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Cowboys news: Odds, game predictions, and things to look for against the Lions

It’s game day! Are you ready? Check out the latest edition of Cowboys news.

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NFL: Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys vs. Lions odds, line, spread: Picks, predictions from proven model on 55-36 run - Staff, CBSSports
Last week, the Cowboys were underdogs and they lost. This week, they are favorites so let's hope the oddsmakers are correct again.

The Dallas Cowboys will play host to the Detroit Lions at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday. Both teams are 1-2 and desperately need to win to boost their postseason hopes. The Cowboys are 3-point favorites after opening at 3.5, while the over-under for total points scored has held steady at 44.

NFL Week 4 FOX Detroit Lions @ Dallas Cowboys Preview - Staff, Pro Football Focus
Once upon a time some thought that "anyone can run behind the Cowboys offensive line" because the OL was outstanding. But Ezekiel Elliott is no slouch himself and has proven that he's not just anyone.

Elliott running through contact: Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott is one of the toughest runners in the league. Since 2016, Elliott has accumulated 1780 yards after contact, which is the most among running backs in that span. The Lions defensive line will have to be at their very best if they want to stop him in his tracks.

There is only one game on FOX today and which game they show is spread out differently all over the country. If you live in the red, you’re one of the lucky ones.

The Cowboys know they will be without Sean Lee today, but the status of wide receiver Cole Beasley and defensive tackle Antwaun Woods is still up in the air.


The Cheat Sheet: Dallas Cowboys one-dimensional offense doesn’t bode well - Justin Simon, Pride Of Detroit
Our sister site Pride of Detroit provides their game preview, including what they believe is the weak spot on the team.

Cowboys’ weak link: Wide receiver

A well composed offense is like a great piece of music. If all the pieces are in harmony it can be great, but if there’s an off note here and there, then the whole thing starts to fall apart. As of now, the Cowboys one-dimensional offense is making it hard to move the ball consistently.

This offseason, the Cowboys gave Allen Hurns an $11 million contract. So far this season he has just four catches for 51 yards.

Cole Beasley, mainly a slot player, leads the Cowboys receivers with 132 yards this year.

Gadget player Tavon Austin leads the receivers with two touchdowns, but they were more unconventional than a function of the offense—a 64-yard touchdown against the New York Giants and a 3-yard shovel pass in the fourth quarter last week against the Seahawks.

And Terrance Williams has completely underwhelmed, posting just two catches for 18 yards through three games.

Lions, Cowboys take different vibes into battle of 1-2 teams - Schuyler Dixon, The Washington Post
Of course, we're not even sure which Cowboys wide receivers we're even going to see on Sunday.

RECEIVER CAROUSEL

The Cowboys carried seven receivers last week, with six active against Seattle. Brice Butler could play after being inactive last week, days after rejoining his team from the previous three seasons. Butler signed with Arizona in free agency but was cut at the end of the preseason. If Butler is active, there’s a chance Terrance Williams will be a healthy scratch for the first time in his six-year career. Williams has played just 22 percent of the snaps so far.

3 things to watch for in Detroit Lions-Dallas Cowboys game - Von Lozon, Click on Detroit
For any Cowboys receiver to show up, it's going to come down to the guy throwing him the ball.

Will Dak Prescott throw for 200+ yards?

The reason the Lions have a good chance at winning if they limit Elliott on the ground is because the Cowboys' passing game with quarterback Dak Prescott has been bad, to say the least.

The third-year quarterback from Mississippi State has passed for fewer than 200 yards in five straight games dating back to last year. That will happen when Cowboys owner Jerry Jones decides to let his team's best wide receiver (Dez Bryant) walk away, and when one of the greatest tight ends in NFL history (Jason Witten) retires.

The Cowboys have just one wide receiver, Cole Beasley, with more than 100 yards receiving this year. The Lions, meanwhile, have three (Marvin Jones, Golden Tate and Kenny Golladay) and nearly have a fourth (Theo Riddick, 98 receiving yards).

The Lions' secondary played a huge role in their victory over New England last weekend. If it can hold up for a second straight week, it will be a long afternoon for Prescott and the Cowboys' passing attack.

The Dallas Cowboys' offense is on life support. Here are 5 ways it can be resuscitated - Jon Machota, SportsDay
Machota identifies five ways to help bolster the offense, including something that has been long overdue.

Take some shots downfield

In Dallas' lone win, Prescott and Tavon Austin hooked up for a 64-yard scoring strike on the game's third play. Prescott attempted two more deep throws (20 or more yards in the air) later that quarter. He hasn't thrown another in the seven quarters since.

Last Sunday in Seattle was only the third time in Prescott's career that he didn't attempt at least one pass that traveled 20 or more yards in the air.

Prescott would acknowledge that going deep is something that needs to be done...

