'Freak' injury to Packers star is great news for Cowboys before playoff matchup

Chicago Bears v Green Bay Packers
Chicago Bears v Green Bay Packers / Patrick McDermott/GettyImages

The Dallas Cowboys couldn't have asked for a better draw in the first round of the playoffs. That's not to overlook the Green Bay Packers or discredit what they accomplished in a reset year following Aaron Rodgers' departure, but there's a reason the Cowboys are touchdown favorites for Sunday's game.

All of the Packers weaknesses align with what the Cowboys do well. For starers, Green Bay is dead-last in PFF coverage grade vs seam routes this season. We all know Dak Prescott loves nothing more than throwing a seam route to Jake Ferguson regardless of the coverage.

Additionally, the Packers allowed the fifth-most rushing yards of any team during the regular season. That bodes well for Tony Pollard and a Cowboys run game that started showing signs of life to close the campaign.

Having said that, though, Green Bay still has playmakers on the defensive side who can wreck a game. Look no further than Jaire Alexander, who might be the best pound-for-pound cover cornerback in the NFL. In a huge break for Dallas, Alexander might not play on Sunday after suffering a freak injury.

Per Packers head coach Matt LaFleur, Alexander stepped on a teammate's foot in practice on Wednesday and rolled his ankle. Alexander didn't practice on Thursday and his status for Sunday is seemingly up in the air.

Cowboys news: Packers star CB Jaire Alexander suffers freak ankle injury before playoff matchup

This is a monster development. Even if Alexander plays, that ankle is going to be sore. NFL players battle through ankle sprains every week, but they need time to fully heal. At the very least, Alexander's lateral movements will be hindered. Good luck covering CeeDee Lamb on a hobbled ankle.

The Packers cornerback depth behind Alexander leaves a lot to be desired. Not only did they trade standout Rasul Douglas to the Bills before the trade deadline, but they lost starter Eric Stokes for the season. Behind Alexander, 2023 seventh-round pick Carrington Valentine played the second-most snaps in Week 18 with 44, followed by Keisean Nixon (31) and Corey Ballentine (four).

The Packers have played more man coverage in recent weeks under Joe Barry, and it was expected that Alexander would follow Lamb. The Cowboys love to move Lamb all around the offense and match him up against different defenders, but Lamb has absolutely feasted against man coverage this season.

His 798 receiving yards vs man are almost 200 more than the next receiver, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). He also has the most catches, yards per route run and highest receiving grade against man.

Even if Alexander plays, this news sets the stage for Lamb to run amok in the Packers secondary on Sunday. And when Lamb has big games, the Cowboys usually end up on the winning side.

More Cowboys news and analysis: