Everything you need to know as kickoff approaches...
Dallas Cowboys: DOUBTFUL: T Doug Free (ankle); QUESTIONABLE: LB Anthony Hitchens (ankle), LB Rolando McClain (knee, concussion), DT Terrell McClain (ankle), DE Jeremy Mincey (concussion); PROBABLE: LB Bruce Carter (knee), TE James Hanna (knee), DT Nick Hayden (shoulder), S Jeff Heath (thumb), G Zack Martin (ankle), RB DeMarco Murray (hand), QB Tony Romo (back)
McClain and Mincey both returned to practice on Friday, which is a positive sign for their availability. Free was listed as inactive but McClain and Mincey will both suit up.
All eyes will be on Rodgers every time he scrambles Sunday. If he tweaks the calf again, it could spell doom for the Packers. Richardson was listed as active.
A list of probables.
Denver Broncos: OUT: DE Quanterus Smith (knee); QUESTIONABLE: ** B Brandon Marshall (foot) *, DT Mitch Unrein (knee); PROBABLE: S David Bruton (concussion, neck), T Paul Cornick (toe), G Orlando Franklin (concussion), QB Peyton Manning (thigh), C Will Montgomery (knee), CB Aqib Talib (achilles), WR Demaryius Thomas (ankle, finger), TE Julius Thomas (ankle), RB Juwan Thompson (hip, knee), S T.J. Ward (neck), CB Kayvon Webster (shoulder)
Getting Marshall back could be big against the Colts' pass-catching tight ends. We will have to monitor how much he plays on Sunday.
Key matchups to watch
Jason Garrett dismissed any worry about Murray slowing down over the last month of the season. However, the NFL's leading rusher is averaging one total yard fewer per attempt in the past three games since hand surgery. In the past six contests, Murray has just two 100-yard games and nine carries of 10 or more yards. In the first 11, he had 10 100-yard contests and 38 carries of 10-plus yards. Murray, behind a dominant offensive line, represents the Cowboys' biggest advantage against the Packers, who ranked No. 23 against the run. In five games when facing opponents in the bottom 10 in rushing this season, Murray is averaging 133.0 yards per game and 5.4 yards per rush.
Dom Capers' group must hold their own on the inside or Murray will be dancing in their secondary often, extending drives and keeping Aaron Rodgers on the sideline. The Packers' run defense did stiffen down the stretch, allowing just 80 yards per game on the ground in the last three contests, while averaging four sacks per game. It will be interesting to see how Capers deploys Clay Matthews on Sunday. The outside linebacker has shifted inside at times this season to help solidify the run defense. I'd expect that tactic to be employed some early in order to stymie Murray and take their chances with the ball in Tony Romo's hands.
Hilton is the key to the Colts' passing offense. His eight receptions of 30-plus air yards were tied for second most in the NFL this season. When he is able to get open deep and on crossing patterns, where he can do damage after the catch, it opens up the entire Colts offense. If Hilton is a threat deep on Sunday, tight ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener should have ample opportunities. With Reggie Wayne a shell of his former self -- and dealing with injury -- it's up to Hilton to carry the load in the passing game as the Colts' newest star receiver.
The gig won't be easy for Hilton, however, with Chris Harris potentially trailing the speedy wideout. Harris ranks No. 2 this season in opposing passer ratings, holding pigskin throwers to just 37.1. Harris doesn't always trail the team's best receiver, but he could if asked Sunday. With Hilton earning such an overwhelming amount of targets from Andrew Luck, it might be the best strategy to pin one of the NFL's best corners on the biggest threat. With Aqib Talb on the other side providing ample support against the pass, if Harris shuts down Hilton it could short-circuit Indy's entire offensive operation.
Did You Know?
Romo's winning percentage is .375 (3-5) when the game-time temperature is below 40 degrees, the lowest win percentage among the remaining playoff QBs. Rodgers' is .733 (22-8).
Over the last five games the Cowboys are 5-0, scoring 37.8 points per game, while giving up 19.8 points per game with, a plus-11 turnover differential.
Dallas had NFL's No. 2 rushing offense this season (147.1 YPG).
The Cowboys' defense has forced 15 turnovers during their five-game winning streak -- most in the NFL since Week 14.
Dallas held eight opponents to 20 points or less this season (including playoffs). However, they allowed opponents to convert 43.6 percent of third downs this season -- 27th in NFL and allowed opponents to convert 61.2 percent of red zone drives into touchdowns -- 27th in NFL.
The Packers' offense led the NFL in scoring (30.4 PPG). Since Week 4, Green Bay is averaging 33.2 PPG.
Rodgers' crew led the NFL with 6.2 yards per play average and had only 13 giveaways this season (T-fewest in NFL, NE).
In the last three contests the Packers' D has given up 15.3 points per game, 225 yards per game, 80 rushing yards per game, 145 passing yards per game, 29.3 third downs percent, with 4.0 sacks per game.
Green Bay allowed 25.7 percent of 20-plus air yard passes to be completed in 2014 (third-lowest in NFL). Tony Romo completed 41.8 percent of 20-plus air yard passes in 2014 (fifth-highest in NFL).
The Colts' offense had at least one giveaway in 14 of 17 games this season -- 31 giveaways in regular season (T-29th in NFL).
Last week, Luck passed Kurt Warner for most passing yards in first four postseason starts, 1,438 yards.
Luck threw 11 TD passes of 20-plus air yards in 2014 (most in NFL), while Denver allowed 20.0 percent of 20-plus air yard passes to be completed in 2014 -- lowest percent in NFL.
Daniel "Boom" Herron had 524 scrimmage yards the entire regular season -- 351 rush and 173 receiving yards. In the Wild Card round vs. the Bengals he had 12 rush for 56 yards and 10 receptions for 85 yards.
T.Y. Hilton had seven 100-yard games this season. Five of Hilton's seven touchdowns this season came on the road. Also, five of Hilton's seven TDs this season were 25-plus-yard receptions. Hilton has had two career games vs. Denver: 7 receptions, 68 yards -- 7 receptions on 22 targets (31.8 reception percent).
Demaryius Thomas is averaging 106.7 receiving YPG in his playoff career, which is the most in NFL history with a minimum of five games. Hilton is averaging 124.0 YPG in his four-game playoff career, which is the most in NFL history with a minimum of four games.
The Colts' defense had the NFL's second best third-down defense during the regular season, allowing only 33.3 percent of conversions.
The Broncos' offense was most balanced in the month of December, rushing 48.2 percent of the time, as opposed to 36.9 percent in November.
Denver allowed just 17 sacks this season (Fewest in NFL) -- 4 of top 5 in that category made the playoffs.
The Broncos' defense ranked third in total yards this season, second in rushing yards allowed, 79.8, and ninth in passing yards, 225.4.