail the Browns in the third quarter. (Update: The Bears won and are now 8-6 and in first place alone.)

The best-case scenario for the Packers is to win and have the Lions lose. That would put Green Bay in control of its own destiny with two games left. Should the Packers lose, it would obviously help if both the Bears and Lions also lost, which would keep Green Bay a half game back.

For more on all the playoff scenarios involving the Packers, click here.

Return to Dallas

The Packers haven’t beaten the Cowboys on the road since 1989, but they did of course win Super Bowl XLV here in AT&T Stadium three years ago.

Dallas has been strong at home this season, losing only once, in a shootout with the Denver Broncos. The Cowboys have plenty at stake in this game as well, trying to keep pace with the Eagles in the NFC East. Philadelphia, which began the day one game ahead of Dallas for the division lead, is currently losing but coming back in a tight battle with Minnesota at the Metrodome. (Update: The Eagles lost, meaning the Cowboys can pull into a tie for first place in the NFC East with a win.)

How have the Packers fared the first time they’ve returned to the place of a Super Bowl triumph? Click here to find out.

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