April 13, 2024

The Green Bay Packers are heavy underdogs against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium, where Dak Prescott and company have yet to lose a game this season, but Jordan Love and the youngest roster to make the NFL playoffs since the Buffalo Bills in 1974 aren’t backing down from the task.

This is the same team that appeared to be in full rebuild mode with Watson as the sole known commodity as a receiver for Love, who had patiently waited three seasons behind future Hall of Fame QB Aaron Rodgers but was questioned by many outside the organization.

Love will lead a team into Arlington, Texas with 17 players born after the year 2000, and despite an expected roller-coaster start to the 2023 season, the first-year Packers starter has found a way to get a slew of pass-catchers, all of whom are rookies or second-year players, to find chemistry at the right time.

While no one else believes Green Bay can beat the Dallas Cowboys, Jordan Love has proven that he thrives in pressure situations.

The Packers’ first-year starter has defied expectations and established himself as the franchise’s next quarterback. While he has a long way to go before catching up to Rodgers and Brett Favre, he has already accomplished a big achievement by finishing with a better season than the two iconic Green Bay quarterbacks in their first year as starters.

He finished in the top ten in several throwing statistics, including touchdowns (32nd), passing yards (4,159th), and QBR (62.0th).

For years, Aaron Rodgers moaned about a dearth of wide receiver talent outside his go-to target Davonte Adams, but the Green Bay Packers were thriving at the time, as Rodgers pulled together back-to-back MVP seasons and seldom missed the playoffs throughout his 17 years as the team’s franchise quarterback.

 

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Jordan Love now appears to have an arsenal of weapons. From Jayden Reed, who is coming off his best three games of the season heading into the playoffs — and has earned the coaching staff’s trust to be used in various packages — constantly making defensive coordinators guess if he motions or lines up somewhere he didn’t normally earlier in the season.

However, as injuries prompted other young rookies to stand up, more revelations have occurred. Dontayvion Wicks, who has sparkled all season in limited action, has suddenly taken on a larger role and appears to be Love’s go-to red zone target when it matters the most. WIcks has three touchdowns in the last two games, with his only other touchdown this season coming in Week 2 against the Falcons.

Romeo Doubs has built on his first season, presently standing second to Reed with 59 receptions for 674 yards and eight touchdowns. Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft, the rookie tight end duo, figure to be important offensive pieces for the future, excelling as blockers and receivers.

Against Dan Quinn’s powerful Dallas Cowboys defense, depth at key skill positions will be vital.

And we haven’t even mentioned Christian Watson, who had the pressure of being Aaron Rodgers’ go-to guy last season, and while he’s battled injuries in 2023, he’s shined when healthy with 5 touchdowns on only 22 catches for 422 yards.

Even the bottom of the young WR depth chart is good, with Malik Heath and Bo Melton each scoring a touchdown when called upon.

This offense is peaking at the right time, and despite being major underdogs in Dallas, they are mature beyond their years. The last two games have been must-win situations, so the playoff atmosphere should not bother them.

It all starts with Love, who is doing things that veterans do. It’s easy to forget that Green Bay Packers supporters are no longer glued to Aaron Rodgers.

He has a strong understanding of opposing defenses and thrives when they apply pressure to him. He’s coming off two of his greatest performances of his career, including a rout of the red-hot Bears defense (316 yards, two touchdowns, and a QB rating of 128.5). The week before, he dominated the Vikings, another of the NFL’s top defenses, throwing for 256 yards, three touchdowns, and a QB rating of 125.3.

Now he’ll have to travel on the road against a Dallas Cowboys defense that is fifth in overall defense and fifth against the pass in the NFL. Much of their success can be attributed to their combination of elite pass rushers and tenacious defensive backs, including All-Pro Micah Parsons, who is coming off back-to-back All-Pro seasons and was named to his third Pro Bowl in as many years with 14 sacks.

Micah Parsons of the Dallas Cowboys compares Green Bay Packers rookie quarterback Jordan Love to Aaron Rodgers.

Love enters the playoffs having played as well as any quarterback in the NFL.

While Packers fans have been watching him grow game after game and earn Matt LaFleur’s trust to open up the playbook or call difficult plays in critical situations, other key players and executives around the league haven’t been blind to the first-year starter’s success, especially recently when it mattered the most.

Parsons, who has made it clear that he and Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love will not be buddies on Sunday, paid his opponent the ultimate praise ahead of their NFC Wildcard matchup.

According to ESPN’s Todd Archer, who covers the Dallas Cowboys, Parsons stated Jordan Love reminds him of Aaron Rodgers.

 

Jordan Love - Green Bay Packers Quarterback - ESPN

 

‘Packers QB Jordan Love has impressed Micah Parsons. He’s reminiscent of… Aaron Rodgers.” Archer provided information about X.

“You can tell he played under Rodgers,” remarked the standout pass rusher for the Dallas Cowboys. “Some of his mechanics, movements, and reads.” Also, fearlessness. He obviously learnt a lot from Rodgers.”

While it’s too early to declare Love the next Aaron Rodgers, it’s evident where the Cowboys offense wrecker is coming from after studying his opponent’s film.

Love, like Aaron Rodgers, has an obvious high football IQ, and it’s reasonable to say he learned a thing or two from the Super Bowl champion and NFL MVP while sitting behind him for three years. He can make big plays with pressure on his face, maintain calm under pressure, and move out of the pocket to extend plays downfield.

Most importantly, he remains composed and poised at crucial moments for the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs the last time he played, and while many believe this year’s Dallas Cowboys squad will make a Super Bowl run, there’s a first-year quarterback with an arsenal of young talent coming to town to attempt a massive upset.

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