"I think as much as anything, it's just taking those shots," Prescott said. "Even if they're incomplete, taking those shots and making the defense back up."

And the numbers don’t lie...

Five things to look for in Sunday’s Cowboys-Lions game - Calvin Watkins, The Athletic
The Seahawks aren't stacked with playmaking receivers, yet they still burned the Cowboys last week. With the trio of Golden Tate, Marvin Jones Jr., and Kenny Golladay, the Cowboys safeties better be ready because Matthew Stafford is going to take some shots deep.

Safety play

The Cowboys allowed two touchdown passes in the loss to the Seahawks last week because of their safeties. That can’t happen against the Lions because Stafford will attack deep when he sees one-on-one coverage. Against the Patriots last week, Stafford threw a touchdown pass to Golden Tate when safety Duron Harmon made a critical mistake. Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore played off coverage against Tate, who gets off the ball quickly. Tate had clear separation and ran a post route that would have been covered up if Harmon played the deep middle of the field. Instead, Harmon moved up and away from the middle and when Stafford noticed this he went for the deep pass. In the Seattle loss, the Cowboys were in a similar coverage when allowing the second touchdown pass. Cornerback Chidobe Awuzie let the receiver go past him, thinking Kavon Frazier was providing deep help. Communication is important between every player and when it breaks down, touchdowns happen.

Stafford currently the least-sacked QB in the NFL - Tim Twentyman, Detroit Lions
In order to keep the Lions from hitting on those big plays in the passing game, it's going to require the Cowboys pass rush to get to Stafford. And so far this season, team's haven't been doing that.

Through three games, Matthew Stafford ranks as the least sacked quarterback among qualifying passers in the NFL, having hit the turf just three times.

Stafford was sacked 47 times in all last year, the most in his career, despite attempting the fewest amount of passes (565) in a full season. The Lions had a rotating door of offensive linemen play last season due to injury, which was part of the problem. It’s been more steady in that regard so far this season.

Last week in the win over New England, Detroit’s starting five upfront – Taylor Decker, Frank Ragnow, Graham Glasgow, Lang and Rick Wagner – had a dominant performance. Stafford was sacked once, and that was the only time he was officially hit on the stat sheet. Detroit also rushed for 159 yards in that 26-10 victory.

6 Advanced stats predict Week 4 Cowboys-Lions winner - K.D. Drummond, Cowboys Wire
K.D. examines this week's advanced stats in order to get a good read on the Cowboys/Lions game.

Toxic Differential

The Dallas offense is embarrassing when it comes to producing big passing plays, with just three on the year. If they are embarrassing though, then the pass defense has to be considered elite, only giving up three of their own.

Entering the game the talk is about the Lions’ top-ranked passing defense based on yardage, but Dallas is giving up less big plays.

The Lions propensity to turn the ball over negates their big-play advantage on offense.

With a wash in the offensive comparison, the Cowboys stingier defense (similar low turnover totals, but giving up less explosive plays) gives them an advantage coming into this game.

Advantage: Cowboys

Gut Feeling: Predictions For Cowboys-Lions - Staff, Dallas Cowboys
Last week, the writing staff over at the Mothership wasn't so optimistic about the Cowboys coming out of Seattle with a win. They were right. This week, the feeling is a lot more positive with most of them giving the edge to Dallas today.

David Helman: Alright, let’s climb back on this roller coaster. Not much about that loss in Seattle gives cause for optimism — but I just kind of have a feeling about this game. The Lions are dead-last in the league against the run, surrendering 149 yards per game. That’s got to be welcome news for the Cowboys, because running the ball is the one thing their offense has done well so far this season. On the flip side, Stafford and the Lions’ offense racks up a ton of yards, but they aren’t great at converting them into points. The Lions are only scoring 24.3 points per game, which is middle of the pack. The Lions are going to hit some plays, but I think the Cowboys can force them to settle for some field goals and hopefully get a takeaway or two. With Elliott grinding out yards, there should be some openings for Prescott to make some plays. Nothing crazy, but just enough to get a win. Something like 27-23.

Detroit Lions vs. Dallas Cowboys predictions: Thriller ahead - Staff. Detroit Free Press
The Detroit Free Press offer up their game predictions.

Dave Birkett

Cowboys 21, Lions 17: The Lions are coming off an impressive and much-needed 26-10 win over the Patriots, but it’s folly to think that victory cured all their ills. The Lions still have the worst rushing defense in the NFL, and, especially with Ziggy Ansah out with a shoulder injury, they don’t have enough playmakers on their defensive front. That’s worrisome with Elliott on the other side of the field. He's a big, powerful runner who can skinny his way through holes or bowl defenders over, and the Lions will have to commit ample resources to stopping him. If the Lions can grab an early lead and force the Cowboys to play catch-up, they could spring the upset. But if this is the low-scoring game I suspect it will be, I'm taking the home team and the dominant running game to win.

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