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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, January 10, 2015 at 11:00 AM

Things were looking so great for the Green Bay Packers last week. Aaron Rodgers got extended time to recuperate from a calf injury. It looked for much of Sunday afternoon that they were going to draw the #4 seed Carolina Panthers…a playoff team with a losing record. And, the weather forecasts were suggesting ideal “Green Bay” weather for a true home field advantage. Bitter cold!

The bitter cold is still there. But, the season may turn bitter because Aaron Rodgers is still struggling to move with what is now being called a “torn” calf muscle. And, instead of a Carolina team they didn’t fear coming to visit…the dangerous Dallas Cowboys rallied to survive Wildcard Weekend and are still on a mission to salvage he franchises reputation.

What better way to do that than to avenge the Ice Bowl from so many years ago with a wind chill win under the national spotlight?

Let’s see what JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats had to say about expectations with Rodgers at full strength. Handicappers can make mental adjustments based on his game time condition.


Won-Lost Records (Strength of Schedule)

Dallas: 12-4 (#31 schedule in USA Today)

Green Bay: 12-4 (#20 schedule in USA Today)

Both teams were 12-4…but Green Bay accomplished that against a tougher schedule. You could see that Dallas didn’t really “look” like a 12-4 team most of last week. That soft schedule created some illusions about their true quality. Of course, Green Bay won’t look like a 12-4 team if Aaron Rodgers can barely walk!



Dallas: 6.1 on offense, 5.8 on defense

Green Bay: 6.2 on offense, 5.3 on defense

Huge edge here for the Packers. They had the better defense by half a yard-per-play, and they had the better offensive numbers despite playing the tougher schedule. It’s a big strike against Dallas that they could only manage +0.3 against one of the easiest schedules in the league. As impressive as the new balanced offense was…adjusting for context brings the team back to earth. Green Bay would have been looking like a very smart play at -6 if Rodgers was at 100%.


Turnover Differential

Dallas: +6

Green Bay: +14

Wow…and that blowout potential would have continued to expand. The Packers very much got the best of the risk/reward element with Rodgers at full strength. He doesn’t make many ill-advised passes any more. Tony Romo is getting better in that regard…but +6 vs. a very easy schedule isn’t nearly as good as +14 vs. a tougher slate. And, we all know that Romo tends to self-destruct when he gets into desperation mode. The stats are saying that would have been likely with a healthy Rodgers.


Market Performance

Dallas: 10-6 ATS

Green Bay: 9-6-1 ATS

Both teams were at 60% or better against market expectations. Considering their public profile, that’s very strong indeed. The deck is usually stacked against these teams because the public loves to bet them. They kept covering anyway.


Current Line: Green Bay by 5.5, total of 52

The line has dropped because of the late-week news that Rodgers wasn’t very optimistic about having full mobility. He would play, but he didn’t know how well. That discouraged Packer backers from investing, while encouraging dog lovers to come in while +6 was still available. It’s not as of the time we write this preview.

Clearly, the key factor in determining this result will be the status of Rodgers. If he’s anywhere close to normal, then the stats and TO differential are suggesting a sharp game for him (possibly helped by experience playing in frigid conditions) and an implosion for Dallas. But, if Rodgers can’t light up the scoreboard to put Romo into desperation mode…then we have a toss-up. If Rodgers himself starts to try and force things to make up for his lack of mobility, then the game could very easily swing the way of Dallas. Was last week’s good fortune in Big D signaling that this is a team of destiny?

JIM HURLEY knows that INFORMATION MEANS EVERYTHING in this game. He’ll be working very closely with his on-site sources for news on Rodgers “real” condition for Sunday’s kickoff. What he hears will determine the play based on everything we’ve outlined for you above. Playoff BEST BETS can be purchased Saturday and Sunday before kickoff right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us before the action starts at 1-888-777-4155. Don’t forget to check on college basketball. Conference play is already in full swing!

One more NFL preview to go here in the NOTEBOOK…and then we jump to Monday Night’s college football dream matchup for the national title…before marquee basketball is in the headlines again.

Sunday: NFL Preview…Indianapolis at Denver on CBS

Monday: College Football Championship Preview…Oregon vs. Ohio State

Tuesday: College Basketball Preview…Oklahoma at West Virginia

Wednesday: College Basketball Preview…Iowa State at Baylor

Thursday: NBA Preview…Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets

Friday: NFL Early Look…Conference Championship Preview

Saturday: NFL Early Look…Conference Championship Preview

Both of those Big 12 college matchups involve pairs who are currently ranked in the Top 25. We’ll be featuring all the major conferences on a regular basis between now and the start of MARCH MADNESS on these pages. Don’t pass on the baskets!

For now…a huge football weekend is upon us. The wait is over…and THE WINNERS ARE HERE thanks to JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!


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Jim Hurley on twitter @vsm_hurley

Vegas-Sports-Masters on twitter @vsmasters

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