Week 11 is a big one for the Dallas Cowboys. Coming off a tough Sunday night loss to the Minnesota Vikings, Dallas needs to bounce-back in a big way against the Detroit Lions this Sunday. Lucky for them, Detroit will be without their star quarterback, Matthew Stafford.
Stafford has always played well against the Cowboys in his career, so once again this season Dallas catches a break with an injury. This time, the Cowboys have to make it count. They have played New Orleans without Drew Brees, Green Bay without Davante Adams, and Minnesota without Adam Thielen, and lost all three games.
The Lions are an interesting team. With a defensive head coach in Matt Patricia, you would think Detroit would rely on their defense as the better part of their team, but that is not the case. The Lions’ defense has had a dreadful first nine games of the season. They allow 402 yards of offense a game, 30th in the NFL 272 passing yards a game and 129 rushing yards.
The Lions have given up 24 or more points in six of their nine games, and just a few weeks ago gave up 26 to the New York Giants when Saquon Barkley only rushed for 64 yards. Not ideal.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Lions do have weapons. Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay both have over 600 yards receiving on the year and combined have totaled 14 touchdowns. Danny Amendola is still a solid slot man at this point of his career, and rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson has shown promise in his first season out of Iowa.
All that is great, but it does not matter if your quarterback can’t get you the ball, and last Sunday Jeff Driskel could not. In his first start of the year, Driskel went 27 of 46 for 269 yards, one touchdown, one interception, and a 73 QB rating. The key to this game is going to be can the Dallas defense generate pressure on Driskel? If they can, it likely will be a long day for the former five-star recruit. If not, the Lions have enough offensive weapons to challenge the Dallas’ secondary and make this game interesting.
Before the Cowboys and Lions go to battle on Sunday, check out our three predictions for the game.
1. Ezekiel Elliott rushes for 115 plus and totals 160 all purpose yards on the day.
The Lions have gotten gashed by the run all season long. Three out of their last five games they have allowed a single runner to rush for 105 yards or more, and that trend will continue on Sunday. Two weeks ago rookie Josh Jacobs ran all over Detroit, and Ezekiel Elliott will do the same this week.
Elliott’s stock is down in many’s eyes after a rough week against Minnesota, but Dallas could not have a better matchup for him to bounce back this weekend. Elliott has played extremely well against the Lions in two career games, totaling 232 rushing yards on 37 carries.
When the two matched up in 2018, Elliott had 240 all purpose yards including a big reception that set up a Brett Maher game-winning field goal.
Ezekiel Elliott met 300 + scrimmage yards vandaag. Dankzij hem winnen de Cowboys van de Lions #SportAmpic.twitter.com/KmpUChjB49— SportAmerika (@SportAmerika) September 30, 2018
In that same game, Zeke had a big play on a screen pass, and the same will happen this Sunday. For the Cowboys offense to be at their best, they need Elliott to be at his best. That does not mean they need to run the football more then they pass, but they need Zeke to have better days then he did last Sunday.
This game will be much like the Giants game where the Dallas offensive line will control it from the opening snap. They will open up huge holes for Elliott in the running game, and he will make the defense pay.
2. The Dallas defense generates two turnovers on the day, one via DeMarcus Lawrence.
This is the perfect game for the Cowboys’ defense to get back on track. Last week against Minnesota the defense was just not good enough. They let Kirk Cousins be comfortable all night long, and allowed Dalvin Cook to eat them up on the ground and through the air.
Despite having some talented weapons at the receiver position, without Matthew Stafford the Lions offense is extremely limited. They are limited because, simply put, Jeff Driskel is not a starting quarterback. Driskel looked uncomfortable and out of sorts until the last drive last Sunday against Chicago, and Dallas will make him look the same this Sunday.
Since Kerryon Johnson went down with an injury, the Lions have not had much of a running game at all. With the lack of a true threat in the running game, Dallas will have even more of a chance to just attack Driskel all day long.
It didn’t necessarily show up on the stat sheet, but DeMarcus Lawrence had an outstanding game last Sunday night. Last time these two teams matched up, Lawrence had three sacks in an tremendous effort. That will continue this Sunday, Lawrence will record two sacks on the day, one of them forcing a fumble.
What happened last time DeMarcus Lawrence faced DET?— John Owning (@JohnOwning) November 14, 2019
Only 3 sacks, nbd. pic.twitter.com/IZ0CHDapXX
The Dallas defense has recorded just four interceptions this season, fourth worst in the entire NFL, but they will get another this Sunday. The constant pressure they will generate on Driskel will force him into making a big mistake, and Jourdan Lewis will come away with his second interception of the season.
3. Dallas gets back to their winning ways with a 28-17 victory.
This game is going to have an extremely similar feel to the Giants game two weeks ago. Dallas, as they have all season long, will start a bit sluggish keeping the Lions in the game, but in the second half they will start to pull away.
Just like they did in New York, the Cowboys will control the game with their rushing attack. Ezekiel Elliott will have big holes to run through all day long, and will hit the Lions with a big screen play to begin the second half. Dak Prescott won’t have the biggest day stat wise, but will take care of the football and throw for around 250 yards to go with two touchdowns.
The Dallas defense is going to put constant pressure on Jeff Driskel and not let him be comfortable like they did last week with Kirk Cousins. DeMarcus Lawrence will clearly be the best player on the field when Dallas is on defense and he will be a problem for the Lions all day.
In the end, Driskel will prove to be what he is, a backup quarterback, and he’ll make some costly turnovers that let the Cowboys run away with this game in the second half.